Washington, Dec 19 (IANS) In a potential embarrassment to the Obama administration, an independent review of the Sep 11 attack on the US mission in Benghazi has found "management deficiencies" at high levels of the State Department.
President Barack Obama's Republican challenger Mitt Romney had sought to make the attack that left four Americans, including US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, dead a major national security issue in the run up to the November presidential election.
"Systemic 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 report read.
It said "there was no protest prior to the attacks," which the report described as "unanticipated in their scale and intensity."
The report also cited as "inadequate" the Bureau of Diplomatic Security security staff in Benghazi on the day of the attack and in the months and weeks leading up to it, "despite repeated requests from Special Mission Benghazi and Embassy Tripoli for additional staffing."
The Accountability Review Board completed its investigation into the matter this week and sent a copy to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for review.
A classified version of the report was delivered Tuesday afternoon to members and staff of the committees on Capitol Hill that have jurisdiction over the State Department. The unclassified version was released Tuesday night.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters Tuesday that Clinton, who is home recovering from a stomach virus and concussion, wrote a letter to members of Congress that will accompany the report being sent to Capitol Hill.
Nuland also debunked suggestions by John Bolton, former UN ambassador under President George W. Bush that Clinton fabricated a "diplomatic illness" in order to dodge scheduled testimony this week on the Benghazi attack.
Speaking on Fox News, Bolton claimed "every foreign service officer in every foreign ministry in the world" is familiar with coming up with such "diplomatic illnesses" when they "don't want to go to a meeting or a conference, or an event."
"And this is a diplomatic illness to beat the band," he said.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)