Report claims 'failures' by State Dept. in consulate attack

The Judicial Watch report claims there were 20 security incidents involving the U.S. Consulate in Libya before the Sept. 11 attack.

A Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group has released a report criticizing the State Department’s actions related to the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on the Libyan Consulate, a day before Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton addressed the matter at a congressional hearing.

Judicial Watch, a non-partisan educational foundation, released a report Tuesday titled “The Benghazi Attack of September 11, 2012: Analysis and Further Questions from a Diplomatic Security Service Regional Security Officer and Special Agent.

The report examined the Obama administration’s actions before, during and after the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya that resulted in the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

Related: Clinton gives testimony at congressional hearing

Video: Hillary Clinton chokes up during Benghazi testimony

The report concluded the Benghazi attack “resulted from a wide range of strategic and tactical failures by State Department officials.”

One of the criticisms involved the administration's initial claims that an Internet video mocking Muhammad, Islam’s holy prophet, caused a spontaneous riot that resulted in the raids, even after Libyan President Mohamed al-Magarief said the day of the attack that it had been carried out by “experienced masterminds.”

The office of the Director National Intelligence James Robert Clapper Jr. revised its assessment of the attack nearly two weeks afterward to say the raids had been organized in advance and carried out by extremists, some of them linked to al Qa’ida.  

During her testimony Wednesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Clinton accepted responsibility for the department’s actions, though she also defended the administration’s initial conclusion about the cause of the attack.

"The fact is we had four dead Americans,” she said to Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. "Was it because of a protest? Or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator."

She then said the motives for the raid are still not clear.

"Even today there are questions being raised," she said. 

The report goes on to claim the government had “ample reason to believe that the security situation in Benghazi was deteriorating rapidly” before the raid occurred, claiming there had been 20 security incidents prior to the raid in 2012. Yet, the report said, requests for further security by the consulate were denied by officials in Washington.

Clinton, who will be stepping down from her position, said the State Department intends to carry out 29 recommendations as part of an independent review board’s report released Dec. 18. The board’s report also harshly criticized the department’s actions, and four department officials were removed from their position after its release.

At the same time, Clinton noted that the board also concluded “our response saved American lives in real time – and it did.”

“We are taking a top-to-bottom look, and rethinking how we make decisions on where, when and how our people operate in high threat areas, and how we respond to threats and crises,” she said.  

Clinton was the sole witness at hearings before the Senate and House foreign policy panels concerning the raids.

Phone calls to the State Department seeking comment about the report were not returned.

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