By Elise Labott
An independent panel has found the State Department has not overall paid enough attention to oversees security for diplomatic posts and called for it to be elevated in importance, several sources familiar with the matter said.
Led by former Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan, the panel was created as part of a broad inquiry of last September's deadly terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.
A separate assessment by the Accountability Review Board, established after the Benghazi attack, criticized the department for failing to provide adequate security and made 29 recommendations.
One was the creation of the latest analysis to identify "best practices" in the public and private sectors in security intelligence, risk management and accountability, all areas where problems were identified at the State Department.
By Jill Dougherty
Four State Department workers who were put on leave after last year's attack on a U.S. mission in Libya will be allowed to resume work, but in different positions, a senior State Department official told CNN on Tuesday.
News of the move irked U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, one of the Republicans who've pressed the State Department to punish employees for what the lawmakers say were ignored security warnings in advance of the September attack on the Benghazi mission, which left Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead.
"Instead of accountability, the State Department offered a charade that included false reports of firings and resignations and now ends in a game of musical chairs where no one misses a single day on the State Department payroll," Issa, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said Tuesday.
"The Oversight Committee will expand its investigation of the Benghazi terrorist attack to include how a supposed 'Accountability Review Board' investigation resulted in a decision by Secretary Kerry not to pursue any accountability from anyone," Issa added.FULL STORY
By Evan Perez
Federal agents and prosecutors investigating the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi have filed charges against Ahmed Khattalah, leader of a Libyan militia that officials believe was involved in the assault, people briefed on the investigation said. The charges under seal are the first criminal counts to emerge from the probe.
The investigation of the attack last September 11 that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others continues, these people said, as investigators try to build their case against Khattalah and others who authorities believe were involved.
Attorney General Eric Holder had earlier this year promised congressional lawmakers the Justice Department would soon make public what actions it would take.
With the anniversary of the attack looming, the Justice Department has come under criticism for the lack of public progress in the case.FULL STORY
By John King
Nearly a year later, Benghazi remains a flashpoint in Washington for two very different reasons: indefensible pre-attack policy decisions and irresistible post-attack politics.
The Obama White House, from the president on down, complains of "phony" Republican-led congressional investigations. Yet the administration's own reluctant, and at times inaccurate, responses to congressional inquiries have contributed to the GOP charge that the administration, at a minimum, has been less than transparent.
"We need to get to the bottom of what happened that terrible night, why it happened, and how we can prevent similar tragedies in the future," House Speaker John Boehner said last week in serving notice the House Benghazi investigations would continue into the fall, and include new subpoenas for documents and testimony if necessary.
Erin Burnett Out Front: Benghazi attack timeline
Program note: Was there a political cover up surrounding the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans? Erin Burnett anchors a CNN special investigation: The Truth About Benghazi, Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET.FULL STORY
By Barbara Starr, Jill Dougherty and Dana Bash, with reporting from Elise Labott, Evan Perez and Gloria Borger
U.S. intelligence has been tracking a growing threat against American and Western targets from al Qaeda’s affiliate organization in Yemen for the last several weeks.
But in recent days, there has been additional intelligence about a potential attack in Yemen, as well as threats against U.S. interests in the Middle East and North Africa, leading to the Obama administration’s decision to shut down U.S. embassies and warn publicly of the threat, U.S. officials tell CNN.
Based on the intelligence, officials say, there is particular concern about the U.S. Embassy in Yemen between Saturday and Tuesday. Sunday, one of the holiest days in Islam, marks the end of Ramadan, and officials say they are concerned about attacks on that day.
The threat against the U.S. Embassy in Yemen was a primary concern, but it was ambiguous and could indicate threats against other U.S. and other Western targets in the Mideast and North Africa, another U.S. official told CNN.
The officials say the threat is linked to al Qaeda, rather than emanating directly from al Qaeda’s traditional stronghold in Pakistan.
CNN has uncovered exclusive new information about what is allegedly happening at the CIA, in the wake of the deadly Benghazi terror attack.
Four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed in the assault by armed militants last September 11 in eastern Libya.
Sources now tell CNN dozens of people working for the CIA were on the ground that night, and that the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing, remains a secret.
CNN has learned the CIA is involved in what one source calls an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency's Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out.FULL STORY
By Elise Labott
Editor's note: This is one in a series of stories and opinion pieces surrounding the Aspen Security Forum currently taking place in Aspen, Colorado. Security Clearance is a media sponsor of the event, which is taking place from July 17 to 20 in Aspen, Colorado.
The former head of U.S. forces in Africa said the September 11, 2012, attack on the American mission in Benghazi quickly appeared to be a terrorist attack and not a spontaneous protest.
It was clear "pretty quickly that this was not a demonstration. This was a violent attack," former Gen. Carter Ham told the Aspen Security Forum on Friday. Ham is the former chief of U.S. Africa Command, commonly known as AFRICOM.
By Peter Bergen
Editor's note: This is one in a series of stories and opinion pieces previewing the upcoming Aspen Security Forum. Security Clearance is a media sponsor of the event, which is taking place from July 17 to 20 in Aspen, Colorado. Peter Bergen is CNN's national security analyst and the author of "Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden, from 9/11 to Abbottabad."
Every July in the lush, green mountains of Aspen, Colorado, many of the top present and former U.S. national security officials and other experts gather to discuss how the war against al Qaeda and its allies is going.
Ahead of last year's Aspen conference, I wrote a piece for CNN provocatively titled "Time to declare victory: Al Qaeda is defeated." And I then spoke on a panel at Aspen where I tried to make the case for this position.
I'm not sure too many of the folks in Aspen were convinced. (If they had been, it would hardly seem necessary to travel back to Aspen again this year!)
Since last year's Aspen conference, a group of men only very loosely aligned with al Qaeda attacked the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing four U.S. diplomats and CIA contractors.FULL STORY
By Larry Shaughnessy
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told members of Congress on Wednesday that Army special forces in Tripoli were never told to "stand down" from rushing to Benghazi to help when the diplomatic mission there came under attack last year.
In doing so, he disputed the claims of Gregory Hicks, the former deputy chief of mission in Libya who testified last month before a House committee that a unit of four special forces troops was told to stand down rather than rush to Benghazi.
The September 11 attack killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
By Ted Barrett
The U.S. government has identified "a certain number of people" believed involved in the Benghazi, Libya, attack, a senior Republican lawmaker told CNN on Tuesday.
The lawmaker said that government investigators have put identities to individuals seen in surveillance video of the attack.
"They know the names. That's what we haven't known. These are individuals they know now. Not just the pictures," the senior lawmaker said.
The lawmaker, who is familiar with the status of the investigation, could not say how many had been identified.
Just last week, Attorney General Eric Holder hinted there were developments in the investigation. FULL POST