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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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August 20th, 2013
05:35 PM ET

Analysis: No one is being held responsible for Benghazi

By Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper

As of Tuesday, it became official – the Obama administration is holding no one responsible for what happened during the deadly attacks on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya.

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.

Around that time then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put four State Department officials on administrative leave. 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 official told CNN that there was no breach of duty for these officials, and that they are not returning to their previous posts

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.

How bad was it? Recall the testimony of the former regional security officer in Libya, Eric Nordstrom, who left his post less than two months before the attack, describing how State Department officials continually shot down his requests for additional security.

"You know what makes most frustrating about this assignment? It is not the hardships, it is not the gunfire, it is not the threats. It is dealing and fighting against the people, programs and personnel who are supposed to be supporting me ... For me the Taliban is on the inside of the building," Nordstrom testified last October.

That's the regional security officer in Libya describing State Department officials as the Taliban.

The independent review of what happened in Benghazi noted that security was "grossly inadequate," and faulted "systemic failures, and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels," though it was not established that anyone "breached his or her duty."

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