Four State Department employees suspended after the Benghazi, Libya, terrorist attack are going back to work. After a months-long suspension and investigation, no one will get fired, department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Tuesday.
A State Department review of the December report from the Benghazi Accountability Review Board confirmed that despite mistakes, they could find no “breach of duty.” Apparently the suspended employees did their jobs badly, and four people died—but they still did their jobs. After their reinstatement, all four will get new assignments in the agency. All Harf would say is that the positions are “best suited to their experiences and capabilities.”
The Sept. 11, 2012, attack took the lives of two former Navy Seals, a State Department employee, and Ambassador Christopher Stevens. The month before the attack, the State Department removed a 16-person security team, leaving the diplomatic mission virtually defenseless, even as the ambassador warned of increased terrorist activity.
With less than two months before last year’s election, the Obama administration claimed for days with an air of certainty that the attack was a protest-gone-bad over an obscure YouTube video. We now know the CIA labeled the event a terrorist attack from the beginning.
After the Benghazi Accountability Review Board issued its report, the State Department placed the four employees on leave. Eric J. Boswell, the assistant secretary for diplomatic security, had reportedly resigned, but will apparently return.
Things could have been done better—that’s “patently obvious,” Harf said. But the real people at fault are the terrorists: “Clearly, there is nobody in the world that is more saddened … about what happened that day than the people who work in this building. And believe me, they are doing everything in their power to bring to account those that were actually responsible for what happened that day.”
Now House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., is promising to spend more time investigating why Secretary of State John Kerry decided “not to pursue any accountability from anyone,” according to CNN.
Harf touted the department and review board’s objective look at the facts, taking into account the employees’ entire body of work. You can’t just do things “to make us all feel better” when “you’re making decisions about real people and their careers,” she said.
On the other hand, Heather Smith, whose husband Sean worked in the mission, is a real widow. Her two young children, Samantha and Nathan, lost a real father. Tyrone Woods, who died trying to protect the compound, was a real husband with a real newborn baby. It’s true that State Department officials know details the public doesn’t, and Harf asked Americans to trust them. But the administration’s track record isn’t exactly clean on a tragedy officials have repeatedly called a “phony scandal.”