No one yet knows all the facts surrounding the deadly attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, but it’s clear that the State Department made a serious mistake. There wasn’t enough security to protect Ambassador Christopher Stevens. The Obama administration issued contradictory statements about what triggered the attacks. And days after the compound was burned, it was left so unsecured that a journalist plucked Stevens’s diary from the wreckage. Charlene Lamb, deputy assistant secretary for diplomatic security, didn’t help matters this week when she insisted that the consulate had “the correct number” of security assets on the ground. With four Americans dead, she should have admitted the obvious: It didn’t.
Still, it is disingenuous for members of Congress to express outrage over security failures after they voted to cut hundreds of millions in funding for diplomatic security last year. At the hearing this week, Representative Darrell Issa, the California Republican who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he was so concerned about the safety of US diplomats that he rushed to hold a public hearing even before the FBI investigation was finished. Yet he was silent when a colleague challenged him to help restore the funds.