The FBI says its investigation of the attack, which killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, remains open and ongoing, but reports no substantive progress. Some congressional Republicans say they are still convinced of an administration conspiracy to withhold information about it and prevent survivors from talking.
Secretary of State John F. Kerry, whose budget testimony Wednesday will mark his first appearance before Congress since taking office, plans to tell lawmakers that the department has taken action on all 24 recommendations made by an independent board that reviewed the Benghazi incident, a senior administration official said.
But the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity before Kerry’s public statement, drew a distinction between those matters that have been resolved and those on which implementation has barely begun.
“Some take some time to accomplish,” the official said.
Assessment teams that traveled the world after Benghazi have taken some embassies off a list of 19 posts previously designated “high-risk,” and they have added new ones. Of 285 embassies and consulates, those deemed high-risk now number in the 20s.
The senior official said the new listings were primarily in Africa and the Middle East, but declined to identify them, adding: “We don’t want a blueprint saying here are the places the State Department is most worried about.”
Internal actions already taken include appointment of a new deputy assistant secretary for high-threat posts, whose job is to keep track of the sort of threats that eluded senior officials before the Benghazi attack.
The head of the department’s diplomatic security service resigned amid criticism after the attack in Benghazi. Gregory B. Starr, a former senior security official, was brought back from a job at the United Nations to serve as acting director.
Roving security teams will regularly visit diplomatic posts for security and technology updates, and tours of duty for permanent and temporary security staff members in high-threat posts have been extended to allow for more in-country familiarity.
Anything that required “signing a piece of paper, and it’s done,” the official said, has been accomplished. Recommendations that require money, agreements with other government departments or additional personnel, however, have been more complicated to implement.
Even improvements in fire safety — recommended by previous security reviews over the past decades — remain a work in progress. Stevens, who took refuge in a safe room in Benghazi, died of smoke inhalation after attacking terrorists set the compound ablaze.