Fallout from Benghazi report may shadow Clinton
(CBS News) The independent investigation of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi blames failures of leadership and management problems within two bureaus at the State Department for the missteps that eventually lead to the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three additional American personnel in Libya.
The two bureaus -- Near Eastern Affairs and Diplomatic Security -- were criticized for a security posture that was "grossly inadequate to deal with the attack," and for failing to coordinate with other agencies to better secure the consulate. The report notes that there was an "inadequate" number of security agents in Benghazi and that officials ignored requests from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli for better security at the Benghazi Consulate.
The report also found that there was an intelligence "knowledge gap" in which officials failed to recognize the high-threat environment in Benghazi and the degree to which Libyan militias -- which ran away as the attackers approached -- were unprepared to protect the compound.
The report did not single out any individuals for culpability, but the State Department will shoulder the brunt of the blame, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sending a letter to Congress indicating that she accepts all 29 of the report's recommendations to strengthen security at diplomatic posts and recognizing the need to address "serious, systemic challenges" at the State Department.
But Clinton's letter may not be enough to stem the political fallout. On "CBS This Morning," CBS News political director John Dickerson posited that the "political focus of this moment" rests on Clinton for two reasons: "One, it's a kind of messy end to what has otherwise been seen in bipartisan opinion as a strong career as secretary of state."
The second reason? The ever-present speculation about Clinton's political aspirations in 2016. "What Republicans say about this report and her culpability for the failures will be played again and again if she is the nominee or runs in 2016," explained Dickerson.
"The big question here was, 'Did Hillary Clinton duck this when it was going on? Did the administration know there was a systemic failure here, but try to push away that story and create a new story?'" said Dickerson. "Much better for it to be a spontaneous attack which no one could see coming than to have systemic failures which they should have seen coming."
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