Loved ones of the local victims killed in attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi are feeling mixed emotions after a scathing report was released about what happened that day in Libya.
The independent review found that “systematic failures” at the State Department led to "grossly" inadequate security at the mission in Benghazi. Three top State Department officials resigned just hours after the review was released.
Four Americans were killed in the September 11, 2012, attack: U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three men from San Diego, information specialist Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone “Ty” Woods.
Smith was from Clairemont. Doherty, of Encinitas, and Woods, of Imperial Beach, were contractors working for the CIA in Libya.
The State Department says changes were underway before the report was finished, and calls Benghazi a painful learning experience.
"The security posture at the special mission compound was inadequate for the threat environment in Benghazi and in fact grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place that night,” said Admiral Mike Mullen.
On Thursday, Congress will hold public hearing on the report and State Department officials are expected to be grilled on what went wrong and what’s being done to make American diplomats safer.
In San Diego – especially among the local victims’ loved ones – reaction to the report is mixed. For some, there is a feeling of hope that the report could bring change. For others, there is a feeling of skepticism about the truth behind the report. And, for one local mother, there is continued anger that will never go away – no matter what.
Former Navy SEAL Lance Cummings knew both Woods and Doherty. He was close friends with Doherty and even wears a bracelet with Doherty’s name on it in his memory.
“I’m glad the report is out,” Cummings told NBC 7 San Diego on Wednesday. “I’m glad they initiated the report.”
“I do feel that unless these recommendations are put into practical application, that the report is just that, it's just paper,” Cummings added.
One specific recommendation on the report: for Congress to fully fund and support State Department security needs. The report finds that budget constraints resulted in inadequate security before and on the day of the attack.
“I don't think with the resources we have that finances should ever be the limitation to security, especially in a country like Libya, where we know all of our personnel there are at risk on a day to day basis,” said Cummings.
He also agreed with another recommendation to increase the number of Marine guards stationed at embassies and consulates around the world – a recommendation already being enacted.
But Cummings said it’s not just about the numbers.
“If they are constrained by the rules of engagement, it doesn’t matter how many people you have out there. They’ve got to have the control and power they need to do the job,” he said.
Four lives were lost because of failures at the top, according to the report. However, Cummings hopes they did not die in vain.
“Their lives should go toward a better cause; people should learn from their experience and we should never have to experience that again.”