Florida Rep. Allen West apparently couldn’t just go quietly back into the Florida night: Weeks before he has to leave Congress, the election day loser took a shot at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by suggesting she’s missing the Capitol Hill hearings on Benghazi not because she’s unwell after suffering a stomach virus and concussion last week but because she’s scared.
“I’m not a doctor, but it seems as though that the secretary of state has come down with a case of Benghazi flu,” West told Fox News. “I think we have to get to the bottom of this, there’s still very — countless amount of unanswered questions.”
West of course became famous this year for the long list of outrageous things he said about Democrats such as President Obama. Over the summer West twice in two weeks used the word “slavery” to describe what he said President Obama and the Democrats are doing to Americans who are increasingly dependent on government assistance.
But West lost his seat last month in a close contest that required a recount. But with his penchant for inflammatory rhetoric, we should not be surprised to see the retired Army lieutenant colonel pop up on Fox as a hired conservative commentator.
“Just because we see the resignations of these bureaucrats, I find it very interesting that some of those were the ones who testified before the government oversight committee, that does not mean that this ends,” West continued. “I don’t think that this should become the new normal and the next thing you know, four years from now, we have Hillary Clinton running for president when we had this death of the ambassador, two former Navy SEALs, and a foreign service officer.”
An independent panel that conducted an investigation into the Benghazi incident that killed four State Department employees issued a report that was released yesterday, concluding that while systematic failures in leadership and management led to “grossly inadequate” security, there was no single person who failed to do their job in the days leading up to the attack.
The Accountability Review Board criticized State for failing to respond to the warning signs that should have alerted officials that the U.S. Embassy in Libya was vulnerable to attack. Among the key mistakes mentioned, the board said that security depended heavily on local Libyan militias and that the State Department ignored requests for additional security assistance in the period leading up to the attacks.
But the panel, led by retired Ambassador Thomas Pickering and a former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, also praised the U.S. personnel in Libya for their swift response to the attack, which they said likely saved the lives of two other seriously injured personnel.
“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 panel said.
Despite the deficiencies, the board said no individual officials ignored or violated their duties and recommended no disciplinary action. But it also said poor performance by senior managers should be grounds for disciplinary recommendations in the future.
Secretary of State Clinton issued a statement thanking the panel for the report and saying that the department has already started implementing some of the suggested changes:
“The Accountability Review Board report provides a clear-eyed look at serious, systemic challenges that we have already begun to fix. I am grateful for its recommendations for how we can reduce the chances of this kind of tragedy happening again. I accept every one of them.”
While Clinton and the Obama administration were required by law to conduct the internal investigation when a State department official is killed, they weren’t required to release it publicly.
Clinton was scheduled to testify for Congressional hearings looking into the matter today, but it appears she won’t be able to make it after suffering a concussion when she fainted from dehydration last week. The announcement that she won’t be able to testify prompted former Bush administration diplomat John Bolton to say she was suffering from “diplomatic illness” to avoid testifying, a charge State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland angrily denied.
“Completely untrue,” department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Tuesday. “We put out such a full statement Saturday of exactly what was going on because people speculate wildly.”
Anyway, Clinton is scheduled to testify in mid-January. Her top deputies, William Burns and Thomas Nides, are testifying today on her behalf.
Meanwhile, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), seen as the Obama’s likely choice to replace Clinton at State now that UN Ambassador Susan Rice has withdrawn her name from consideration, said today that some in the State Department failed to “see the forest for the trees” as security conditions deteriorated in Benghazi.
Four State Department managers reportedly have been disciplined in the wake of the attack. The report did not fault Clinton directly.