"Secretary Clinton has done an extraordinary job," President Obama told CNN's Candy Crowley during the second presidential debate. "But she works for me," Obama continued, "I'm the president and I'm always responsible, and that's why nobody's more interested in finding out exactly what happened than I do."
We still do not know exactly what happened in Benghazi the night Chris Stevens, U.S. ambassador to Libya, and three other Americans were killed, or why United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice made false statements about the incident that Sunday on national television. But the Accountability Review Board convened by Clinton has issued a report. And this is what it found.
"Systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department (the "Department") resulted in a Special Mission security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place ...
"Board members found a pervasive realization among personnel who served in Benghazi that the Special Mission was not a high priority for Washington when it came to security-related requests, especially those relating to staffing ...
"The Board found that certain senior State Department officials within two bureaus demonstrated a lack of proactive leadership and management ability in their responses to security concerns posed by Special Mission Benghazi, given the deteriorating threat environment and the lack of reliable host government protection. However, the Board did not find reasonable cause to determine that any individual U.S. government employee breached his or her duty."
No specific "senior" officials were named by the Accountability Review Board, but the same day its report was issued, three State Department employees, including two who oversaw security decisions at the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, resigned. Finally, it seemed as though somebody was going to be held accountable for the security failures in Benghazi.
Except no one was.
It turns out that none of the State Department officials who supposedly resigned after the Accountability Review Board report has actually left the agency. All of them are either still working for the State Department today, or are on administrative leave and expected back soon.
So much for accountability.
For purely political reasons, the Obama administration has misled the American people about the terrorist attack in Benghazi from day one. "General Motors is alive and Osama bin Laden is dead," was Vice President Biden's favorite line during the campaign.
But a terrorist attack on the anniversary of Sept. 11 would have destroyed that talking point. That is why Rice refused to use the word "terrorism" and instead blamed "a spontaneous reaction" to a video when pressed by NBC's David Gregory on "Meet the Press."
Did Obama's overconfidence about his supposed victory over al Qaeda lead to lax security at Benghazi? How involved was al Qaeda in the attack? How involved is al Qaeda in the violence in Syria? What is the administration doing to prevent future al Qaeda attacks on Americans?
Senators must demand some real answers and accountability from the Obama administration on Benghazi. Clinton has already ducked one Senate hearing due to a sudden illness. That is unacceptable. The American people deserve answers.
Republican senators should put a hold on the nomination of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to replace Clinton as secretary of state. Bottom line: No vote on Kerry until Clinton testifies.