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House Report: Hillary's Benghazi Probe Let Top Officials Off Hook

By Greg Richter   |   Sunday, 15 Sep 2013 08:21 PM

The State Department probe into the attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, was not independent and failed to hold top officials accountable, according to the House Oversight Committee's report scheduled for release on Monday.

Various media outlets obtained embargoed copies of the 100-page report on Sunday, including The Daily Beast.

The Administrative Review Board appointed by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton blamed four mid-level State Department officials while ignoring the roles of officials at the highest level of the department.

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The four mid-level employees were placed on paid leave, never told why, and later given new job assignments within the department.

But "the ARB blamed systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies within two bureaus, but downplayed the importance of decisions made at senior levels of the Department. Witnesses questioned how much these decisions influenced the weaknesses that led to the inadequate security posture in Benghazi,” the House committee's report said.

“The ARB’s decision to cite certain officials as accountable for what happened in Benghazi appears to have been based on factors that had little or no connection to the security posture at U.S. diplomatic facilities in Libya.”

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., heads up the committee releasing the report.

The report questions why Under Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy was never blamed or disciplined even though he admitted to having a role in denying repeated requests for added security at the post before it was attacked on Sept. 11, 2012.

“The haphazard decision to place the four officials cited by the ARB on paid administrative leave created the appearance that former Secretary Hillary Clinton’s decision to announce action against the individuals named in the ARB report was more of a public relations strategy than a measured response to a tragedy,” the report said.

“Therefore, one year after the Benghazi attacks, no one at the State Department has been fired for their role leading up to the Benghazi attacks. It appears increasingly likely the Department’s primary objective was to create the public appearance of accountability," the report continued.

The report questions Clinton's own awareness of possible role in the department's missteps that contributed to attack. The committee said the probe was rushed, taking only 10 weeks.

Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Douglas Franz told The Daily Beast on Sunday that Issa's committee was playing politics with Benghazi, and that the ARB had cooperated fully with Issa's investigation.

"In fact, it set a new standard for transparency measured by tens of thousands of pages of documents turned over to Congress, testimony in public and closed hearings and a declassified report for the public," Franz told Fox News. "To suggest anything has been hidden or that accountability has been averted requires willful ignorance of these facts."

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Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the lead Democrat on the committee, also defended the ARB report, telling CBS News the ARB conducted "one of the most comprehensive reviews in history."

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