Benghazi Deaths: Report Finds Woeful Security

Benghazi Deaths: Report Finds Woeful Security

A Congressional report on the Benghazi attack has been highly critical of the handling of security at the US consulate.

The document, produced by the Senate homeland security committee and released to media ahead of publication, faults the State Department for failing to adequately respond to mounting security threats in the lead-up to the assault.

On September 11, the anniversary of the 2001 attacks by al Qaeda on New York and Washington, heavily-armed militants stormed the US mission in the eastern Libyan city.

Four Americans died in the assault, including US ambassador Chris Stevens.

The report says the facility was woefully under-protected despite a "large amount of evidence" that Benghazi was "increasingly dangerous and unstable," with an attack on Americans becoming "much more likely".

"While this intelligence was effectively shared within the Intelligence Community and with key officials at the Department of State, it did not lead to a commensurate increase in security at Benghazi nor to a decision to close the American mission there, either of which would have been more than justified by the intelligence presented," the report said.

Ahead of publication, Senator Susan Collins, the ranking Republican member, said in a statement: "Terrorists essentially walked right into the Benghazi compound unimpeded and set it ablaze, due to extremely poor security in a threat environment that was 'flashing red' in the words of a high-ranking official."

Republicans have attacked the Obama administration's handling of both security prior to the attack and public statements afterwards.

President Barack Obama admitted on Sunday that there was a "huge problem" with security procedures ahead of the deadly assault.

"We're not going to be defensive about it," Mr Obama said in an interview on NBC's Meet the Press.

"We're not going to pretend that this was not a problem. This was a huge problem," he said.

Mr Obama said all of the recommendations of a critical report into the State Department's operation in Benghazi would be implemented, and said US agents were hunting down those responsible for the killings.

President Obama also defended UN ambassador Susan Rice, who was accused by Republican lawmakers of misleading the public when she said the attack was a spontaneous protest against an anti-Muslim film made privately in the United States.

Ms Rice had been considered the front-runner to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as America's top diplomat, but she dropped out of the running after becoming the focus of Republican attacks.

The Congressional report concluded officials in the State Department and the intelligence community were "inconsistent" in blaming the deaths on a terrorist attack.