Ed flagged ABC’s story on this earlier today but I want you to watch the clip, as you’ll be seeing this guy again soon in front of Darrell Issa’s House Oversight Committee. Meet Lt. Col. Andy Wood, who until August was stationed in Tripoli as leader of a Special Forces “Site Security Team” at the embassy. Why didn’t he stick around until September at least, given that (a) the anniversary of 9/11 was impending and (b) according to basically everyone, Libya was becoming more dangerous? Don’t worry, State has an explanation:
One State Department source tells CBS News the security teams weren’t “pulled,” that their mission was simply over.
State Department officials have told CBS News that Wood was not part of the security assessment in Benghazi and that his assignment to Tripoli means he was unfamiliar with the local situation in the smaller port city in the country’s east.
Wood, however, says some of the members of his own team and additional personnel from the State Department’s elite security detail – the two teams which left Libya in August – would have traveled to Benghazi with Ambassador Stevens had they still been in the country. He did not say how many additional security agents might have been deployed for the Ambassador’s trip to the city, which is at least 400 miles east of Tripoli, but he tells Attkisson that he’s wondered if it might have made a difference on the night of the attack.
Remember, State also declined to intervene when local contractors tried to bring in a team of Americans to beef up security in Benghazi. For some strange reason, despite the obvious jihadist presence in eastern Libya and multiple warnings from different sources that they needed better protection, State seems to have resisted calls for a more robust security presence at every turn. That’s job one for Issa on Thursday. The “spontaneous protest” cover up is important too, but the CIA’s intelligence failure in detecting the attack and the White House’s security failure in not protecting Stevens are top priority.
And if there’s any time left over after those topics, maybe we can get an answer on the foot-dragging in investigating the scene of the attack:
The delay securing the site in Benghazi exposed more rifts within the administration. Senior U.S. officials said the State Department’s preference was to first try to reach a deal with the Libyans to provide the security. Talks with the Libyans dragged on, stoking frustration within the FBI and Justice Department. It wasn’t until late last week that the FBI and the State Department agreed to formally ask Pentagon officials to come up with a plan to secure the site.
White House National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and counterterrorism adviser John Brennan intervened on Sept. 28 to break the impasse between the agencies, according to a senior administration official.
A senior U.S. official critical of the White House’s handling of the matter said the White House exercised too little control as the efforts to get the FBI to Benghazi dragged on. “Where was the White House coordination?” another senior U.S. official critical of the response asked.
Before, during, and even after the attack, the White House blew every opportunity to act effectively. Obama has one chance left to get something right.