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.