Right-Wing Media Falsely Claim State Department Ignored Benghazi Review Recommendations

››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

The right is selectively quoting an Inspector General (IG) report to accuse the State Department of ignoring the recommendations from the Benghazi Accountability Review Board (ARB). In fact, the IG report noted that the State Department is making progress implementing the ARB recommendations and praised its leadership as a model for future ARB responses.

Fox, Daily Caller Claim State Department Is "Dragging Its Feet" On Implementing ARB Recommendations

Fox News' Martha MacCallum Suggests Former Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton Lied About Implementing Recommendations. On Fox News' America's Newsroom, co-host Martha MacCallum suggested that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lied about implementing the ARB's recommendations. Fox News contributor Steve Hayes agreed, saying that the State Department is "not actually implementing any of the recommendations, or many of the recommendations to the extent that they said that they would." Fox News contributor Richard Grenell further said that State Department leadership "haven't implemented the recommendations." Throughout much of the segment, on-screen text said that the State Department "ignored security recommendations from Benghazi." [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 9/26/13]

Fox News' Heather Childers: IG Report Says State Department "Is Dragging Its Feet" On Implementing Recommendations. On Fox News' Fox & Friends First, co-host Heather Childers claimed that the State Department has "not learned its lesson" from the Benghazi attack on implementing security improvements:

CHILDERS: It has been more than a year after the deadly terror attack in Benghazi, and the State Department still has not learned its lesson. A brand new report reveals that is has ignored safety recommendations, doing almost nothing to enhance security at high-alert diplomatic outposts. And the Inspector General's office says that the State Department is dragging its feet. [Fox News, Fox & Friends First, 9/26/13]

Daily Caller: "State Department Has Ignored Security Recommendations." A Daily Caller post claimed that the IG "accused the State Department of dragging its feet in implementing new security standards," quoting a portion of the report which said that the State Department's actions "do not comply" with a specific recommendation: 

The inspector general's office accused the State Department of dragging its feet in implementing new security standards for the 27 overseas posts designated "high-threat" after the Benghazi attack. In doing so, it denounced the department for ignoring recommendations from the Benghazi Accountability Review Board (ARB).

"The Department's actions to date do not comply with this recommendation," auditors wrote. "The Benghazi ARB specifically tasked the Department to identify minimum security standards for occupancy in high-risk, high-threat environments. ... [The current standards] do not establish minimum security standards for occupancy or address requirements beyond construction standards." [The Daily Caller, 9/25/13]

But The IG Report Said The State Department "Wasted No Time" In Implementing Many Recommendations

IG Report: State Department "Is Making Progress Implementing The Benghazi Accountability Review Board Recommendations." Contrary to right-wing media claims, the IG report acknowledged the State Department's progress in implementing many of the recommendations made by the Benghazi ARB:

The Department of State is making progress implementing the Benghazi Accountability Review Board recommendations. Many of them have worldwide applicability and remain to be fully institutionalized.

Elsewhere, the report noted: "Implementation continues, albeit on a less regular schedule now that many of the recommendations have been addressed." [United States Department Of State Office Of Inspector General, September 2013]

IG Report: State Department "Wasted No Time Addressing The Recommendations Of The Benghazi ARB." According to the report, the State Department "wasted no time addressing the recommendations of the Benghazi ARB":

The Department wasted no time addressing the recommendations of the Benghazi ARB. It enlisted numerous bureaus and offices to assist in developing plans for implementation. It formed working groups and committees, established panels of experts, and convened special review boards. Senior Department leadership has been involved through information memos, action memos, and the chairing of review committees. In seeking to fulfill the ARB recommendations, the Department issued instructional and guidance cables, made changes to the FAM and Foreign Affairs Handbook (FAH), and modified position descriptions and organizational structures. [United States Department Of State Office Of Inspector General, September 2013]

IG Report Praised Actions Of Clinton And Kerry In Leading Implementation Of ARB Recommendations. The report praised the personal involvement of Secretaries Hillary Clinton and John Kerry as "a model for how the Department should handle future ARB recommendations":

The Department's handling of the Benghazi ARB recommendations represents a significant departure from the previous norm in that Secretary Clinton took charge directly of oversight for the implementation process. She designated the Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources as the coordinator for implementation with strict guidelines for a reporting schedule. Initially, the Deputy Secretary held weekly meetings with under secretaries and assistant secretaries to track implementation. Implementation continues, albeit on a less regular schedule now that many of the recommendations have been addressed.

This high-level oversight of the Benghazi ARB implementation process has been sustained through the transition from Secretary Clinton to Secretary Kerry. This level of attention from both secretaries and their senior staffs is a reflection of their personal concern in this matter and the unique scope of the Benghazi ARB recommendations. Approximately 90 percent of the recommendations (26 of 29) in the Benghazi report focused on systemic management reforms.

[...]

High-level leadership has been critical in driving and sustaining implementation of the Benghazi ARB recommendations, and this approach establishes a model for how the Department should handle future ARB recommendations. [United States Department Of State Office Of Inspector General, September 2013]

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