Now we know that the warnings were clear. Our diplomatic outposts in Libya were at great risk as the Sept. 11 anniversary neared. The State Department, however, paid little heed to the security threats, and on that day another terrorist attack took place in Benghazi, killing our ambassador, another diplomat and two CIA contractors.
The Obama administration, helped by the media's initial accounts of a spontaneous protest against an anti-Islamist video, successfully delayed any accounting for these events until after November's election. It can't distance itself any more from this terrible security breakdown at the temporary consulate there.
An investigation by the State Department's Accountability Review Board found a "systemic failure" of leadership in the department -- and that's just from the unclassified version. The secret one was presented to two congressional committees yesterday.
The report also found Congress has failed to provide the funding needed to adequately protect our diplomatic missions. That's not an excuse for what happened on Sept. 11, but the spilled blood in Benghazi tells us there is much to do. The State Department has made a request to transfer $1.3 billion allocated for Iraq to a fund to harden front-line outposts in dangerous areas. Do it. Relying on local militias or the host country for protection in volatile regions is not enough.
Two top officials responsible for diplomatic and embassy security resigned under pressure Wednesday, but there still must be accountability from the top. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declined to answer questions before the inquiry was completed.
We still don't know why State didn't have the proper intelligence information about threats or why it had ignored what the review board said were requests from the U.S. embassy in Tripoli for better security in Benghazi. Clinton canceled an appearance Thursday before Congress because of illness. She still has to answer these questions before she leaves the job.