Documents found in Benghazi consulate claimed "troubling" surveillance by Libyan guards; Update: Obama not participating in investigation; Report: State never requested military back-up during attack

If you follow only one link on the site today, make sure it’s this one. And don’t quit before the end or you’ll miss some vivid details, like the very special swastika graffiti left by looters.

Threshold question: Why were these documents still lying on the floor of what’s left of the consulate on October 26th, three weeks after the FBI finally swung by for a visit?

The two unsigned draft letters are both dated Sept. 11 and express strong fears about the security situation at the compound on what would turn out to be a tragic day. They also indicate that Stevens and his team had officially requested additional security at the Benghazi compound for his visit — and that they apparently did not feel it was being provided.

One letter, written on Sept. 11 and addressed to Mohamed Obeidi, the head of the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ office in Benghazi, reads:

“Finally, early this morning at 0643, September 11, 2012, one of our diligent guards made a troubling report. Near our main gate, a member of the police force was seen in the upper level of a building across from our compound. It is reported that this person was photographing the inside of the U.S. special mission and furthermore that this person was part of the police unit sent to protect the mission. The police car stationed where this event occurred was number 322.”

I’ve been begging for follow-up on Sean Smith’s now famous chat-room message, sent on the morning of 9/11, claiming that a Libyan guard had been seen taking photos of the compound. “Assuming we don’t die tonight,” he said glibly at the time. Until today that was the only hard evidence of an inside job by the skeleton Libyan security staff that State forced Stevens to make do with. Had Smith overreacted to something he saw, maybe, or were others at the compound also concerned? Now we know.

They were so concerned, in fact, that they alerted not only the Ministry of Foreign Affairs but the local police chief too. Funny thing: According to Foreign Policy, the chief was fired just one week later — but refused to step down and is technically still on the job, albeit on “sick leave.” And what about the Ministry of Foreign Affairs? The head of the local office claims that he never got any letter from the consulate — but the local police office says that it was, in fact, the Ministry that notified them of the consulate’s request for more police during Stevens’s upcoming visit. Here’s how that went:

“On Sunday, September 9, 2012, the U.S. mission requested additional police support at our compound for the duration of U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens’ visit. We requested daily, twenty-four hour police protection at the front and rear of the U.S. mission as well as a roving patrol. In addition we requested the services of a police explosive detection dog,” the letter reads.

“We were given assurances from the highest authorities in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that all due support would be provided for Ambassador Stevens’ visit to Benghazi. However, we are saddened to report that we have only received an occasional police presence at our main gate. Many hours pass when we have no police support at all.”

Normally I’d chalk up the lying to simple ass-covering after a gigantic security embarrassment, but given the element of an inside job introduced by the documents, I don’t know. In a city under the thumb of militias, how unlikely is it that people at the Ministry or inside the local police bureau were warned to keep security low at the consulate that night? Foreign Policy notes too that this new info contradicts a briefing given by the State Department on October 9 in which they claimed that there had been no security incidents at the consulate that day. A guard taking photos of the compound does, I trust, normally qualify as a “security incident,” so now we have a new question for the White House. Did State know about the guard snapping pics? If it did, why didn’t they rush some of the security assets in place in Tripoli and Italy to the consulate out of an abundance of caution on the anniversary of 9/11? If they didn’t, why wasn’t basic security at the consulate increased beforehand anyway as the consulate had been requesting for months?

Via RCP, here’s Catherine Herridge from Fox last night reminding you what State did, indisputably, know and what they chose not to do about it. Look out for the words “smoking gun.” Al Qaeda had training camps in the city and the consulate had next to no protection, and that’s somehow not enough to warrant sending extra security?

Update: If you knew nothing else about Obama except the way he’s stonewalled on this to protect his own sweet ass before election day, that’d be reason enough to vote against him. Disgrace:

Today, the White House press secretary let it slip during a press gaggle aboard Air Force One that President Obama’s inaction on the Benghazi situation now extends to inaction on the supposed investigation taking place. The administration has still not made clear what exactly is being investigated, or the extent of the investigation. And President Obama doesn’t much care. Said Carney:

“He has not participated in the investigation. He is anticipating results that show us exactly what happened and who is responsible and what lessons we can learn from it and ensure it never happens again. He expects the investigation to be rigorous.”

That’s from Ben Shapiro, who rightly notes that the investigation into what happened when the consulate requested help likely extends not much further than Obama’s own desk. He could tell us what he knew and what he did after the attack began, but he won’t because he cares about the election more than answering the public.

Update: Defense officials have decided that they’re not going to be the fall guys for the Barack and Hillary Show. New from Eli Lake:

It’s unlikely any outside military team could have arrived in Benghazi quickly enough to save Ambassador Chris Stevens or his colleague Sean Smith, both of whom died from smoke inhalation after a band of more than 100 men overran the U.S. mission at around 9:30 p.m. that evening and set the buildings inside ablaze.

But military backup may have made a difference at around five the following morning, when a second wave of attackers assaulted the CIA annex where embassy personnel had taken refuge. It was during this second wave of attacks that two ex-SEALs working for the CIA’s security teams—Glenn Dougherty and Tyrone Woods—were killed in a mortar strike…

“The State Department is responsible for assessing security at its diplomatic installations and for requesting support from other government agencies if they need it,” a senior U.S. Defense official said. “There was no request from the Department of State to intervene militarily on the night of the attack.”

The president, however, would have the final say as to whether or not to send in the military.

Typically it’s the ambassador who’s responsible for calling in the military, says Lake, but since Stevens was out of contact (and likely dead) early on, it was State’s call. Why didn’t they make it? Bear in mind that they likely had no firm idea about Stevens’s fate until the attack was over; for all they knew, he was holed up in the consulate somewhere waiting for the cavalry. Did Hillary ask Obama to do something? If she didn’t, why didn’t he do something anyway?