Some explosive updates – Jason Chaffetz reveals the State Department intentionally withdrew security personell prior to Benghazi consulate attack. Investigators finally reach scene three weeks post attack, and early reports say two Tunisian nationals have been arrested:
The Security Withdrawl – In the six months leading up to the assault on the United States consulate in Benghazi, the State Department reduced the number of trained Americans guarding U.S. facilities in Libya, according to a leading House Republican investigating the Sept. 11 anniversary attacks. The reduction in U.S. security personnel increased America’s reliance on local Libyan guards for the protection of its diplomats.
This is the latest charge from Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Utah Republican leading a House investigation on the Benghazi attacks, regarding alleged security defects in Benghazi. Chaffetz said the information comes from whistleblowers who have approached the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
The State Department on Wednesday didn’t respond to requests for comment. However, a senior State Department official said an independent review panel was examining the charge. This official said it was routine to reduce the number of U.S. personnel serving in new diplomatic posts such as Benghazi over time. When the U.S. established its official presence in Benghazi in 2011, it was the middle of a war, and even routine jobs such as drivers were handled by U.S. personnel, this official said. (more)
Investigators Reach Compound – BENGHAZI, Libya — A team of US investigators visited Libya’s second city Benghazi on Thursday to examine the site where Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in an attack last month.
“An American investigative committee visited the site where the US ambassador was killed,” a defense ministry official in Benghazi told AFP, confirming that the team included FBI agents.
The dirt road which leads to the front gate of the US mission in Benghazi was sealed off in the morning by defence ministry vehicles mounted with weapons, an AFP correspondent reported.
“About 20 Americans dressed in civilian clothing came and we were asked to protect them until they leave Benghazi,” said a commander of the Libya Shield brigade, a former rebel unit under defence ministry command.
“They arrived in the early morning and worked for three hours collecting evidence,” added the commander, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
On Tuesday, Libyan authorities said they had approved an FBI visit to Benghazi to investigate the deadly September 11 attack on the consulate. (more)
Two Suspects Arrested – Two suspects in the Sept. 11 killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya American ambassador and three colleagues have been arrested at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, Kanal D television reported Thursday.
The suspects, identified as Tunisians, were detained late Wednesday as they attempted to enter the country with fake passports, Kanal D said.
Turkish police were questioning the suspects, it said. It was not clear whether the suspects might be extradited to Libya or the U.S., Kanal D said. The Turkish authorities were not available for comment.
The assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in which Ambassador Chris Stevens died coincided with a wave of protests in Muslim countries over an anti-Islam film made in the U.S. The Obama administration initially tied the attack to a mob action provoked by the film, then later characterized the incident as a terrorist attack.
The arrests came as FBI investigators spent a day examining the destroyed complex in the port city of Benghazi, CBS News reports.
A team of forensic specialists were escorted by a small U.S. military contingent that provided security, according to a U.S. official. The investigators spent several hours at the consulate and annex sites, the official estimated.
The team collected whatever evidence they could from the site to the extent possible, given the amount of damage the area sustained in the attack, according to a U.S. official.
The official wouldn’t tell CBS what was recovered from the scenes, describing the work as a
general effort to collect and document potential evidence.
Meanwhile, CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reported that, according to a House committee, a State Department officer told panel members there were 13 threats made against the consulate during the six months before the attack on
the facility on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
The officer told committee members that the U.S. mission had made repeated requests
for increased security. (read more)