Deputy press secretary Marie Harf on Tuesday defended Secretary of State John Kerry’s decision to reinstate four State Department officials who were suspended for their handling of the Benghazi fiasco.
Harf explained that after reviewing the Accountability Review Board’s report on the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate and the “totality of [their] careers,” Kerry decided that the suspensions were “not warranted.”
“These are people with real lives, real careers," she said, responding to a question from a reporter. "And we can't just take action that's not warranted against them just to make us all feel better."
Harf was then asked who is responsible for the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods. Her answer was simple: the terrorists.
“The people who were ultimately responsible were the terrorists who perpetrated the attack on us,” she said, later admitting “things could have been done better.”
She added that the State Department is focused on “moving forward.”
The four officials will not return to their previous posts. Rather, they will be assigned to new positions within the department:
It has been more than 11 months since the deadly Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi and the Obama administration has yet to hold anyone responsible.
And CNN’s Jake Tapper is keeping tabs.
“Last fall it was only a matter of days after four Americans were killed in Benghazi before evidence appeared indicating that State Department officials paid insufficient attention to requests from diplomats and security personnel in Libya, desperately asking for additional security,” Tapper writes.
“Around that time then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put four State Department officials on administrative leave,” he adds. “Those four were invited back to work Tuesday, after Secretary of State John Kerry decided that they do not deserve any formal disciplinary action.”
A State Department spokesperson told CNN there “was no breach of duty” involving department officials.
What's notable about the move is that those decisions to not provide additional security personnel and assets in Libya, is one of the only parts of the Benghazi scandal that Obama administration officials will acknowledge was a real problem.
You can go back and forth on talking points, and whether U.S. military assets were in position to rescue the Americans being attacked in Benghazi. But the continual denials throughout 2011 and 2012 of additional security for Ambassador Chris Stevens and the others there – that part of Benghazi no one with any real knowledge or perspective on the tragedy can refute.
Watch the CNN report here:
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(H/T: WZ). Featured image Getty Images.