Washington: In a highly critical report, a Senate committee has said the deadly attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, could have been prevented and blamed the State Department, the intelligence and even late US envoy Chris Stevens for missing obvious warning signs.
The attack on September 11, 2012 killed four American citizens, including the US envoy Stevens.
The White House said the report released yesterday by the Senate Intelligence Committee largely reaffirms the findings reached by independent Benghazi Accountability Review Board.
A number of its recommendations are consistent with the work the State Department has taken to improve diplomatic security, including upgrading security cameras, improving fire-protective equipment, and increasing Marine security guard presence, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
The Obama administration, he said, is focused on two pieces:?bringing to justice those responsible for the deaths of four Americans; and making sure that they take the steps necessary to improve the security at vulnerable facilities.
According to the Senate report, in the months before the attacks, the intelligence community provided strategic warning through numerous intelligence reports that the security situation in eastern Libya was deteriorating and that US facilities and personnel were at risk in Benghazi.
It said the State Department should have increased its security posture more significantly in Benghazi based on the deteriorating security situation on the ground and intelligence threat reporting on the prior attacks against Westerners in Benghazi ? including two previous incidents at the Temporary Mission Facility on April 6, and June 6, 2012.
There were no US military resources in position to intervene in short order in Benghazi to help defend the Temporary Mission Facility and its Annex.
Unarmed US military surveillance assets were not delayed when responding to the attack, and they provided important situational awareness for those under siege during the attacks, the report said.
The Senate Committee said more than a year after the Benghazi attacks, the terrorists who perpetrated the attack have still not been brought to justice.
Coming out with a set of 18 recommendations, the Senate Committee said the State Department must ensure that security threats are quickly assessed and security upgrades are put into place with minimal bureaucratic delay.
Commenting on the report, the State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said, "There have now been several reports on the issue, as well as multiple hearings and briefings on Capitol Hill. The facts are well-known, as are our efforts to prevent similar attacks in the future."
"As we have repeatedly said, there was no specific threat indicating an attack was coming.?Obviously, we`ve talked at length about the fact that we knew there were extremists and terrorists operating in Libya and in Benghazi. But again, we had no specific information indicating a threat, an attack was coming," she said in response to a question.