At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) pushed State Department officials for additional answers on the deadly attacks that took the lives of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya. In the wake of a new report by the Accountability Review Board, Shaheen questioned William Burns, Deputy Secretary of State, and Thomas Nides, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, on how the United States could learn from the mistakes in Benghazi to protect against future threats.
"The report was very direct and very honest about pointing out that mistakes were made in the lead-up to the attacks," Shaheen said. "Hopefully now as a result of the report we can make the appropriate changes and follow up on the lessons we learned to reduce the risk of tragedies like this happening again. We need to do better."
During the hearing, Shaheen inquired into the availability and response time of military assets to ensure that necessary protections were in place to prevent future attacks. She specifically questioned witnesses on the designation of "high-risk" areas that have been identified as potential targets, calling for information on the steps being taken to provide protection at these sites.
In response, Deputy Secretary Nides cited the cooperation between the State Department and the Department of Defense in developing criteria to identify possible threats and to better assess the larger security environment. Nides detailed the process of developing a threat assessment, which includes analysis from security experts of a site, a study of the ability of the host government to provide protection and a determination of the level of resources needed for protection. Deputy Burns also indicated that planning had begun to improve the responsiveness of military assets to ensure a timely response to threats.
In addition to today's public hearing, Senator Shaheen joined all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a letter on September 27 to Deputy Secretary Nides requesting additional information and briefings on the Benghazi attacks. She has attended three classified briefings on the Benghazi attacks and the findings of the Accountability Review Board report.