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Lawmakers, State officials tangle over Benghazi attack after scathing report faults management failures

By Donna Cassata

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Dec. 20 2012 12:23 p.m. MST

An unclassified version of the report by the Accountability Review Board found "systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels" of the State Department meant that security was "inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place."

The report singled out the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the Bureau of Near East Affairs for criticism.

Obama administration officials said those who resigned were Eric Boswell, assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security; Charlene Lamb, deputy assistant secretary responsible for embassy security; and Raymond Maxwell, deputy assistant secretary of state who oversees Libya, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss personnel matters publicly.

Some of the three may have the option of being reassigned to other duties, said the officials.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the department had accepted the resignations of four people: Boswell and three others she declined to identify.

The resignations did little to mollify lawmakers who insisted that Clinton testify in the coming weeks despite her plan to leave the administration. Kerry said she would appear before the panel in January.

Clinton had been scheduled to testify before the committees but canceled after fainting and sustaining a concussion last week while recovering from a stomach virus. Clinton is under doctors' orders to rest.

"She is ultimately responsible for the department and U.S. posts around the world. Her testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is indispensable to any effort to address this failure and put in place a process to ensure this never happens again," said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

The report's findings underscore a fundamental problem the State Department has been trying to address for decades without success: how to protect diplomats while allowing them to perform their duties to reach out to foreign governments and the public to promote U.S. interests and values.

In a letter to Congress, Clinton said "our diplomats cannot work in bunkers and do their jobs."

"When America is absent, especially from dangerous places, there are consequences," she said. "Extremism takes root, our interests suffer, and our security at home is threatened. We must accept a level of risk to protect this country we love and to advance our interests and values around the world."

Associated Press writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report.

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