The Senate hearing on the Benghazi report went on without Hillary Clinton today, and one State Department official acknowledged that upper levels of the department were aware of security concerns at the diplomatic mission before the attack occurred:
A top State Department official acknowledged Thursday that cables warning of serious security concerns at the U.S. compound in Benghazi went to department headquarters – and possibly to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s office – in the months leading up to the deadly Sept. 11 attack.
Deputy Secretary of State Williams Burns, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the cables “would have been reviewed up through the assistant secretary level, and it may be that some of my colleagues on the seventh floor saw them as well.” The seventh floor refers to Clinton’s office.
Further, Burns confirmed “there were certainly memos” that came to Clinton’s office describing some of the dozens of security incidents in the region before the attack that claimed four American lives.
Clinton had great timing with that head injury. All we know from today’s hearing is that her office “may” have been aware of the red flags, but that’s still not a confirmation. Had Clinton been there, she would have had no good answer: if she wasn’t aware of the security problems, that doesn’t say much about her competence. If she was aware and did nothing, well, that’s much worse.
Four State Department officials have reportedly resigned due to the report, including diplomatic security head Eric Boswell, and deputy assistant for embassy security Charlene Lamb. But both Lamb and Boswell should have stepped down a long time ago, based on Lamb’s completely incriminating testimony a few months ago. It’s as if they were only kept around so that the State Department could have some people ready to axe as soon as the report came out. But it doesn’t look like any serious heads are going to roll. Clinton will have to deal with this if she chooses to run for president in 2016, and by that time the details of the controversy will be a distant memory.