According to the Special Review of the Accountability Review Board Process (ISP-I-13-44A), the Permanent Coordinating Committee (PCC) is the body within the State Department that must convene ASAP after a serious security incident at a U.S. mission abroad and determine whether or not to recommend that the secretary of state convene an Accountability Board Review (ARB).
P 7 ¶ 1 Permanent Coordinating Committee
“The Committee will, as quickly as possible after an incident occurs, review the available facts and recommend to the Secretary to convene or not convene a Board. (Due to the 1999 revision of the law requiring the Secretary to convene a Board not later than 60 days after the occurrence of an incident, except that such period may be extended for one additional 60-day the Committee will meet within 30 days of the incident, if enough information is available.) In addition, the Committee will meet yearly to review the ARB process, existing policies and procedures, and ensure that any necessary changes are effected.” – 12 Foreign
Affairs Manual 032.1
On October 7, 2012 Hillary Clinton announced that not only had the recommendation been made but also that the ARB had been formed and would commence meeting that very week – well within the timeline stated in the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM). Many of you will remember that the Tea Party was already stridently calling for this review, however it is clear from the FAM directive that this process went a good deal more quickly than was required.
P 16 ¶ 8 Secretary’s Report to Congress
“Report to Congress: the Secretary will, no later than 90 days after the receipt of a
Board’s program recommendations, submit a report to the Congress on each such
recommendation and the action taken or intended to be taken with respect to that
recommendation.” – 12 Foreign Affairs Manual 036.3a.
The delivery of the completed report along with a cover letter dated December 18, 2012 delineating in detail many steps Hillary had already taken to address weaknesses in security at U.S. missions worldwide also came in well before the deadlines outlined in the FAM. The cover letter is a brilliant analysis and well worth the read. If you happen to find yourself in a discussion on the subject of Benghazi, the events surrounding this attack, and State Department responses to it, you will find valuable points therein. The letter and reports were addressed and delivered to the chairs and ranking members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
P 19 ¶ 1 “All of us—from senior Department leadership setting strategic priorities to supervisors evaluating the needs of individual posts to congressional committees appropriating funds and providing oversight—have a responsibility to provide the men and women who serve this country with the best possible security and support. Most of all, it is my responsibility as Secretary of State.” – Secretary Hillary Clinton
One wonders how many times Hillary Clinton needs, orally and in writing, to take responsibility for Benghazi for the Tea Party to stop accusing her of dodging that responsibility. Breaking news the night before a presidential debate, on October 17, 2012 was that while traveling in Peru Hillary had stated in an interview that the responsibility was hers. Her signature is, in perpetuity, on that letter where she assumed responsibility. Must she wander the streets with a bell like a town crier declaring, “The buck stops with me?”
P 25 ¶ 1 Regional Bureau Shared Responsibility
ARB Recommendation 3: “As the President’s personal representative, the Chief of Mission bears ‘direct and full responsibility for the security of [his or her] mission and all the personnel for whom [he or she is] responsible,’ and thus for risk management in the country to which he or she is accredited. In Washington, each regional Assistant Secretary has a corresponding responsibility to support the Chief of Mission in executing this duty. Regional bureaus should have augmented support within the bureau on security matters, to include a senior DS officer to
report to the regional Assistant Secretary.”
Not to blame the victim, but security at Tripoli and Benghazi was a shared responsibility and some of that responsibility fell on Ambassador Stevens. Of all the players in this tragedy, he, from all indications, was most familiar with the culture of the country and the population in Benghazi in particular. In his absence, Gregory Hicks shared that responsibility at Embassy Tripoli of which he had been left in charge.
Fortunately, Embassy Tripoli was not subject to an attack, however, the reckless irresponsibility of Hicks’s decision to send the remaining two security officers from Tripoli to Benghazi is undeniable.
07/31/13 12:59 PM ET–
Col. George Bristol, who commanded an Africa-based task force at the time of the terrorist attack, told the House Armed Services Committee that he gave Lt. Col. S.E. Gibson, who led the site security team in Tripoli, initial freedom of action to respond to the attack on the U.S. facility in Benghazi.
Bristol corroborated testimony Gibson provided the committee last month that no “stand down” order was given — contradicting accusations made by critics of the Obama administration’s response to the attack — according to a description of Wednesday’s classified, members-only briefing of the Armed Services Oversight and Investigations subcommittee.
Gibson had testified last month that he was told not to send his team to Benghazi because they needed to remain in Tripoli to defend the U.S. Embassy there in case of additional attacks.
Among the Benghazi recommendations is this one regarding funding.
P ¶ 5 29 Funding
ARB Recommendation 10: “Recalling the recommendations of the Nairobi/Dar es Salaam Accountability Review Boards, the State Department must work with Congress to restore the Capital Security Cost Sharing Program at its full capacity as originally envisioned, adjusted for inflation, of approximately $2.2 billion in fiscal year 2015, including an up to 10-year program addressing that need, prioritized for construction of new facilities in high-risk and high-threat areas. It should also work with Congress to expand utilization of Overseas Contingency Operations funding to respond to emerging security threats and vulnerabilities and operational requirements in high-risk and high-threat posts like Benghazi and Tripoli.”
We do well to remember who stripped the DS funds two years in a row. There is plenty of responsibility to go around including upon those who clog Hillary Clinton’s Twitterfeed with cries of “Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi!” ignoring the role played by tight-fisted Tea Party House members who swear they will recall Hillary Clinton. If they do, we are certain that she will cooperate and be, as always, eminently well-prepared.
P 31 ¶ 2 Personnel Recommendations
No ARB has ever found “reasonable cause to believe” that a Federal employee or contractor has “breached a duty of that individual” as defined by the Act.
We have yet to hear any mea culpas emanating from Capitol Hill.