Benghazi Attack: State Dept. Cut Security at Consulate Despite Pre-9/11 Attacks!

The Daily Beast's Eli Lake continues to dig into just what happened before, during, and after the September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The American ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, was killed in the attack along with three other Americans.

From the outset of the attack, Obama administration officials insisted that the attack was a spontaneous protest unleashed by the YouTube video "The Innocence of Muslims." For weeks after evidence piled up that the attack was in fact a terrorist action undertaken by a group with ties to al Qaeda, Obama spokesmen pushed the spontaneous protest line.

In previous, must-read reports, Lake showed that the administration knew otherwise within 24 hours of the attack (and that they had even gotten warnings about attacks). Now, he's writing an even more disturbing story: That the consulate itself and other Western targets had been subjected to attacks in the months prior to the 9/11 attack and that the State Department had reduced the security operation at the consulate.

On Tuesday, [Rep. Jason] Chaffetz (R-Utah) and the oversight committee’s chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), disclosed in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton details of an alleged April 6 bombing at the consulate. The letter detailed how in the run-up to the 9-11 assault there was an escalation of military-style attacks on Western targets in Libya’s second-largest city. The letter also said U.S. security personnel had requested, and were denied, additional security for the U.S. embassy in Tripoli and the consulate in Benghazi.

Chaffetz went further Wednesday, saying in an interview that the number of American diplomatic security officers serving in Libya had been reduced in the six months prior to the attacks. "The fully trained Americans who can deal with a volatile situation were reduced in the six months leading up to the attacks," he said. "When you combine that with the lack of commitment to fortifying the physical facilities, you see a pattern.”

Lake was not able to get a response about these new allegations from the State Department but he notes:

On Tuesday, Clinton wrote in a letter to Chaffetz and Issa that she intended to cooperate with the House committee’s investigation. But in the letter she did not promise to turn over all of the cables and documents requested by Chaffetz, saying she had empowered her own accountability review board to find out what had happened in Benghazi. “Nobody will hold this department more accountable than we hold ourselves,” she wrote.

The senior State Department official told The Daily Beast that on 9-11 there were five Americans serving as diplomatic security to protect Ambassador  Stevens at the consulate. But this official stressed that a group of former Navy SEALs and others with military training who were stationed less than half a mile away at a nearby annex factored into the security plan for the consulate. This official referred to this team as a “quick reaction force,” but also acknowledged that their job was not to provide protection for the ambassador.

Read the whole thing.

The whole thing is appalling. First and most important is that a U.S. ambassador and others were killed in a country that we supposedly helped liberate. Then comes the coverup on the part of an administration that seems totally at sea in terms of foreign policy (sadly, they are simply following in the Bush admin's footsteps in this), and now it looks like stonewalling will be the order of the day.

The next two presidential debates are supposed to include foreign policy, right?

There will be plenty to talk about. And between Barack Obama's demonstrated incompetence and willingness to scrap the Constitution (that's how we got into Libya in the first place after all) and Mitt Romney's cliched and played-out sabre-rattling and deference to the military-industrial complex, none of it will be pretty or make much sense.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • R C Dean||

    I'm having a really hard time imagining any hopes that Hillary! had of running in 2016 surviving this epic debacle, but I suppose its impossible to underestimate the voting public.

  • The Hammer||

    Hill-Dog!!!!! Woooooo!!!!!!

    -the voting public (according to admittedly unscientific surveys of HuffPo comment pages.)

  • wareagle||

    come on. The same media corps that has carried Obama's water will do likewise for Hillary. Since the article Nick cites is from The Daily Beast, you ought to visit there some time. It is another hot house of stupid, worse than HuffPo and approaching DailyKos levels.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    My favorite comment:

    This is what irresponsible Republican budget cuts lead to.

    GO TEAM!

  • Loki||

    What. The. Fuck. What "Republican budget cuts"? Shit, what budget? Un-fucking-believable.

  • Killazontherun||

    This is what irresponsible Republican budget cuts lead to.

    /minarchist hat on

    This is what the bipartisan love of moochers and wars leads to, actual functional needs of government get crowded out.

  • Pro Libertate||

    In many ways, she's just like Obama. Not qualified for office and promoted more for identity politics reasons than for any policy or capability.

    The field of Democrats in 2008 was possibly the worst slate of candidates in American history. Not that the slate of Republicans was all that much better, but at least the country knew what it was getting with them.

    No more mystery candidates, thank you very much.

  • wareagle||

    to paraphrase RC, you are grossly overestimating the intelligence and give-a-shit of the American voter.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I'm not overestimating them--many of them voted for these morons.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    I actually liked Bill Richardson.

  • Pro Libertate||

    He was okay, but he was more invisible than Johnson with all of the Obama and Clinton bullshit. It amazes me how much honor was heaped on these people who have accomplished nothing of value. Aside from getting elected/appointed, of course.

  • R C Dean||

    Bill Richardson is unusually corrupt even for a politician, you know.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That wasn't generally known until after the election, if I remember correctly.

  • R C Dean||

    Quelle surprise, non?

  • Paul.||

    I'm having a really hard time imagining any hopes that Hillary! had of running in 2016 surviving this epic debacle, but I suppose its impossible to underestimate the voting public.

    Dude, seriously? If Obama can survive this epic debacle (and thus far, it appears he has), the this suggests that Biden's 2016 chances remain strong.

    If this middle east thing can't even get a senate hearing (remember those? Seriously, remember those?), nothing will dislodge the blood sucking tick that is the Obama administration.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    If Obama can survive this epic debacle (and thus far, it appears he has), the this suggests that Biden's 2016 chances remain strong.

    Romney is going to slam this stuff pretty hard in the foreign policy debate, I bet.

  • BakedPenguin||

    ...I suppose its impossible to underestimate the voting public.

    Be fair, it's also impossible to underestimate the quality of people who run for public office.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "'Nobody will hold this department more accountable than we hold ourselves,' she wrote."

    Well, that's good enough. Expect some layoffs at the State Dept. soon.

  • Loki||

    Some second tier functionary will be thrown under the bus, the rest of the mess tidily swept under the rug. At least until after the election.

    If the Fast and Furious scandal wasn't enough to get it through people's heads that this administration is the dumbest most incompetent bunch of shitheads ever, this will hardly register with most of the mouth breathering Obama fluffers.

  • wareagle||

    it doesn't matter. By 2016, this will have been whitewashed (hey, is that racist?). Team Blue is worse in that regard than Team Red; the Reds tend to hold theirs more accountable for stuff.

  • Loki||

    It helps that TEAM BLUE has a sycophantic media in their pocket. If TEAM RED had that, they'd probably be just as bad.

  • wareagle||

    I wonder. Much of that Red media slammed Romney as much as the Blues did in the primaries and a few them are still on board that train.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    I seem to recall Bush's AG getting canned over lying to Congress about whether Karl Rove was at a meeting. That's child's play compared to what we already know Holder did.

  • Ken Shultz||

    It's kind of amazing how, even now that we have the interwebs, millions of different voices, all that...that the first story the president gives us is the one that people buy.

    I often link to this old story from six months after we invaded Iraq:

    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com.....iraq_x.htm

    And people still believe the president by default--I'm sure most Americans still think the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was a spontaneous overreaction to that YouTube video.

    There seems to be three important ingredients necessary to convince the American people of something--and make it stick...

    1) It must be said by the president. (party doesn't matter)

    2) It must be in the first public statement made by the president regarding the event.

    3) It must confirm people's preconceptions.

    Apparently, using those key ingredients, you can make the American public believe just about anything!

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Obama lied, ambassadors died.

  • Mike M.||

    But, but, Booooooooosh!!!

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I seem to recall something that PT Barnum said about this.

  • Loki||

    New headline for the linked article:

    Poll: 70% believe Saddam, 9-11 link are Gullible Dipshits

  • Ken Shultz||

    It was the anthrax attack, which still hasn't been fully explained--and most people seem to have forgotten about...

    It was the president getting up and telling us all about Saddam Hussein's WMD program. Yellow cake in Niger, Saddam's cooperation with Al Qaeda...

    When people are looking for explanations, they look to the president. And no one in the media was looking at any of those claims critically at the time. The Plume story didn't enter most people's consciousness until long after it became apparent that was no WMD in the inn.

    I mean, back before we knew what we knew now, who's gonna argue with the president quoting the CIA? Everything is obvious in retrospect, and in retrospect, nobody remembers being among the 70% who were completely fooled.

    I'm not trying to change the topic here, but I am saying this is the same phenomenon we're seeing about the attack on our consulate in Benghazi. Now that those three criteria have been met, it will be extremely difficult to convince average Americans of the truth. ...until it's so over, it doesn't matter anymore.

  • Mike M.||

    The F.B.I. actually put out a pretty comprehensive report detailing their case against Ivins. I personally found their evidence to be quite compelling and damning, but there are people out there who disagree. I suspect that for some of these people though, no amount of evidence would be enough to convince them.

  • Tonio||

    While I agree that the FBI has put together a good case against Ivins, it's real convenient that he's dead. And I'm not engaging in conspiracy theory here, I think he killed himself rather than go through what Hatfill went through - which says nothing about Ivins' innocence or guilt, but rather a lot about convenient closure.

  • Ken Shultz||

    This is one of those situations where a conspiracy theory is generally warranted.

    Point 1: The mobile weapons lab photos were bogus. There was no Niger yellow cake expedition. Somebody in the administration outed Plame.

    Point 2: Someone conspired to attack a number of people with anthrax.

    Whether anybody postulates that the FBI just went after the most plausible person may be another conspiracy still, but there are numerous conspiracies there--that are proven out by the facts.

    We don't have all the facts, and I'm not sure you can postulate what really happened in those conspiracies without theorizing to some extent.

    I think the anthrax attack may be the most significant event in contemporary history--maybe more so than the towers coming down themselves. The anthrax attack made it seem like it wasn't just an attack on a building somewhere in New York. For a while there, a lot of people were afraid to open their mail.

    It's just weird that we know so much about other events that don't seem to register more than blip on the radar screen of history--like the Oklahoma City bombing. But with something like the anthrax attack (and I'm not sure we would have invaded Iraq without it), we're left to a few details and a plausible argument from the same government agencies that BS'd us about Saddam's ties with Al Qaeda, bogus mobile WMD labs, and his nuclear program.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "3) It must confirm people's preconceptions."

    And, as I've written here before, what's really disturbing is that the preconceptions Obama exploited to deflect criticism away from himself, are basically racist/intolerant preconceptions...

    That's right, I accuse Barack Obama of exploiting racist/intolerant stereotypes about Arabs and Muslims--just to enhance his own reelection prospects.

    Obama's saying, "Don't blame me, America! Blame all those wild-eyed, Muslim Arabs, who are inherently so full of hate and violence that they spontaneously murdered our ambassador--just because of a stupid YouTube video!"

    That's disgusting. Scapegoating a race of people and their religion just to deflect criticism away from himself in an election season is disgusting. Obama should be ashamed of himself, and we should call him out for his racism and bigotry.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    So she's promising to cooperate but refusing to hand over documents?

  • Loki||

    She's promising to cooperate as long as "cooperate" means "whitewash and cover-up our incompetence at least long enough to get my boss re-elected".

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Until November, post election.

  • Raven Nation||

    Any chance Obama Part 2 mirrors, to some extent, Nixon Part 2: corruption, etc. swirling in the background but covered up enough to get through re-election? Then everything blows up in a second term: Fast and Furious, Solyndra, Libya, etc. Of course, there won't be a move to impeachment, but it could paralyze the BO WH in a second term.

  • ||

    Nixon was a Republican.

  • ||

    (meaning, the answer is "no")

  • Raven Nation||

    True, I get that. But right now the Daily Beast is leading on Libya and Univision is pushing on FaF. Is it possible at some point that a couple of journalists decide to favor their own rep and ego over protecting Obama?

  • Killazontherun||

    Just my guess but consistent with what I've heard happening elsewhere, someone in Obama's political operations likely got too pushy in asking them to whitewash FandF. Not a smart strategy, culturally insensitive even.

  • Tonio||

    There's always a chance, RN, but lacking an accurate method of predicting the future we'll just have to wait and see.

    Also, let's say there are major scandals - we could end up with POTUS Joe Biden, and the possibility for him to win the 2016 election because of the momentum of incumbency.

    Why do you hate my liver?

  • Raven Nation||

    My vote would be for an "embattled White House" for about 4 years, with little ability to accomplish much but an ability to veto Congressional legislation.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    the State Department had reduced the security operation at the consulate.

    In order to teach those crazy Republicans a lesson about the dangers of austerity?

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Nobody will hold this department more accountable than we hold ourselves," she wrote.

    Oh for cryin' out loud!

    I'm sure you're losing a lot of sleep over this, Mrs. Clinton, just like you did over your work with Madison Guaranty, but...um...your assurances weren't enough to keep the fraudsters at Madison Guaranty out of jail, and it isn't good enough to make us not want to know exactly what happened here, either.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    You don't need to police State. They will do it themselves. So go somewhere else.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I think Obama learned how to bullshit by watching the Clintons.

    There is nobody better at bullshit in the whole wide world--than the Clintons.

    "Nobody will hold this department more accountable than we hold ourselves."

    I mean, seriously?!

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    If she's talking about the media, she may very well be correct.

  • Ken Shultz||

    She wrote that to a House committee that's investigating what happened.

  • Tim||

    “Nobody will hold this department more accountable than we hold ourselves,”

    There's two ways to read that.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Haha, very nice.

    And true.

    I was laughing, now I am sad.

    But not very, because I have zero empathy for anyone who works for State.

  • Drake||

    Here it is SST = Security Support Team. The DC-3 was the aircraft the Ambassador had requested to get the team there fast if the shit hit the fan. The State Dept decided no extra security or transportation to move them around was needed.

    http://abcnews.go.com/images/Politics/page1of1.jpg

  • The Late P Brooks||

    “Nobody will hold this department more accountable than we hold ourselves,” she wrote.

    Promise, or threat?

  • Tonio||

    Just rote bullshit that people in her position recite when things go badly.

  • ant1sthenes||

    That's what I was thinking -- there are definitely two very different ways to interpret that statement.

  • Lord Humungus||

    There was a time in history where the death of an ambassador would result in war or rather harsh punitive measures. Even if it wasn't 100% the fault of the host country, they are supposedly still responsible for broader security around the compound.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    And then came the Kardashians.

  • ||

    In this case the host country was known to be unstable and had apparently shared what it knew about the risks involved.

    As to the

    Nobody will hold this department more accountable than we hold ourselves...

    bullshit, in a parliamentary system the minister responsible for a debacle like this would resign in disgrace and would take years to rehabilitate his or her political career, if ever.

    And that's the least that would happen. It's quite possible that the whole government would fall as govenment backbenchers deserted their failed leaders in droves and voted with the Opposition.
  • ||

    HTML fail.

    Only the "Nobody will hold this department more accountable than we hold ourselves..." part was supposed to be inside the [blockquote].

  • Killazontherun||

    Libya's government has been far more forthright about this than the administration who wanted us to believe it was a mass demonstration that got out of hand.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    On Tuesday, Clinton wrote in a letter to Chaffetz and Issa that she intended to cooperate with the House committee’s investigation. But in the letter she did not promise to turn over all of the cables and documents requested by Chaffetz, saying she had empowered her own accountability review board to find out what had happened in Benghazi. “Nobody will hold this department more accountable than we hold ourselves,” she wrote.

    Mistakes were made by low- to mid-level functionaries in State who will be severely disciplined or asked to resign. Of course, the review board will find that the Secretary of State and President had absolutely NOTHING to do with this tragic attack, which, I reiterate, was solely caused by a cheap-ass youtube movie.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    But in the letter she did not promise to turn over all of the cables and documents requested by Chaffetz, saying she had empowered her own accountability review board to find out what had happened in Benghazi.

    So we are going to have to wait until Wikileaks releases them.

  • R C Dean||

    she intended to cooperate with the House committee’s investigation.

    While we're parsing, I would point out that intending to cooperate is not the same thing as actually cooperating.

  • Ken Shultz||

    If history repeats itself, the cables will get lost somehow--only to miraculously turn up later in Hillary Clinton's desk.

  • Ken Shultz||

    And parsing is absolutely necessary if you want to understand what any Clinton is saying.

    It depends on what the meaning of "is" is, Bubba!

  • The Late P Brooks||

    I don't know why everybody is getting so excited about this. Libya is just a sleepy little backwater where nothing worth thinking about ever happens; they had no reason to believe there was any more need for security than in Paris.

    Mistakes were made.

    Wrists were slapped.

    Time marched on.

  • Killazontherun||

    Mistakes were made.

    Wrists were slapped. Promotions awarded.

    Time marched on.

  • شات عراقنا||

    very nice

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement