Reuters: State never responded to two requests for more security in Benghazi

posted at 10:01 am on October 10, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Former State Department security officer Eric Nordstrom will testify today to the House Oversight Committee about the security failures that led to the terrorist attack on our consulate in Benghazi and the assassination of our Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens.  Reuters got an advance look at his prepared testimony last night, and reports that not only did Nordstrom repeatedly request more security for the diplomatic mission, the State Department didn’t even bother to respond to his last two requests:

A U.S. security officer twice asked his State Department superiors for more security agents for the American mission in Benghazi months before an attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, but he got no response.

The officer, Eric Nordstrom, who was based in Tripoli until about two months before the September attack, said a State Department official, Charlene Lamb, wanted to keep the number of U.S. security personnel in Benghazi “artificially low,” according to a memo summarizing his comments to a congressional committee that was obtained by Reuters.

Nordstrom also argued for more U.S. security in Libya by citing a chronology of over 200 security incidents there from militia gunfights to bomb attacks between June 2011 and July 2012. Forty-eight of the incidents were in Benghazi.

No response? That’ a stunning revelation, especially considering the corner of the world in which this took place.  The fall of Moammar Qaddafi allowed the radical Islamist terrorist groups in the region to operate openly, a completely foreseeable consequence of the long-distance decapitation of the Qaddafi regime.  The string of attacks, now even greater than we were first led to believe, shows why Nordstrom wanted more security in place.  To refuse to even respond to those requests is as blatant a dereliction of duty that one can imagine.

ABC’s Jake Tapper hears the same about Nordstrom’s testimony:

ABC News has learned that Eric Nordstrom, the former Regional Security Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Libya, has told congressional investigators that security at the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, was “inappropriately low” – and believed that State Department officials stood in the way of his attempts to change that. …

Nordstrom was worried -he did not know how much the Americans could rely on members of a local Libyan militia in Benghazi that provided security — the “17th of February Martyrs Brigade.” Mostly merchants and shopkeepers before the war, they seemed eager, but they hadn’t much experience and other than a daily $30 stipend for food from the U.S. Embassy, they hadn’t been paid in months.

Nordstrom had “no idea if they would respond to an attack,” he told investigators.

As it turns out, the State Department hadn’t paid them in months.  Why would they respond?  Plus, Tapper confirms that State never bothered to answer his requests for increased security:

Nordstrom twice wrote to the State Department – in March and July 2012 — to beef up the presence of American security officers in Benghazi, but neither time was there a response. At no point from December 2011 through July 2012, when he left Libya, were more than three Diplomatic Security Service agents permanently and simultaneously stationed at the Benghazi post.

At the very least, this is incompetence that borders on the criminal.  It shows that this administration created a situation in eastern Libya that it failed to comprehend, and has allowed al-Qaeda and other Islamist terrorists their first real victory over the US since the original 9/11 — and that the administration has been trying to cover it up ever since.


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Comment pages: 1 2

The narrative is that Amb Rice had the same intel the rest of us had…as more information was gathered we changed our story…It was not our fault that we got bad intel…

d1carter on October 10, 2012 at 1:12 PM

Nordstrom was worried -he did not know how much the Americans could rely on members of a local Libyan militia in Benghazi that provided security — the “17th of February Martyrs Brigade.” Mostly merchants and shopkeepers before the war, they seemed eager, but they hadn’t much experience and other than a daily $30 stipend for food from the U.S. Embassy, they hadn’t been paid in months.

How do you not pay people working for you for months? It may sound trivial compared to the death of an Ambassador and staff at the hand of terrorists, but it points to a long period of neglect. Any private business knows that you make payroll no matter what.

I’m beginning to wonder if Ambassador Stevens was allowed to be killed off like Uriah the Hittite, or if the State Dept under Hillary is just that eaten-up with incompetence that it really was purely neglect.

The only way I can see State being run that badly is if they were under the thumb of multiple contradictory orders so that nothing could ever be done or taken care of.

I’m sticking with my Uriah the Hittite theory for now, but I’m starting to wonder.

tom on October 10, 2012 at 1:30 PM

When one of those “bumps in the road” is your Ambassador, a principled leader would resign – or at the least, mount a few subordinate’s heads on the spikes in the WH fence.
This leader goes to a fund-raiser!

When the going gets tough, Barry goes golfing.

Another Drew on October 10, 2012 at 1:54 PM

“…This IS what has me so dang ticked off!!
From Day One this admin from the top down has freaking well lied!
They continue to stall and cover up…”

The competence of Carter, the integrity of Nixon!

Another Drew on October 10, 2012 at 1:57 PM

Ha ! While denying more security, State bumped hazzard pay for Nordstrom as it was becoming more dangerous.
Kucinich just want all Dante at the hearing.

Jabberwock on October 10, 2012 at 2:02 PM

The officer, Eric Nordstrom, who was based in Tripoli until about two months

Nordstrom just said he was “proud” of his mission. He also essentially stated he had everything he needed.

Let’s get this straight. Four people including the VIP are dead. Yet Nordstrom is “proud” and had “everything needed”?

Mr. Nordstrom, you failed at your mission and the people you were sworn to protect are dead. You shouldn’t be proud. Nor did you obviously have everything you needed.

You were unprepared for the evident threats that were clearly articulated by several people including the ambassador. You did not make the effort necessary to secure resources and material for threat protection. You did not, when encumbered in that mission take any and all steps to secure your objectives.

As a DSRO, you should be ashamed and contrite at your failure. You should take any and all steps at clearly articulating lesson learned and point of failure.

Back off the tripe you had everything and are proud. There are other peoples lives at stake.

Marcus Traianus on October 10, 2012 at 2:03 PM

To refuse to even respond to those requests is as blatant a dereliction of duty that one can imagine.

No it’s not.

VorDaj on October 10, 2012 at 2:11 PM

If you serve the U.S. abroad, you are on your own.

That’s the message.

Christien on October 10, 2012 at 2:28 PM

As Obama told every one of his department heads, “I’ll be more flexible after I win the November election. I’ll be free to borrow more money from my Chinese pals and then you can get everything you have on your Christmas Lists.”

dockywocky on October 10, 2012 at 4:21 PM

The circular firing squad begins.

ICanSeeNovFromMyHouse on October 10, 2012 at 10:12 AM

…taking care of those in the circle jerk?

KOOLAID2 on October 10, 2012 at 5:42 PM

Borders on criminality? It’s way over the damn border and solidly into treason territory.

A quick hearing to run down the facts, and line them all up and shoot them.

sablegsd on October 10, 2012 at 7:45 PM

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