Drip…. Drip…. Drip….. The Truth comes forth. Turning that spigot to brutally honest mode is the job of Congress now. Jason Chaffetz went to Libya over the weekend to gather information prior to the Congressional hearings scheduled for Wed, this week.
(Daily Beast) Just two days before the 9/11 anniversary attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, two leaders of the Libyan militias responsible for keeping order in the city threatened to withdraw their men.
The brinksmanship is detailed in a cable approved by Ambassador Chris Stevens and sent on the day he died in the attack, the worst assault on a U.S. diplomatic mission since the 1979 hostage crisis in Iran. The dispatch, which was marked “sensitive” but not “classified,” contained a number of other updates on the chaotic situation on the ground in post-Gaddafi Libya. [...]
The threat from the militias underscores the dangers of relying on local Libyan forces for security in the run-up to the 9/11 military-style assault. The U.S. consulate in Benghazi employed a militia called the “February 17 Martyrs Brigade” for security of the four-building compound. In addition, there were five Americans serving as diplomatic security and a group of former special operations forces that acted as a quick reaction force on the day of the 9/11 attack. Members of the militias led by bin-Ahmed and al-Gharabi overlapped with the February 17 militia, the cable says.
Jason Chaffetz, the Republican lawmaker who has led the House Oversight and Government Reform committee’s investigation into the 9/11 attack, says the State Department actually decreased U.S. diplomatic security personnel in the months leading up to the attack.
The cable, titled “Benghazi Weekly Report – September 11, 2012,” notes the dangerous environment in eastern Libya. It does not, however, make a specific plea to Washington for more personnel or more security upgrades, and concludes that much of the violence in the country consists of Libyans attacking other Libyans, as opposed to specific plots directed at the West.
Chaffetz, who visited Tripoli on Saturday, told The Daily Beast he has obtained documents and conducted interviews with whistle blowers that show the U.S. mission Libya did request more security from Washington in the run-up to the attack, but was denied. “Regional security officers were denied requests for more personnel and security upgrades to the four buildings and the perimeter security of the U.S. mission in Benghazi,” he told The Daily Beast on Sunday. More details on that negotiation will likely come out on Wednesday, when Chaffetz will hold his committee’s first hearing on the Benghazi attack.
The cable in some ways is bittersweet. It provides a snapshot of U.S. activities in Libya’s second-largest city before the assault that killed Stevens and three other Americans. It acknowledged the rise of Islamist forces in the militias and in the nearby city of Dernaa, a hotbed of al Qaeda recruiting in the last decade. In that city, an outfit called the “Abu-Salim Brigade” was beginning to enforce a harsh version of Islamic law that prohibited any co-mingling of men and women at the local university. One correspondent with the late ambassador urged him to send someone to Dernaa to “see the truth for yourselves.” (more)
CLINTON COVERUP - In a briefing to Capitol Hill staffers delivered the day after the deadly Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the killings appeared to be the result of a terrorist attack.
Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick F. Kennedy — who exercises responsibility for all department personnel, facilities, and operations, and who is one of the department’s most respected civil servants, having served in his position under both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations — delivered the assessment in an unclassified, half-hour conference call with staff aides to House and Senate lawmakers from relevant committees, and leadership offices, on the evening of Sept. 12.
That a State Department official of Kennedy’s rank — one with direct oversight of the installations and people targeted in Benghazi — reached so swiftly the conclusion that the attacks were premeditated and coordinated stands in stark contrast to the opposing narrative pressed at that time, and for several days afterward, by other top officials at State, the White House, and the intelligence agencies. (more)
(CBS) The former head of a Special Forces “Site Security Team” in Libya tells CBS News that in spite of multiple pleas from himself and other U.S. security officials on the ground for “more, not less” security personnel, the State Department removed as many as 34 people from the country in the six months before a terrorist attack in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others.
Lt. Col. Andy Wood will appear this week at a House Oversight Committee hearing that will examine security decisions leading up to the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi.
Speaking to CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson, Wood said when he found out that his own 16-member team and a six-member State Department elite force were being pulled from Tripoli in August – about a month before the assault in Benghazi – he felt, “like we were being asked to play the piano with two fingers. There was concern amongst the entire embassy staff.”
He said other staffers approached him with their concerns when the reduction in security personnel was announced.
“They asked if we were safe,” he told Attkisson. “They asked… what was going to happen, and I could only answer that what we were being told is that they’re working on it – they’ll get us more (security personnel), but I never saw that.”
Wood insists that senior staff in Libya, including Ambassador Stevens, State Department Regional Security Officer Eric Nordstrom, and himself, all wanted and had requested enhanced security.
“We felt we needed more, not less,” he tells Attkisson.
Asked what response their repeated pleas got from the State Department in Washington, Wood says they were simply told “to do with less. For what reasons, I don’t know.” (more)