CNN, in a self-congratulatory mood, announced that it returned the diary of murdered ambassador Chris Stevens to his family after finding it in the rubble of the Libyan embassy.

The full story is a little more unseemly. And a lot more important, because it goes to the heart of the Obama Administration’s feckless bungling of Mideast policy.

CNN staff apparently found the diary five days after the attack then held on to it for a week while it tried to decide what to do. While it did contact the family and arrange to have it sent to them, CNN apparently kept a copy and decided to “verify” a few things.

What there is to verify in a diary, which is by nature a work of private opinion, is anybody’s guess.

But during that time, CNN delayed reporting on the diary, promising the family that it wouldn’t report on the contents.

The whole problem for CNN centered around those contents of the diary and the network’s obvious status as part of the Obama booster club. The network, like most of the mainstream media, has made it its No. 1 priority to get Obama re-elected.

Better late than never, perhaps, even if CNN buried the lede.

According to CNN, the diary and information from people who knew Stevens indicate the ambassador was worried about the lax security in Benghazi and the growth of Muslim extremism in the area.

Although the entire story about the handling of the diary is unseemly, CNN to its credit has at least begun asking why the State Department did not protect its personnel when it had clear warning of trouble?

The question should have been asked from the first day of the attacks. But with King Obama expected to apologize to the U.N. for the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims,” and Mohammed Morsi trying to dictate the future of U.S.-Mideast relations, asking the question about Obama policies now may prove damaging at last to this Administration’s neverending lie about the cause of the wave of Muslim violence.

The State Department is hopping mad that CNN reported on the diary, which can be taken as a sign that CNN finally did something right, even if it lost its seat at the Obama dinner party.