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InsiderOnline Blog: October 2012

Not Listening

The State Department ignored warnings that there was a security problem leading up to the September 11 attacks in Benghazi. So we learn this week from the testimony of two security officials who had been stationed in Libya. From Jake Tapper’s pre-hearing report:

[Regional Security Officer Eric] Nordstrom twice wrote to the State Department – in March and July 2012 – to beef up the presence of American security officers in Benghazi, but neither time was there a response. At no point from December 2011 through July 2012, when he left Libya, were more than three Diplomatic Security Service agents permanently and simultaneously stationed at the Benghazi post.

Nordstrom wanted at least five personnel to be stationed at Benghazi, but the State Department would not allow it. There were American security officers, however, at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, including three Mobile Security Detachments, which were part of the DSS, and a 16-member Security Support Team detailed from Special Operations Command AFRICOM, commanded by Wood. But the State Department would not give him permission to deploy them to be stationed at Benghazi. Deputy Assistant Secretary for international programs Charlene Lamb, in Nordstrom’s view, wanted to keep the number of U.S. security personnel in Benghazi “artificially low,” according to a memo for Democrats on the House Oversight Committee.

[Lt. Col. Andrew] Wood, a former Green Beret, told ABC News that he and other members of the Security Support Team wanted to remain in Libya past their deployment was scheduled to end in August, and that Ambassador Stevens wanted them to remain as well. Nordstrom has said that Lamb told him not to request for the Security Support Team to be extended again. (Its deployment had been previously extended in February 2012.) […]

“I do recall one conversation with her where she (Lamb) said that since we now had a residential safe haven in Benghazi that she didn’t seem to have a problem with having no agents on the compound because if something happened then personnel could simply go to that residential safe haven,” Nordstrom told investigators.

That safe haven proved a deathtrap. [ABC News, October 10]

Posted on 10/12/12 11:18 AM by Alex Adrianson

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