UPDATE: Three U.S. State Department officials resigned today following the release of a report saying security failures left the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, vulnerable to attack on Sept. 11.
Eric Boswell, the assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, and Charlene Lamb, the deputy assistant secretary responsible for embassy security, stepped down under pressure after the release of the report. The third official worked for the Bureau of Near East Affairs but wasn't immediately identified.
EARLIER STORY: The State Department is to blame for the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya that cost Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans their lives, according to a report issued late yesterday by the leaders of an independent panel convened to investigate the attack.
"Systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department resulted in a Special Mission security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place," the report said.
Members of the Accountability Review Board also determined no protest in response to an American-made, anti-Islamic film took place outside the consulate that day, contrary to initial accounts from administration officials. The attack was indeed an act of terrorism, panel members concluded.
Despite the poor performance of the State Department as a whole, the board concluded no one individual ignored or violated his duties, and recommended no disciplinary action.
But Republicans vocal in their criticism of the administration’s response to the attack maintained their claim officials tried to cover up what really happened. In particular, they continued to point to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who made the round of Sunday talk shows to say the attack grew spontaneously from a peaceful protest.
"Now we all know she had knowledge,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., as he emerged from the Senate briefing on the report. “She knew what the truth was. It was a cover-up."
Even Democrats said the report showed the State Department had much to answer for, even if the review board found no evidence of willful misconduct.
"But it is also clear that there was a failure when it came to the management of security in Benghazi," Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said. "As a consequence some internal administrative action is being taken in the State Department."
In a letter accompanying the transmission of the report to Capitol Hill, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she accepted all of the board’s 29 recommendations to improve security at high-threat embassies and consulates, and said the department had already begun to implement some of them.