Former US envoy Thomas Pickering says that there was massive uncertainty during the entire handling of the Benghazi mission, including the personnel deployment, security upgrades and the overall attitude towards the incident.
Speaking in an interview, the former head of the Accountability Review Board (ARB) on the Sept. 11 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, gave some insight into what really happened after the news of the attack reached the White House.
Pickering said that the State Department formed a task force immediately and added diplomatic security and funds to tackle the crisis.
"They had found things that needed to be fixed and that the three major programs they were putting in place were designed to immediately find answers to those problems," he said.
The report released by the ARB in December, recommended that four State Department officials immediately step down from their jobs. Pickering said that he believes all of their recommendations were fully carried out.
However, Pickering added that he was surprised by the frequent personnel and security changes in the handling of the Libya crisis. He pointed that nearly all of the officials appointed experienced a rotation after less than 30 days.
"Getting on top of your job in a difficult situation obviously takes more than 30 days," he said. "And so these really good officers were disadvantaged by the fact that they had no memory beyond 30 days of what was going on and what had happened except what their predecessors left them."
Pickering also noted that the general attitude towards the security incidents between April and September against various foreign officials in Libya, were seen as unrelated to each other when they should have been perceived as a growing security threat.
"Each individual incident was examined and dismissed on the basis of one, it didn't involve the US or if it involved the US it was one-off, or that because it involved the US and it was one-off it was only because a disgruntled employee may have been involved," Pickering said.
Pickering said he was also worried about the security upgrades and second guessing at a time when no more risks could be taken. Also, priority was not given specifically to Benghazi, where the attack took place; instead, all of Libya was being taken into consideration.
The report did not mention who was responsible for the attacks, since accessing that area came under the FBI.