Did the State Department refuse to intervene in Benghazi security dispute?

posted at 2:01 pm on October 3, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

According to new information reported by Fox News, the State Department had ample warning about the deteriorating security conditions in Benghazi, from the people who knew it best — the security team it hired for the job.  The guards in Benghazi wanted their British parent company to increase staff and bolster protection of the consulate after a series of attacks and attempts in the city had them deeply worried about their own safety.  When that resulted in a dispute, the security team turned to the State Department, which appears to have washed its hands of the matter, according to the letters that Fox has received:

Letters obtained exclusively by Fox News appear to show the State Department refused to get involved when the company tasked with protecting the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, raised security concerns, the latest indication that warning signs may have been ignored in the lead-up to last month’s terror attack.

The letters pertain to a dispute between Blue Mountain Libya, the security license holder in Libya, and its operations partner Blue Mountain UK, which trained and provided the local guards.

A source with knowledge of two State Department meetings — one in June and a second in July — told Fox News that Blue Mountain Libya felt the security provided by the UK partner was “substandard and the situation was unworkable.”

But according to the source, when the Libyans tried to bring in a third party — an American contractor — to improve security, a State Department contract officer declined to get involved.

“The U.S. government is not required to mediate any disagreements between the two parties of the Blue Mountain Libya partnership,” contracting officer Jan Visintainer wrote on July 10 to Blue Mountain Libya, adding that to date “contract performance is satisfactory.”

Presumably, this is one of the requests for more resources to which Darrell Issa referred in his letter yesterday to Hillary Clinton.  This exchange indicates that State had at least been informed that the consulate considered its security inadequate and needed help in addressing the situation.  The dismissive tone of the reply gives a strong impression that State didn’t want to know of any problems in Benghazi.

This is pretty curious, even without the catastrophic and deadly aftermath.  Why wouldn’t State intervene in a dispute over consular security, especially in an area as dangerous — and known to be dangerous — as Benghazi?  If the security team on the ground reported that the protection was inadequate, shouldn’t that have raised a red flag at Foggy Bottom?   Are requests for more security so routine that we have a boy-who-cried-wolf dynamic at State, and if so, has anyone done a systematic analysis of security arrangements worldwide?

Finally, if this is part of Issa’s evidence on hand, this leak might be an answer to Hillary Clinton’s attempt to delay the House probe into Benghazi.  A few more drip drip drip releases, and Hillary might want to expedite the disclosures in order to control them.


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