On Tuesday a 39-page review of the September 11 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was released. The blistering report blames “systemic failures” at the State Department for the terrorist attack at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi which resulted in the death of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. An independent review board concluded that the security at the facility was “grossly inadequate” and officials in Washington, D.C. ignored “repeated requests” to beef up personnel there. The report also said there was a “lack of transparency, responsiveness and leadership at the senior levels,” in Washington, Tripoli and Benghazi. This morning Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) joins “Starting Point” to weigh in on the report as well as the ongoing fiscal cliff negotiations in Washington.
Cole says the independent report is a very “damning indictment on State Department performance.” Some parts of the report however point fingers toward Congress and the spending cuts they approved but Cole says, “There’s usually a lot of latitude within the State Department budget about where they put resources. So giving the State Department less money doesn’t mean there’s less money for security. It means maybe they should reprioritize where they’re putting some of their dollars.” He adds, “There’s clearly a lot of blame to go around” but that “the administration is responsible here. That’s what the executive branch does is run these departments and in this case frankly they failed and it had tragic consequences.”
The report also states that the board found no U.S. government employee engaged in misconduct and as a result did not recommend any individual be disciplined. In response to this Cole says, “When you don’t say somebody was responsible - there were all these failures, it was a terrible situation but nobody was responsible - that just doesn’t square with the facts… and somebody didn’t get the job done.”
On the topic of the fiscal cliff Cole says, “I think the two sides are still a ways apart…but I think at the end of the day if you look at where both sides were Friday and where they were yesterday morning the differences are narrower in the last 72 hours.” He adds that’s the latest negotiations “doesn’t mean we have a solution but we’re moving toward one another.”