By Elise Labott
Three State Department officials, including two who oversaw security decisions at the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, resigned in the wake of a review of security failures there, senior State Department officials told CNN Wednesday.
The independent review of the September 11 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi released Tuesday cites "systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies" at the State Department.
The attacks killed four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
The failures resulted in a security plan "that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place," the 39-page unclassified version of the report concludes.
Despite all the criticism, the board found no U.S. government employee had engaged in misconduct or ignored responsibilities, and it did not recommend any individual be disciplined.
Eric Boswell, assistant secretary of diplomatic security, and Charlene Lamb, deputy assistant secretary of state for international programs, submitted their resignations, a senior official said. A third official in the Near East Affairs bureau also resigned, the official said.
Boswell and Lamb oversaw security for the Benghazi mission. Lamb testified before Congress about the security precautions. Documents show Lamb denied repeated requests for additional security in Libya.
By Dan Lothian
After facing criticism from Republican lawmakers surrounding her characterization of the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice will hold meetings on Capitol Hill about Libya, an administration official said Monday.
Rice will meet with Sen. John McCain on Tuesday morning, a Senate source said.FULL STORY
By Pam Benson
The intelligence community - not the White House, State Department or Justice Department - was responsible for the substantive changes made to the talking points distributed for government officials who spoke publicly about the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, the spokesman for the director of national intelligence said Monday.
The unclassified talking points on Libya, developed several days after the the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, were not substantively changed by any agency outside of the intelligence community, according to the spokesman, Shawn Turner.
Republican criticism of the talking points intensified last Friday following a closed door hearing with former CIA Director David Petraeus.
Rep. Peter King, R-New York, told reporters after the hearing that the original talking parts drafted by the CIA had been changed and it was unclear who was responsible.
"The original talking points were much more specific about al Qaeda involvement and yet final ones just said indications of extremists," King said.
By Jennifer Rizzo, with reporting from Pam Benson
Former CIA Director David Petraeus testified on Capitol Hill on Friday that the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was an act of terrorism committed by al Qaeda-linked militants.
That's according to Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who spoke to reporters after the closed hearing, which lasted an hour and 20 minutes.
The account Petraeus gave was different from the description the Obama administration gave on September 14, King said.
Then, the attack was described as "spontaneous," the result of a protest against an anti-Muslim film that got out of control outside the compound.
Petraeus told lawmakers Friday that he had discussed the possibility of it being a terrorist attack in his initial briefing in September, according to King.
"He had told us that this was a terrorist attack and there were terrorists involved from the start," King said. "I told him, my questions, I had a very different recollection of that (earlier account)," he said. "The clear impression we (lawmakers) were given was that the overwhelming amount of evidence was that it arose out of a spontaneous demonstration and it was not a terrorist attack."
The "spontaneous" adjective was "minimized" during Petraeus' testimony Friday, King said.
With reporting from Suzanne Kelly and Pam Benson
While affairs may be commonplace in Washington, when they involve the director of the CIA, things can take on a different tone.
A U.S. official has said there was no breach of national security as a result of David Petraeus' affair, but that hasn't stopped discussion that Paula Broadwell could have gained access to classified information as a result of what she has routinely described as "unprecedented access" to Petraeus.
That discussion seemed to gain momentum Monday thanks to comments Broadwell made in a speech last month at the University of Denver.
"I don't know if a lot of you have heard this, but the CIA annex had actually taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner and they think that the attack on the consulate was an effort to get these prisoners back," Broadwell said.
A senior intelligence official told CNN on Monday, "These detention claims are categorically not true. Nobody was ever held at the annex before, during, or after the attacks."
Broadwell's source for that previously unpublished bit of information remains unclear, and there's no evidence so far that it came from Petraeus. Administration officials have said the Benghazi assault was a terrorist attack. FULL POST
By Jill Dougherty and Mike Mount
With the election over, the Obama administration is releasing more information to Congress and journalists about the deadly attack on the U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya. Post-election, the questions of the Obama administration's handling of the attacks continue, and the Pentagon and State Department Friday released information to try to further clarify decisions made before, during and after the attacks.
The information is the latest attempt by the various U.S. agencies to explain their role in the attacks which killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. After being bombarded with requests from congressional committees for documents about the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, the State Department said Friday it has handed over a number of documents to Congress for review.
And Friday afternoon the Pentagon released and hour-by-hour timeline highlighting when Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his senior commanders were told of the attacks and when decisions were made to move forces to assist. The information shows that the scramble to respond was not even close to being in a time frame to help fend off the attack, with special units only getting in position a half-day after the attack ended.
The Pentagon's timeline does not uncover any discrepancies from what has been said publicly by Panetta, but it does show that the first U.S. FULL POST
By Pam Benson
Senior intelligence, State Department and FBI officials can expect to be grilled next week as congressional hearings resume on the terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya that killed four Americans.
Lawmakers want answers to many outstanding questions surrounding the September 11 armed assault on the diplomatic facility and a CIA annex in Benghazi.
Specifically, they want to know who was responsible, whether it was planned, the intelligence reporting on the threat to Libya prior the attack, and whether security was adequate.
The Senate Intelligence Committee will conduct a closed-door hearing on November 15. Scheduled witnesses include Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director David Petraeus, Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy, FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce and National Counterterrorism Center Director Matt Olsen.
Clapper, Petraeus and Olsen will also testify behind closed doors to the House Intelligence Committee on the same day.
From Suzanne Kelly
A senior U.S. intelligence official emphatically denied that the CIA refused repeated requests from its officers on the ground in Benghazi, Libya, to assist the Americans under attack at the U.S. mission there.
Just five days before the presidential election and in a rare briefing to reporters, the official Thursday offered almost a minute-by-minute account of what happened that night.
According to a Fox News report last Friday, citing an unnamed source, CIA officers working at an annex about a mile from the mission were told by officials in the CIA chain of command to "stand down" after receiving a call from the mission asking for help.
"There were no orders to anybody to stand down in providing support," the senior intelligence official said, offering a passionate defense of the actions taken by the CIA officers on the ground during the September 11 attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
The official insisted the agency operators at the annex were in charge of their movements and the safety of those who were preparing to respond to the initial attack on the mission compound.
By Elise Labott
Two hours after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, the White House, the State Department and the FBI were told that an Islamist group had claimed credit, government e-mails obtained by CNN show.
One of the e-mails - sent from a State Department address to various government agencies - specifically identifies Ansar al-Sharia as claiming responsibility for the attack on its Facebook page and on Twitter.
The e-mails raise further questions about the seeming confusion on the part of the Obama administration to determine the nature of the September attack and those who planned it.
The attack left U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead.
By Danielle Pletka, Special to CNN
EDITOR’S NOTE: Danielle Pletka is Vice President of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. The views expressed are her own.
Fewer and fewer voters rate national security as their top priority in considering how to vote, which begs the question of who will be watching this last presidential debate, since the focus is foreign policy and national security.
Not to worry, the wonks will be out in force, and we'll be looking for a few key things from each candidate.
First, from Mitt Romney:
That vision thing: Romney needs to do more than simply be the un-Obama. We'll be looking for a positive vision that puts some meat on the bones of his call for a new era of American leadership and exceptionalism. Both are fine sentiments, but essentially meaningless without policy to go with them. And in straitened economic times, with a public weary of spending and war, he'll need to make clear that his priorities will keep America safe and strong without breaking the bank or putting more lives on the line. FULL POST