May 3, 2013
by Helen Tansey
Following months of hearings on the terrorist attack in Benghazi killing four American’s including U.S. Ambassador Stevens, Chairmen from five House Committees have released an Interim Progress Report (see report below) detailing facts gleaned from testimony, emails, reports and audio/video recordings by leadership from the State Department, Joint Chiefs, Deptartment of Defense, and the CIA.
Bottom line – Two Ambassadors – Cretz and Stevens – made several requests to the State Department to maintain or increase security detail in Benghazi. All but one such request was denied, and the one that was acted on lasted less than 30 days. Rather than increasing or even maintaining the current levels of security, State appears to have been hellbent on downsizing, which is unfathomable given the terrorist hot bed Benghazi had become plus the fact terrorist elements affiliated with al-Qa’ida had already penetrated the Benghazi compound on two separate occasions with IEDs.
From June 2011 to July 2012, then-Regional SecurityOfficer (RSO) for Libya Eric Nordstrom compiled a
list of more than 200 security incidents in Libya, 50 of which took place in Benghazi.6 These incidents included violent acts directed against diplomats and diplomatic facilities, international organizations, and third-country nationals, as well as large-scale militia clashes.7 U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi came under direct fire twice in the months leading up to September 11, 2012: first in April 2012, when disgruntled Libyan contract guards allegedly threw a small improvised explosive device (IED) over the perimeter wall; and in June 2012, when unknown assailants used an IED to blow a hole in the perimeter wall.
The decisions by the British Embassy, United Nations, and the International Committee of the Red Cross to withdraw their personnel from Benghazi after armed assailants launched directed attacks against each organization were additional major indicators of the increasingly threatening environment. These developments caused Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Wood, who led the U.S. military’s efforts to supplement diplomatic security in Libya, to recommend that the State Department consider pulling out of Benghazi altogether. Lieutenant Colonel Wood explained that after the withdrawal of these other organizations, “it was apparent to me that we were the last [Western] flag flying in Benghazi. We were the last thing on their target list to remove from Benghazi.”8
The Committee on Oversight & Government Reform chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R) will be holding hearings next Wednesday, May 8, 2013. If we’re lucky this hearing will include testimony for the first time from State Department personnel rather than political appointees. Why “lucky?” It appears one or more personnel have been waiting patiently on their employer to advise Issa on the process necessary for counsel to gain security clearance. Issa sent letters to the DOD, CIA and the State Department on April 16 requesting said guidance. Hearing nothing for 10 days from the State Department, he sent a second letter dated April 26 addressed to Secretary of State John Kerry. Four letters and more than 10 days later, Jay Carney, White House spokesperson, gave cover to the agencies in question by suggesting they knew nothing about the letters.
Victoria Toensing, one of the attorney’s representing a whistle blower has been all over the airwaves championing her clients rights by applying media pressure on the administration to respond accordingly and it appears to have worked. Yesterday, Toensing stated during a Fox interview she has heard from State and is now awaiting clearance –
One is left wondering if the stonewalling was purposeful so as to learn which federal agency the whistle blowers were employed. It appears the State Department was the only agency to not respond to Issa’s request because there has been no mention of the DOD or CIA by Toensing or anyone else.
Following months of smoke on the entirety of the Benghazi tragedy, one fact is clear–the downsizing of security personnel played a major role in the death of four innocent men and who knows how many injured. The person responsible for these critical decisions is former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. We know security wasn’t cut due to lack of funding, so, the question of the day is why did State shift money for security away from terrorist hot bed Benghazi? Let’s hope these brave, very brave, whistle blowers can give us some answers.
The following Interim Report was released to the public on April 23, 2013.