For John, BLUF: A Federal Department shows some backbone in dealing with a major problem—and people were fired.
Regarding the Benghazi Imbroglio, we had Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "accept responsibility" a while back, but the rubber met the road when we got the Unclassified Report of the Accountability Review Board, chaired by Ambassador Tom Pickering, with vice chairman Admiral Michael Mullen. Here is Wednesday's Press Conference for the release of the report. The report itself can be found here.
I have recently complained that Secretary Clinton's acceptance of responsibility was as hollow as that of Governor Patrick over a recent expulsion of one of the Commonwealth's senior administrators. However, this is a big deal. As someone I know pointed out:
This is a remarkable accountability moment for the State Department. And in the context of discussions of accountability for general officer building on writings by Mr Tom Ricks and others—this news merits more attention than it's getting.Actually, this is a remarkable event across Governments. Kudos to Secretary Clinton and the Department of State for this show of responsibility.
Three senior State Department officials resigned today in connection with this inquiry: Asst Secretary Eric Boswell (Diplomatic Security), Deputy Asst Secretary Charlene Lamb (Embassy Security), and Deputy Asst Secretary Ray Maxwell (North Africa). Assistant Secretaries are appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the US Senate. Protocol wise they are the equivalent of 3 or 4 star general. Deputay Assistant Secretaries (DAS) are also presidential appointees, but do not need Senate confirmation. They are the equivalent of 2 or 3 star generals. Within the Department of State some Asst Secretaries and DAS's are career personnel, while others are political appointees.
So, in effect, this inquiry resulted in the performance-related termination of three general officers. For the State Department, an organization that is smaller (in absolute number terms) than an Army division, this is a big deal.
Regards — Cliff