I know that everyone is shocked shocked that the first independent report on the Benghazi debacle sharply criticized the State Department. Most of the criticism is expected: not enough guards, too much reliance on local militias, ignoring requests for safety upgrades, failure to coordinate between Diplomatic Security and Near Eastern Affairs. But what jumped out at me was this:
The panel blamed American intelligence officials for relying too much on specific warnings of imminent attacks, which they did not have in the case of Benghazi, rather than basing assessments more broadly on a deteriorating security environment. By this spring, Benghazi, a hotbed of militant activity in eastern Libya, had experienced a string of assassinations, an attack on a British envoy’s motorcade and the explosion of a bomb outside the American Mission.
This is the key. The Middle East has grown very unstable. From Tunisia to Iran, the situation has become unpredictable. You have to base security on the environment, not on specific intelligence. It’s a matter of being proactive about embassy security rather than reactive.
The panel has made 29 recommendations for changes and the State Department says it will implement them. But I think the lesson here — once again — is that the Administration was caught preparing for yesterday‘s terrorist attack, not today’s or tomorrow’s.