- Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, in a bipartisan Senate report on the September 2012 attacks on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.
The bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee has concluded that the September 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans were killed, could have been prevented. The committee spent 15 months reviewing classified information about the attack before releasing their findings. CBS's Nancy Cordes reports
A bipartisan Senate report on the attacks on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, paints a picture of systemic failure of security for U.S. diplomats overseas that led to the deaths of the ambassador to Libya and three other Americans.
The report also takes the U.S. intelligence community to task for not seeking out eyewitness reports after the attacks and not quickly correcting erroneous reports to administration officials that the attacks might have been sparked by the video. The intelligence community later blamed the violence on militants.
The report says the subsequent investigation showed individuals from many al-Qaida-linked militant groups took part in the "opportunistic" attacks.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the chairman of the Senate committee, said she hopes the report will put to rest conspiracy theories about the militant attacks.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., the committee's vice chairman, said the report shows that despite a deteriorating security situation in Benghazi, the U.S. government did not do enough to prevent the attacks or to protect the diplomatic facility. .
"A broken system overseen by senior leadership contributed to the vulnerability of U.S. diplomats ... in one of the most dangerous cities in the world," , Sen. Susan Collins said in the report. "And yet the secretary of state has not held anyone responsible for the system's failings."
The report does not name Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time and is a probable 2016 presidential candidate.
The intelligence community didn't send enough warnings, the State Department didn't take the warnings it did get seriously enough, and the military was caught flat-footed when called on to rescue those in need, according to a long-delayed Senate Intelligence Committee report released Wednesday.
U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, information technology specialist Sean Smith and CIA security contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty died in the attacks that took place Sept. 11-12, 2012.
The report goes so far as to say the attacks could have been prevented if the State Department had accepted security on offer from the military or had closed the Benghazi facility until it could have been better secured.
The report for the first time points specifically to Stevens for twice refusing the U.S. military's offer to keep a special operations team there that was providing extra security in the weeks before the attacks.
On the 11th anniversary of the 2001 terror attacks, armed militants stormed the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, setting the building on fire, and later attacked the CIA annex where the Americans had taken shelter.
The Obama administration first described the attacks as a spontaneous mob protest of an anti-Islamic, American-made video, like the one at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo earlier that day. Administration officials corrected their description days after the attacks, but by then the incident had become a hot political issue that has continued to dog the administration.
The Senate report does note that the State Department has also created a new assistant secretary position for high-threat posts but says the department still needs institutional change to help it react more quickly to security threats. It said State should not rely on local security alone in countries where the host government cannot provide adequate protection, and it should avoid using diplomatic facilities it knows are inadequately protected.
The report notes that the State Department in 2012 had ignored its own "tripwires" set to determine when it had become too dangerous to operate in Benghazi, and continued to operate the facility there despite a growing number of U.S. intelligence reports showing the danger was rising.