State Department Official Resigns in Wake of Blackwater Criticism

The assistant secretary of state, who oversaw diplomatic security, submitted his resignation in the wake of a report critical of his handling of Blackwater security contractors, according to State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

Ambassador Richard Griffin told his staff earlier today he would be submitting his resignation to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"Secretary Rice is grateful to Ambassador Griffin for his record of long exemplary service to the nation," McCormack said. "He has distinguished himself during a 36-year career with the U.S. government, serving in some of the most sensitive and demanding posts."


Griffin's resignation follows the release yesterday of a State Department review that found serious problems with the operations of the Diplomatic Security Service, which Griffin oversaw, including lax oversight of private security contractors, including Blackwater USA.

The review panel found the Diplomatic Security Service did not have enough agents and needed better Arabic language skills and cultural awareness.

The panel was appointed by Secretary Rice to review "the State Department's handling of security practices in Iraq," following a Sept. 16, 2007 incident involving Blackwater security guards in which 17 Iraqi civilians died.

The panel's key finding states "prompt measures should be taken to strengthen the coordination, oversight and accountability aspects of the State Department's security practices in Iraq in order to reduce the likelihood that future incidents will occur that adversely affect the overall U.S. mission in Iraq," the panel of outside experts concluded. 

Earlier this month, Griffin faced tough questions from House Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., about State Department failures to investigate shootings of Iraqi civilians by Blackwater security guards.

This post has been updated.

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