Issa to Hillary: Why did State refuse requests to bolster Benghazi security?

posted at 12:01 pm on October 2, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

The Right Scoop calls this a “bombshell,” which may underestimate the impact of the question posed by House Oversight Chair Darrell Issa to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  Despite the CNN discovery of the late Ambassador Chris Stevens’ journal in which Stevens outlined his fears of terrorist attacks, the Obama administration has told the media that Stevens didn’t push those security issues with the State Department.  According to the letter Issa sent today to Clinton, that may be yet another untruth pushed by the White House:

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee leaders today sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking why requests for more protection were denied to the U.S. mission in Libya by Washington officials prior to the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. The denials came after repeated attacks and security threats to U.S. personnel.

“Based on information provided to the Committee by individuals with direct knowledge of events in Libya, the attack that claimed the ambassador’s life was the latest in a long line of attacks on Western diplomats and officials in Libya in the months leading up to September 11, 2012. It was clearly never, as Administration officials once insisted, the result of a popular protest,” the committee’s chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and subcommittee chairman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, write. “In addition, multiple U.S. federal government officials have confirmed to the Committee that, prior to the September 11 attack, the U.S. mission in Libya made repeated requests for increased security in Benghazi. The mission in Libya, however, was denied these resources by officials in Washington.”

The letter outlines 13 security threats over the six months prior to the attack.

“Put together, these events indicated a clear pattern of security threats that could only be reasonably interpreted to justify increased security for U.S. personnel and facilities in Benghazi,” the chairmen write.

It was just two days ago that the Washington Post reported that Stevens didn’t seem concerned about security, despite what Stevens wrote in his own journal:

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.”

According to Issa’s sources, though, the US embassy in Libya had become very worried about security — and for good reason.  Far from just one or two attacks in the months prior to the sacking of the consulate in Benghazi that have been reported by the media, Issa outlines a string of incidents starting in April that demonstrated a deterioration in the security situation in Libya, and particularly in Benghazi.  They include RPG attacks on a Red Cross office one kilometer from the American consulate, harassment of American diplomatic personnel by militia, the abduction and beating of the deputy commander of the local Libyan security force for the US Embassy in Tripoli, the attempted carjacking of a vehicle with American diplomatic plates, and more.

Furthermore, terrorists had posted pictures of Ambassador Stevens going for a routine morning jog and threatening to abduct or kill him.  The Libyan security guards in the Benghazi consulate had been receiving warnings for weeks before the attack to quit, as an attack was planned for the facility.  According to Issa, the embassy asked for heightened security for their diplomatic missions — and got nothing but static in response.

Issa wants a hearing on this matter on October 10th.  Don’t be surprised if Hillary stonewalls for at least another four weeks.

Update: The US has pulled all of its personnel out of Benghazi now – which means there won’t be an FBI investigation of the “crime scene”:

The Obama administration has withdrawn all official government personnel from Benghazi, the Libyan city where the country’s revolution was born and where the U.S. ambassador was killed last month, U.S. officials and local residents said Monday.

The State Department said that it has pulled its personnel from Benghazi and that any diplomatic outreach to Libya’s second-largest city is being done remotely. The U.S. post where Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died in an attack by militants has been closed.

The Atlantic Wire says so much for the FBI probe:

The State Department has officially removed all government personnel from the Libyan city of Benghazi, closing the consulate building and possibly ending any chance of an on-site investigation of the attack there.

Does this mean the White House will start giving some straight answers?  Don’t hold your breath.


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