WaPo confirms: State Dept did nothing to address security concerns in Benghazi

posted at 2:01 pm on September 30, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Most of what the Washington Post reports today we already knew — the security at our consulate in Benghazi obviously didn’t meet even minimal standards, let alone the requirements of a diplomatic mission in an area where radical Islamist terrorist networks operate openly.  The results of the terrorist attack attest to that much.  The Post confirms, though, that the State Department never took those security concerns seriously, and implies that the late Ambassador Chris Stevens didn’t either:

On the eve of his death, U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was ebullient as he returned for the first time in his new role to Benghazi, the eastern Libyan city that embraced him as a savior during last year’s civil war. He moved around the coastal town in an armored vehicle and held a marathon of meetings, his handful of bodyguards trailing discreetly behind.

But as Stevens met with Benghazi civic leaders, U.S. officials appear to have underestimated the threat facing both the ambassador and other Americans. They had not reinforced the U.S. diplomatic outpost there to meet strict safety standards for government buildings overseas. Nor had they posted a U.S. Marine detachment, as at other diplomatic sites in high-threat regions.

A U.S. military team assigned to establish security at the new embassy in Tripoli, in a previously undisclosed detail, was never instructed to fortify the temporary hub in the east. Instead, a small local guard force was hired by a British private security firm as part of a contract worth less than half of what it costs to deploy a single U.S. service member in a war zone for a year.

The discovery of Stevens’ journal by CNN in the burnt-out consulate — which the FBI still has yet to visit — indicated that Stevens had become increasingly in fear of his life, and wrote that he’d been put on an al-Qaeda hit list. However, earlier incidents should have made clear that State needed to provide better security, and that the need was increasing:

The U.S. outpost had a close call of its own June 6, when a small roadside bomb detonated outside the walls, causing no injuries or significant damage. But the Americans stayed put.

Geoff Porter, a risk and security analyst who specializes in North Africa, said the sudden and stark shift from “predictable violence to terrorism” in the east over the summer was unmistakable.

“The U.S. intelligence apparatus must have had a sense the environment was shifting,” he said.

Ernesto Londono and Abigail Hauslohner report that his friends didn’t hear any complaints from Stevens, and that he was excited to be back in Benghazi.  However, their Libyan contacts tried to dissuade the Americans from any kind of public appearance, warning that security was deteriorating:

But if Stevens was deeply worried about deteriorating security, as CNN has reported he wrote in an entry in his journal, he kept quiet, said the Libyan friend who was with him the day before the attack.

“We didn’t talk about attacks,” the friend said. “He would have never come on the anniversary of September 11th if he had had any concerns.”

Three days before the attack, a U.S. official in Benghazi met with security leaders to ask them about the threat level, a senior Libyan official in the east said on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

The American did not disclose the ambassador’s visit.

“They told him, ‘Look, if there’s going to be any foreign presence [in the city], it better be discreet,’ ” the Libyan official said.

In other words, the State Department had plenty of indicators that the consulate in Benghazi was at high risk.  The British had pulled out of the city entirely due to the deteriorating conditions in eastern Libya.  Instead of bolstering security or moving diplomatic personnel back to the embassy in Tripoli, State did nothing — and sent Stevens into the city for a very public tour.  Ironically, the US now won’t send FBI investigators within 400 miles of Benghazi now for the investigation into the terrorist attack because of security concerns in the Benghazi region.

Most of this has already been known or assumed, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t note the confirmation of the incompetence that left four Americans dead and a diplomatic installation an open target for radical Islamist terrorists.

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The crime and the cover-up are shameful. Impeach.

Philly on September 30, 2012 at 3:20 PM

LOL..the GOP are pu$$ie$. Won’t ever happen. Issa gets derailed on a simple open and shut case for Fast and Furious. So much for the bombshell news, eh, Ed?


DevilsPrinciple on October 1, 2012 at 7:57 AM

Morrissey’s open schadenfreude is disgusting and, frankly, unpatriotic. It is not as if U.S. embassies and/or military bases in the Middle East have never been targeted before. There were incidents under Carter, Reagan, Clinton and Bush.

In this particular case, it seems Ambassador Stevens wanted as much unfiltered contact with the Libyans as possible. Having lots of experience in the Middle East, it seems Stevens underestimated the dangers and paid the ultimate price for it. It’s a tragedy, yes, but is this really worse than similar incidents in the past?

mlindroo on October 1, 2012 at 7:59 AM

That picture of Hillary is breathtakingly beautiful.

She should really consider doing a Penthouse shoot.

CorporatePiggy on October 1, 2012 at 8:12 AM

Obama and Clinton are like Josey Wales. Easy to track, they leave dead men wherever they go.

Bevan on October 1, 2012 at 8:28 AM

…that’s a picture of a goat…isn’t it?

KOOLAID2 on October 1, 2012 at 9:11 AM

The ability to simultaneously obfuscate and intimidate the media are tremendous tools for getting ahead in America.

Against poor, psychopaths with guns, not so much.

FineasFinn on October 1, 2012 at 9:13 AM

State, and by extension Obama, couldn’t care less. It doesn’t touch them, Obama still appears on Letterman & The View, life goes on. For them. Besides State understands the “aspirations ” of muslims, Obama certainly does.

arand on October 1, 2012 at 10:21 AM

If a British firm was given a contract to hire locals for security, isn’t that outsourcing? This whole thing was too coordinated. Send the guy there for 9-11 with no security to speak of, into an unsecure building just sounds like a political wag the dog set up by the empty chair’s campaign.

Kissmygrits on October 1, 2012 at 10:22 AM

…that’s a picture of a goat…isn’t it?

KOOLAID2 on October 1, 2012 at 9:11 AM

It’s a Joan Rivers-Goat hybrid.

CorporatePiggy on October 1, 2012 at 10:27 AM

No big deal.

It isn’t like it resulted in someone important getting murdered or something.


Gunlock Bill on October 1, 2012 at 10:31 AM

WaPo confirms: State Dept did nothing to address security concerns in Benghazi.

And the media will not address the story either.

hawkdriver on October 1, 2012 at 10:41 AM

…that’s a picture of a goat…isn’t it?

KOOLAID2 on October 1, 2012 at 9:11 AM

I was thinking 1930’s paper mache Halloween pumpkin, but a really hideous one.

roy_batty on October 1, 2012 at 11:13 AM

…that’s a picture of a goat…isn’t it?

KOOLAID2 on October 1, 2012 at 9:11 AM

I was thinking 1930′s paper mache Halloween pumpkin, but a really hideous one.

I still am thinking ’60’s troll doll, but that probably insults troll dolls.

hawkeye54 on October 1, 2012 at 11:22 AM

WaPo confirms: State Dept did nothing to address security concerns in Benghazi.

What concerns? I’m sure the WH was confident that little security was needed because the admin has been fully supportive the Libyan revolutionaries. In their minds no need to beef up security, ’cause that might be seen as inflammatory and insulting to the Obama admins muslim BFFs, no?

hawkeye54 on October 1, 2012 at 11:28 AM

“We didn’t talk about attacks,” the friend said. “He would have never come on the anniversary of September 11th if he had had any concerns.”

His puppet-masters in the WH and State Dept. gave him his marching orders.

Are all Americans so stupid as to believe that prevarication?

Karl Magnus on October 1, 2012 at 11:52 AM

Every time I come to the site this drunken Hillary photo creeps me out more and more. Let’s retire this one.

tommyboy on October 1, 2012 at 12:15 PM

I see the picture attached to this story, and I keep expecting her to start talking like Popeye.

Get that woman a corncob pipe!

Parabellum on October 1, 2012 at 12:45 PM

slickwillie2001 on September 30, 2012 at 8:26 PM

Ain’t enough tequila in all of Tijuana to help me get it up for that !

cableguy615 on October 1, 2012 at 8:56 PM

We seem to forget the four lives that were sacrificed and mumble and stammer about who’s fault the security lapse caused what they call, an embarrassment, really. In any other Administration heads would roll. it’s disgusting.

mixplix on October 1, 2012 at 10:17 PM

By law, the Secretary of State is expressly in charge of security conditions at all of our overseas diplomatic facilities, including at all of our embassies and consulates such as the consulate offices in Benghazi, Libya.

Just to illustrate the breadth of that line of responsibility, even the Marine Guards, who are stationed at many of our embassies, report through the Sec’y of State while they are assigned on that duty, and not through DOD.

It is a fact, however, that there were NO marines anywhere in the entire country of Libya at any of our diplomatic facilities at the time of the attack, including at our Embassy in Tripoli. Furthermore, the Sec’y of State was the person responsible for the fact that there were no Marines providing any diplomatic security at either location. The Marine “FAST” detachment that is currently in Libya was sent in after the attack was over. Horse, meet barn door!

Instead of installing good Marine security, Hillary Clinton had contracted out Libya security to a private British security firm, Blue Mountain Group. And Hillary’s spokesperson at the State Department, Victoria Nuland, initially even lied about that to the press until someone exposed the explicit details of the Blue Mountain contract, and she was asked again and had to admit the truth.

When CNN found the Ambassador’s short hand-written journal in the rubble THREE DAYS after the attack, and used his observations as a basis for a legitimate story about his personal security fears, a Hillary Clinton appointed State Department spokesperson, Phillipe REines went right over the edge, viciously attacked the station for invasion of his “privacy” — which it clearly was not — and subsequently calling another persistent reporter asking questions an “a**hole” and to “f*** off — in writing! Yet, it took Reines a week before he finally apologized. My, how diplomatic!

No matter what way you look at it, or what issue you are addressing, Hillary Clinton was the person most directly responsible for the range of foreign policy failures in Libya that resulted in the assassination of four Americans including the ambassador, a career foreign service officer, and two former active duty SEALs. Her reaction to the exposure of her abject failure has been markedly ill-tempered and dishonest.

The fact we now know in detail that she had failed to heed security warnings and intelligence, which inevitably led to these disasters, is but the icing on the cake.

Hillary Clinton should immediately resign in disgrace, or she should be fired. I simply have no idea why no major political figure is calling for her immediate ouster. And, in November Barack Obama should be fired by the American people because the buck should ultimately stop with him.

He hired both Clinton, Rice, and Clapper the Confessor.

These people are simply “nothing more, nothing less” than the latest iterations of the “San Francisco Democrats” who Jeanne Kirkpatrick spoke so contemptuously and so eloquently of, so long ago. A new generation of better informed Americans — better, that is than in 2008 — having witnessed the debacle these people have caused, simply need to stand up and call for the ouster of every single one of them.

Trochilus on October 2, 2012 at 12:05 AM

Stick a thermometer in Hillary but I think she’s done.

Sherman1864 on October 2, 2012 at 2:29 AM

Once upon a time, the press never bot slapped around with expletives, or even mildly harsh language. The American Media is demonstrating that they are indeed the PR wing of the democrat party. Otherwise, treatment like that would result in a firestorm of bad publicity for Dear Leader.

Parabellum on October 2, 2012 at 12:36 PM