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Politics

Four suspended from State Department after Benghazi

A top US State Department official, Eric Boswell, has submitted his resignation while three others were suspended on Wednesday. This follows a damning review of security practices at a US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Assistant Secretary Eric Boswell, the head of the bureau of diplomatic security, resigned on Wednesday after a critical report into the September 11, 2012 attack on the consulate in Benghazi - with the US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, among the dead.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that the Accountability Review Board (ARB) had identified four people in its report, all of whom were suspended from duty.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "has accepted Eric Boswell's decision to resign as assistant secretary for diplomatic security, effective immediately," Nuland said in a statement. "The other three individuals have been relieved of their current duties. All four individuals have been placed on administrative leave pending further action."

The critical ARB report into the attack on the Benghazi consulate in eastern Libya was published on Tuesday, with Clinton accepting all 29 recommendations it made. The paper labeled the security at the Benghazi consulate in particular as "grossly inadequate."

Nuland did not identify the other three employees citing personnel policies.

The aftermath of the attack on the consulate is already seen as the reason for Susan Rice, currently the US ambassador to the UN, to abandon her bid to succeed Clinton as Secretary of State. Rice said after the attack that it appeared to be the upshot of public protests against a defamatory film on Islam - with subsequent investigations pointing instead to a pre-meditated attack by a group with alleged ties to al Qaeda.

The incident coincided with widespread protests, often focused on US diplomatic buildings, over a privately-made film both depicting and criticizing the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.

Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other State Department staffers were killed in the attack.

msh/ccp (AFP, dpa, Reuters)