Murdered ambassador sent cable warning of threats on day of Benghazi attack

posted at 8:41 am on October 8, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

A number of media sources have fresh looks at the Obama administration’s handling of security in the weeks before the terrorist attack on our consulate in Benghazi drove us out of eastern Libya and killed four Americans, including US Ambassador J. Christopher Stephens.  First, Fox News reported yesterday that the State Department decided to stick to its schedule of rotating out a 16-man Special Ops team assigned to diplomatic security in Benghazi, just weeks before the attack in August.  They were joined in their exit by a six-man security team from the State Department itself:

ABC News follows this up with a report this morning that Stevens himself wanted the special forces team to stay in Libya, but apparently were overruled:

U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens wanted a Security Support Team, made up of 16 special operations soldiers, to stay with him in Libya after their deployment was scheduled to end in August, the commander of that security team told ABC News.

The embassy staff’s “first choice was for us to stay,” Lt. Col. Andrew Wood, 55, told ABC News in an interview. “That would have been the choice of the embassy people in Tripoli.” …

Asked for comment to the memo and Wood’s comments, a spokesman for the House Oversight Committee told ABC News: “Diplomats working in Libya viewed security provided by highly trained Americans as critical to their safety and mission. The Oversight Committee’s investigation continues to seek answers about why — even as threats against Americans increased — senior State Department officials erroneously decided such security was no longer needed.”

Investigators are exploring whether anyone at the State Department told the Embassy specifically not to request another extension.

The State Department responded this morning by claiming that Stevens had requested a specific level of security which matched what he already had.  However, Eli Lake’s report from the Daily Beast today underscores just how fragile those security arrangements were.  Thanks to Obama administration efforts in Libya, Stevens sent a cable the morning of the attack warning State that their support of a Libyan candidate for Prime Minister threatened to alienate the militias that protected the Benghazi consulate:

Just two days before the 9/11 anniversary attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, two leaders of the Libyan militias responsible for keeping order in the city threatened to withdraw their men.

The brinksmanship is detailed in a cable approved by Ambassador Chris Stevens and sent on the day he died in the attack, the worst assault on a U.S. diplomatic mission since the 1979 hostage crisis in Iran. The dispatch, which was marked “sensitive” but not “classified,” contained a number of other updates on the chaotic situation on the ground in post-Gaddafi Libya.

The cable, reviewed by The Daily Beast, recounts how the two militia leaders, Wissam bin Ahmed and Muhammad al-Gharabi, accused the United States of supporting Mahmoud Jibril, the head of the Libyan transitional government, to be the country’s first elected prime minister. Jibril’s centrist National Forces Alliance won the popular vote in Libyan elections in July, but he lost the prime minister vote in the country’s Parliament on Sept. 12 by 94 to 92. Had he won, bin Ahmed and al-Gharabi warned they “would not continue to guarantee security in Benghazi, a critical function they asserted they were currently providing,” the cable reads. The man who beat Jibril, Mustafa Abushagur, lost a vote of no-confidence Sunday, throwing Libyan politics back into further uncertainty.

The threat from the militias underscores the dangers of relying on local Libyan forces for security in the run-up to the 9/11 military-style assault. The U.S. consulate in Benghazi employed a militia called the “February 17 Martyrs Brigade” for security of the four-building compound. In addition, there were five Americans serving as diplomatic security and a group of former special operations forces that acted as a quick reaction force on the day of the 9/11 attack. Members of the militias led by bin-Ahmed and al-Gharabi overlapped with the February 17 militia, the cable says.

Lake notes that the overall tone of the cable was positive about improving security in Libya.  However, it’s also rather interesting that the cable makes no mention at all of the 14-minute YouTube video that the White House insisted for more than a week was the reason for the assault on the consulate.    Instead, Stevens notified Washington of a rise in Islamist forces in the region, including morality brigades enforcing sharia law at the local university.  Less than 24 hours later, Stevens would be murdered while the militias turned out to be ineffective at best in the coordinated terrorist attack on the consulate.

The House Oversight Committee hearing on the attack begins on Wednesday.  Will the White House story change yet again between then and now?


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…the MSM is not interested.

KOOLAID2 on October 8, 2012 at 8:45 AM

…bump in the road

KOOLAID2 on October 8, 2012 at 8:46 AM

First, Fox News reported yesterday that the State Department decided to stick to its schedule of rotating out a 16-man Special Ops team assigned to diplomatic security in Benghazi, just weeks before the attack in August. They were joined in their exit by a six-man security team from the State Department itself:

If this were chess, the King was in the middle of the board and all of the knights/pawns around him were removed.

Thanks to Obama administration efforts in Libya, Stevens sent a cable the morning of the attack warning State that their support of a Libyan candidate for Prime Minister threatened to alienate the militias that protected the Benghazi consulate:

then they kicked the hornet’s nest.

Smart Power.

ted c on October 8, 2012 at 8:46 AM

…we apologize

KOOLAID2 on October 8, 2012 at 8:47 AM

However, it’s also rather interesting that the cable makes no mention at all of the 14-minute YouTube video that the White House insisted for more than a week was the reason for the assault on the consulate.

the truth is a stranger to this White House. There are only favorable narratives…..

ted c on October 8, 2012 at 8:48 AM

What is Gods name were they thinking?

ctmom on October 8, 2012 at 8:48 AM

But Mitt Romney wants to stop the middle class taxpayer subsidies of a multi-millionaire fat cat known as Big Bird.

forest on October 8, 2012 at 8:48 AM

Cripe

Absolutely shameful what obama state department has become

Nothing to see here
- the rest of the lsm

cmsinaz on October 8, 2012 at 8:49 AM

Lady parts! Lady parts!!!

Bruce MacMahon on October 8, 2012 at 8:50 AM

The MSM is ignoring almost all Benghazi terrorist attack news. Unless the NYT thinks its important, almost no one else in the MSM will.

farsighted on October 8, 2012 at 8:50 AM

This is going to be a very bad week for Obama. The Benghazi coverup will get new life when the hearings start on Wednesday. Paul Ryan will eviscerate Bite Me the day after. And it’s possible as soon as today that the donor scandal story will break.

Doughboy on October 8, 2012 at 8:50 AM

So sorry, Mr. Ambassador…. it’s 3 AM here and the prez-o-dense is busy on the other line with Hillary Clintoon.

viking01 on October 8, 2012 at 8:52 AM

The House Oversight Committee hearing on the attack begins on Wednesday. Will the White House story change yet again between then and now?

Yes

southernms on October 8, 2012 at 8:52 AM

What is Gods name were they thinking?

ctmom on October 8, 2012 at 8:48 AM

The cynic in me wonders if the removal of the 16 man team, the stripping of the State Dept detail, the refusal to bolster security after repeated requests, then the coup de grace of supporting the wrong candidate was an offering to the Arab world of our ambassador. It is one thing to incompetently defend a consulate, while it is another to willfully strip it of a defense and place a valuable asset and intelligence material in there for Al Qaeda to run rickshod over it.

say it ain’t so.

A chinook full of Seal Team 6 that got shot down wonders the same thing.

ted c on October 8, 2012 at 8:52 AM

Why does the Obama administration hate gay Libyan ambassadors so much?

eyedoc on October 8, 2012 at 8:53 AM

They withdrew the security teams because they knew it was dangerous and they didn’t want them to get hurt.

NotCoach on October 8, 2012 at 8:53 AM

Benghazi meets Black Hawk Down.

viking01 on October 8, 2012 at 8:54 AM

This is going to be a very bad week for Obama

No worries. He’s already pumped his self-esteem by hobnobbing with Hollywood. Life is good!

socalcon on October 8, 2012 at 8:55 AM

Thanks to Obama administration efforts in Libya, Stevens sent a cable the morning of the attack warning State that their support of a Libyan candidate for Prime Minister threatened to alienate the militias that protected the Benghazi consulate:

Yep, sure it was the video./sarc

susietwo on October 8, 2012 at 8:56 AM

Ruh-Roh…..this one might hurt him. Absolutely unbelievable.

hoosierma on October 8, 2012 at 8:56 AM

Stevens sent a cable the morning of the attack warning State that their support of a Libyan candidate for Prime Minister threatened to alienate the militias that protected the Benghazi consulate

Withdraw your own security and antagonize the locals who you rely on then for security?
We’ve had a diplomatic corp for over two hundred years, this is beyond mere incompetence.

rbj on October 8, 2012 at 8:57 AM

Doughboy on October 8, 2012 at 8:50 AM

Fox just ran a good report on the donor story.

docflash on October 8, 2012 at 8:57 AM

Great, the last superpower is relying on Wissam bin Ahmed and Muhammad al-Gharabi for the security of our diplomats.
Wow just wow…..

ouldbollix on October 8, 2012 at 8:58 AM

…bump in the road

KOOLAID2 on October 8, 2012 at 8:46 AM

Those are landmines..

By the way…
I hear that Obama is crediting himself for ending the war in Iraq.
What a trooper he is..

Electrongod on October 8, 2012 at 8:59 AM

The white house formula on security for Americans:

US consulate security=(1/Number of Al Qaeda in region)

ted c on October 8, 2012 at 8:59 AM

Fox just ran a good report on the donor story.

docflash on October 8, 2012 at 8:57 AM

Has the story officially broken yet? Or was Fox teasing at it?

Doughboy on October 8, 2012 at 9:01 AM

Benghazi meets Black Hawk Down.

viking01 on October 8, 2012 at 8:54 AM

the difference between Mogadishu and Benghazi is that we actually had Black Hawks in the area that could go down……. It was obviously terrible that they did, but at least they were there.

ted c on October 8, 2012 at 9:01 AM

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Mitt Romney on Monday will accuse the Obama administration of fundamentally misunderstanding the threat of radical Islam, using a major foreign-policy speech at the Virginia Military Institute to say President Obama is rejecting six decades of bipartisan consensus by not flexing more U.S. muscle on the world stage.

And after delaying for nearly a month, the Republican presidential nominee will sharpen his attack about the way Mr. Obama handled the assault on American diplomatic posts in Egypt and Libya.

Read more: Romney 
to slam 
Obama 
on warfare – Washington Times http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/oct/8/romney-to-slam-obama-on-warfare/#ixzz28iDc2HeE
Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

ted c on October 8, 2012 at 9:03 AM

“Hello. Thanks for calling the White house. Our normal business hours are 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM or so. Please call back during normal business hours or leave a message after the beep.”

Akzed on October 8, 2012 at 9:04 AM

slightly OT; Obama speaking at an LA fundraiser. He praised actors for performing flawlessly night after night, something that he couldn’t say for himself. Funny that the self deprecating line drew a lot of applause. When you have to parody yourself to drum up some support, you just might be in big trouble.

ted c on October 8, 2012 at 9:05 AM

Uh Oh

gophergirl on October 8, 2012 at 9:05 AM

ted c on October 8, 2012 at 9:01 AM

Agreed we actually had a presence in Somalia though I’m expecting Zero and his lapdog media, after the fact, to find another Les Aspin fall guy diversion to excuse Zerobama. I doubt sHrillary has any plans to let that be herself.

viking01 on October 8, 2012 at 9:07 AM

Fox News reported yesterday that the State Department decided to stick to its schedule of rotating out a 16-man Special Ops team assigned to diplomatic security in Benghazi, just weeks before the attack in August. They were joined in their exit by a six-man security team from the State Department itself

The Empty Chair wrongly thought that the same could provide security for a consulate. Once again, Obama overestimates himself.

ted c on October 8, 2012 at 9:08 AM

Benghazi Security: Obama, you didn’t build that.

FiveG on October 8, 2012 at 9:09 AM

viking01 on October 8, 2012 at 9:07 AM

you’re right. Aspin was gone w/n 2-3 mos after Mogadishu, now 19 years ago this month. I suspect that Susan Rice was the fall gal for Hillary as she n’ Billy Jeff probably had a chat regarding how to handle the debacle.

ted c on October 8, 2012 at 9:10 AM

Has the story officially broken yet? Or was Fox teasing at it?

Doughboy on October 8, 2012 at 9:01 AM

It’s on the daily caller.

gophergirl on October 8, 2012 at 9:11 AM

The only thing that Obama excels at is destruction. Killing pirates, jihadis, Osama Bin Laden, unborn babies, drone strikes, Mexicans, Border Agents etc. etc. He’s very good at seeing to it that people end up dead.

ted c on October 8, 2012 at 9:12 AM

Benghazi meets Black Hawk Down.

viking01 on October 8, 2012 at 8:54 AM

the difference between Mogadishu and Benghazi is that we actually had Black Hawks in the area that could go down……. It was obviously terrible that they did, but at least they were there.

ted c on October 8, 2012 at 9:01 AM

True, but there is some parallel.

SoD Les Aspin denied a military request for armored vehicles in Mogadishu. We ended up using Pakistani armored vehicles in the rescue.

Aspin’s decision to not provide what was deemed necessary for the security of Americans in harm’s way cost American lives.

farsighted on October 8, 2012 at 9:14 AM

Bumps in the road, thats all. Move along.

Philly on October 8, 2012 at 9:14 AM

Ignore this lets focus on mitts speech and trash it beforehand
-lsm

cmsinaz on October 8, 2012 at 9:15 AM

If nothing else, this should herald the end of the Hillary 2016 buzz.

What a fiasco.

Robert_Paulson on October 8, 2012 at 9:16 AM

ted c on October 8, 2012 at 9:10 AM

You beat me to it.

farsighted on October 8, 2012 at 9:16 AM

Impeach and convict

Philly on October 8, 2012 at 9:16 AM

If this were chess, the King was in the middle of the board and all of the knights/pawns around him were removed.

then they kicked the hornet’s nest.

Smart Power.

ted c on October 8, 2012 at 8:46 AM

Obama is more of a “checkers” type of president

Ditkaca on October 8, 2012 at 9:17 AM

SoD Les Aspin denied a military request for armored vehicles in Mogadishu. We ended up using Pakistani armored vehicles in the rescue.

Aspin’s decision to not provide what was deemed necessary for the security of Americans in harm’s way cost American lives.

farsighted on October 8, 2012 at 9:14 AM

On that point, I totally agree and that is where the similarities begin. Unlike Mogadishu, however, Benghazi had zero presence of US forces–no DOD SOF forces, Marine Embassy Guard, nor State security personnel.

ted c on October 8, 2012 at 9:17 AM

Obama is more of a “checkers” type of president

Ditkaca on October 8, 2012 at 9:17 AM

he loves all the black and red spaces….

ted c on October 8, 2012 at 9:19 AM

“I’ll sleep on it…thanks” – President Obama in response to Ambassador Stevens Bengazi Security cable.

workingclass artist on October 8, 2012 at 9:20 AM

I hope Mitt hits him as hard today as he did in the first debate.

I also hope that ContributionGate explodes today.

kingsjester on October 8, 2012 at 9:20 AM

Apparently the ambassador sent a cable because when he tried to call …

——
ring … ring … ring …

“Hello you have reached the office of President Barack Obama uh I am not in the office right now um I am out campaigning and fighting for you uh To join me in this important cause:

Press “1″ to enter a contribution

Press “2″ to enter an untraceable contribution

Press “3″ to report on uh vicious lies by your friends, family, or um co-workers

Press “4″ if you are from the main stream media and uh wish to receive tomorrow’s headlines

Otherwise stay um on the line and an operator will uh get back to you.

— click —

PackerBronco on October 8, 2012 at 9:22 AM

Hillary did take a 3AM call: Hil, it’s Bill, I’m tied up at the office.

Basilsbest on October 8, 2012 at 9:22 AM

Now Christoper Stevens knows what Tommy DeVito felt like when he walked into the empty room in GoodFellas.

This was a set up.

There’s no way in the world that competent government operatives would allow themselves to have their cheese out in the wind like this.

Someone wanted some series of events to transpire, things did not go as planned or anticipated, and Chris Stevens is dead.

Someone’s got some ‘splainin to do.

Barry? Can you explain this?

turfmann on October 8, 2012 at 9:23 AM

Is this abandonment of American officials and service men incompetence, immoral stupidity or even worse………….?

Herb on October 8, 2012 at 9:24 AM

A chinook full of Seal Team 6 that got shot down wonders the same thing.
ted c on October 8, 2012 at 8:52 AM

Good to see not everyone has forgotten.

Isn’t it interesting that Pakistan got real quiet afterwards concerning the violation of their sovereign territory?

Cleombrotus on October 8, 2012 at 9:25 AM

Isn’t it interesting that Pakistan got real quiet afterwards concerning the violation of their sovereign territory?

Cleombrotus on October 8, 2012 at 9:25 AM

very curious…….

ted c on October 8, 2012 at 9:27 AM

If nothing else, this should herald the end of the Hillary 2016 buzz.

What a fiasco.

Robert_Paulson on October 8, 2012 at 9:16 AM

We can only hope.

PatriotGal2257 on October 8, 2012 at 9:31 AM

The State Department responded this morning by claiming that Stevens had requested a specific level of security which matched what he already had.

That doesn’t sound true according to what Lt. Col. Wood is saying.

Lieutenant Colonel Wood has been given a subpoena and will testify this week. Here’s a bit more of what he has stated.

When asked what response their repeated pleas got from the State Department in Washington, Wood says they were simply told “to do with less. For what reasons, I don’t know.”
“We tried to illustrate… to show them how dangerous and how volatile and just unpredictable that whole environment was over there. So to decrease security in the face of that really is… it’s just unbelievable,” Wood tells CBS News.

lynncgb on October 8, 2012 at 9:55 AM

More from CBS:

Sources critical of what they view as a security drawdown say three Mobile Security Deployment teams left Libya between February and August in addition to the 16-member Site Security Team on loan from the military. That’s 34 highly-trained security personnel moved out over a six month period.

dont taze me bro on October 8, 2012 at 10:02 AM

This is outrageous. People lost their lives and it all comes down to the administration being accountable for the safety and bungling every opportunity they had to either secure the compound properly or get our people out of there. Despicable.

Thanks for keeping this story where it belongs. Never let up, Hotair, never let up.

scalleywag on October 8, 2012 at 10:19 AM

“Hello. Thanks for calling the White house. Our normal business hours are 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM or so. Please call back during normal business hours or leave a message after the beep.”

Akzed on October 8, 2012 at 9:04 AM

“We are experiencing unusually long hold times. Please visit our website http://www.emptychair.com.”

eyedoc on October 8, 2012 at 10:25 AM

Our current Administration is made up of such LIARS! WHY would ANYONE want to see Obama re-elected??? He out-and-out LIED to the American people about Ambassador Steven’s death—and the deaths of three other Americans! WHO wants a LIEING PRESIDENT who, to save his own butt, LIES to the American public???? ENOUGH ALREADY!

DixT on October 8, 2012 at 10:30 AM

The Administration was unprepared for a forseeable attack on American soil on September 11th.

Does it get worse than that? And why does he think he should be in charge of national security for 4 more years?

EconomicNeocon on October 8, 2012 at 10:32 AM

Well, let’s find out for sure. The US has been very bad at protecting diplomats, and I think Hillary has some questions to answer.

Another thing to note is that the dead ambassador comes out of the Suzy Creamcheese tradition being Berkeley trained. Considering the date, he should have known to stay out of Benghazi.

Well, who will ask…

Denver Bob on October 8, 2012 at 10:50 AM

The Obama Fundraising Juggernaut bumps over the dead body of Ambassador Stevens without a second thought.

profitsbeard on October 8, 2012 at 10:51 AM

This would hang any other sitting president.

Axeman on October 8, 2012 at 11:42 AM

The State Department responded this morning by claiming that Stevens had requested a specific level of security which matched what he already had.

Liars. If he asked to keep the 16, then by default he’s asking to keep what he already had. You cut it in half, not counting the fact that you ought to be laughed out of a job for suggesting the local security left was equivalent to 16 Special Ops soldiers.

This lying is criminal and some people ought to go to jail for it.

Dusty on October 8, 2012 at 11:44 AM

He sent a cable the same day asking for more security??

O.M.G.!!

PattyJ on October 8, 2012 at 11:49 AM

Betcha Hillary wishes now she hadn’t given away that Overcharge Button three plus years ago.

Dusty on October 8, 2012 at 11:53 AM

Yeah, but Sandra Fluke.

HerneTheHunter on October 8, 2012 at 12:06 PM

First, Fox News reported yesterday that the State Department decided to stick to its schedule of rotating out a 16-man Special Ops team assigned to diplomatic security in Benghazi, just weeks before the attack in August. They were joined in their exit by a six-man security team from the State Department itself:

“Rotation” implies that, as one team leaves the site, another is there to continue the security duties. Obviously, this was not the case.

One cannot help but wonder about the administration’s motives in leaving the consulate unprotected (for all intents and purposes) on the 9/11 anniversary. It almost sounds as though what transpired was the intended result.

Solaratov on October 8, 2012 at 12:20 PM

Ambassador Stevens is looking more and more like Uriah the Hittite.

I’m not really prone to conspiracy theories, but I’m beginning to wonder, “Who is Bathsheba?”

tom on October 8, 2012 at 1:07 PM

Now Christoper Stevens knows what Tommy DeVito felt like when he walked into the empty room in GoodFellas.

This was a set up.

There’s no way in the world that competent government operatives would allow themselves to have their cheese out in the wind like this.

Someone wanted some series of events to transpire, things did not go as planned or anticipated, and Chris Stevens is dead.

Someone’s got some ‘splainin to do.

Barry? Can you explain this?

This.

johnnybgood on October 8, 2012 at 2:02 PM

Libya was a war for oil if ever there was one, except we get none of the oil and we had to buy the missiles. Oh, and our ambassador is the one who gets murdered. This “smart diplomacy” thing seems to be straight out of the Neville Chamberlain Guide to Getting Nothing for Everything. If Obama was on a used car lot he’d pay sticker price plus tax, tag,and title in exchange for a warm hug from the salesman who just fleeced him.

stout77 on October 8, 2012 at 3:28 PM

Megrahi probably died a lot more comfortably than Ambassador Stevens. Oh well, even super-smart diplomacy is going to encounter some bumps in the road. What were Hillary’s qualifications, again? Oh that’s right, her appointment was a political calculation just like everything else. And she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary. David Axelrod might as well be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs as far as this crew is concerned.

stout77 on October 8, 2012 at 3:38 PM