Has the State Department learned nothing post-Benghazi?

Todd Keil, one of the experts who testified at the first Benghazi hearing [1] on Wednesday told the committee that the State Department has failed to follow through on proposals that would improve diplomatic security.

“Clear the smoke. Remove the mirrors,” said Keil. He later added, “Words and cursory actions by the Department of State ring hollow absent transparency and verifiable and sustainable actions to fully put into practice the letter and the intent of our recommendations.”

Wednesday’s hearing by the Benghazi Special committee, chaired by Rep. Trey Gowdy, focused on the State Department’s implementation of the Accountability Review Board’s (ARB) recommendations to improve security.

The committee was formed and given the go-ahead to investigate on the basis that sunlight is always the best disinfectant. If something goes wrong, the only way to make sure it doesn’t happen again is to clearly and publicly make changes.

Later, Chairman Gowdy pinned down [2] witness Gregory Starr, assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, about a pattern dating back to 1999 of the State Department not implementing recommendations from the ARB.  According to Starr, he has, throughout his career at State, heard every secretary talk about security. But as Gowdy pointed out, talking about security isn’t good enough.

It’s obvious there needs to be more accountability from the top down inside the State Department. Ultimately, actions matter and simply talking about security doesn’t protect lives. Hillary Clinton learned that the hard way in 2012. One would think that after losing four Americans in a gruesome terrorist attack, the department would have implemented some of the ARB changes by now. One would think.