WASHINGTON – Perhaps the most uncomfortable aspect of an independent panel’s review of the deadly Sept. 11 attacks on U.S. posts in Benghazi is that part of the blame for security lapses lay with the incident’s most prominent casualty: Ambassador Chris Stevens.
The Accountability Review Board’s report, released late Tuesday and the subject of congressional hearings this week, praised Stevens as “an exceptional practitioner of modern diplomacy” who personified the U.S. commitment to a democratic Libya. However, the report suggests on numerous pages, Stevens also failed to respond seriously to the deteriorating security situation around him, while his prominent stature made Washington unusually deferential to him on security and policy matters.
As chief of mission for Libya, the report’s authors said, Stevens would have been the authority on the dangers posed to U.S. interests by the various local militias roaming the city – a threat that the report says was inadequately taken into consideration by officials in Tripoli and Washington.
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