The Obama administration's unraveling story of the deadly September 11 attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya has not finished unraveling. A State Department official yesterday confirmed that there was no mob outside the Benhazi compound prior to the Al Qaeda attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. And a former security officer at the embassy told Congress that officials on the ground had spent months prior to the attack requesting more protection for the site.
From AP's Bradley Klapper:
Senior State Department officials on Tuesday revealed for the first time certain details of last month's tragedy in the former Libyan rebel stronghold, such as the efforts of a quick reaction force that rushed onto the scene and led the evacuation in a fierce gun battle that continued into the streets. The briefing was provided a day before department officials were to testify to a House committee about the most serious attack on a U.S. diplomatic installation since al-Qaida bombed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania 14 years ago.
The account answers some questions and leaves others unanswered. Chief among them is why for several days the Obama administration said the assault stemmed from a protest against an American-made Internet video ridiculing Islam, and whether the consulate had adequate security.
This new admission contradicts the administration's previous position that the embassy was subjected to a peaceful protest that was "hijacked by extremists." Obama administration officials were maintaining this claim nearly a week after the attack, although it was known within 24 hours that the attack was a pre-meditated act of war. Here is Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice making this claim the weekend after the attack:
Meanwhile, ABC's Jake Tapper reports that the former top security official at the embassy says Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's bureaucracy rejected his requests, over most of this year, to beef up security at the site in response to credible threats of a terrorist attack:
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 and the commander of a 16-member Security Support Team, Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Wood, heard that foreign fighters were flowing across the Egyptian border and were making their way across the border to the Libyan city of Derna – which is to the east of Benghazi — and from there were making their way to Benghazi. But State Department officials seemed oblivious to their Benghazi post’s vulnerability.
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 has been the case with many revelations about the Obama administration's inner workings recently, this one comes courtesy of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California). State Department mismanagement continued after the attack, creating a critical delay in getting FBI investigators to the site.
And while Rice was a key player in Obama's original disinformation campaign, there now appears to be a rupture between the president and his own State Department, with an unnamed official telling USA Today that State never claimed the Libya attack resulted from the little-seen trailer for the purported film Innocence of Muslims. "That was not our conclusion," the official said, adding that "others" need to answer questions about the false linkage of the video and the attack.
Nevertheless, the producer of Innocence of Muslims remains the only person American authorities have taken into custody in connection with the attack.
The Oversight Committee will continue hearings later today.