Today, the House Foreign Affairs Committee called State Department Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy to testify about his agency’s handling of last September’s terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.
Below is Chairman Royce’s opening statement as prepared for delivery at the hearing:
“Since September 11, 2012, the Committee has been focused on the tragedy in Benghazi, Libya, where terrorists killed four Americans that day, including our Ambassador, the first killed in the line of duty since 1979. The focus of today’s hearing, our fourth, is the troubling lack of accountability we have seen within the State Department since. The bottom line is that over one year later, no State Department personnel have been held accountable for the Department’s failure to protect the Benghazi consulate, and U.S. personnel. None.
As we know, there were so many things wrong with the State Department’s decision-making before this fatal attack. In the face of a glaring need, with violence in Benghazi mounting, critical security requests from the field were denied. The Department was asleep on 9/11. This led the Accountability Review Board to find “systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two [State Department] bureaus.” But no State Department personnel have been fired, or even disciplined. No one has missed a paycheck.
Accountability can be painful. Those making bad decisions may have long and otherwise good records. But the Department can’t have a culture of accountability, which is what any well-functioning organization needs, and which is essential to protecting its personnel, if no one is held accountable for the mismanagement and poor leadership the ARB identified.
Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) called for changes in the ARB that would make it a truly independent board.
But Kennedy disputed Royce’s contention that the board was biased in favor of the State Department, arguing that they were as professional a group as could be found.
Royce found that hard to believe since no one had been held accountable.
Kennedy lamely argued that four employees had been relieved of senior positions and reassigned to different positions, to which Royce countered – “no one has missed a paycheck…”
“Reassignments just don’t cut it”, he said.