Monday, October 15, 2012

Benghazi Update- Secretary of State Clinton Accepts Responsibility For Lack of Security; Congressional Panel Interviews Witnesses; FBI Spends Only 12 Hours in Benghazi; British Weapons Unaccounted For

During an official visit to Peru on Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that she accepted responsibility for the security lapses leading up to the deadly terrorist attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans last month.
"I'm responsible for the State Department, for the more than 60,000 people around the world," she said. "The decisions about security are made by security professionals. But we're going to review everything to be sure we're doing what needs to be done in an increasingly risky environment."

She also addressed the question of a June explosion at the consulate in Benghazi that some have argued should have raised a red flag about security.

"I can't speak to who knew what," she said. "We knew there were security breaches and problems throughout Libya. That's something that came about as the aftermath of the revolution to topple Qaddafi, with so many militias formed, so many weapons loose. ... It was taken into account by security professionals as they made their assessments."
Clinton also seemed to dismiss accusations that the State Department and White House intentionally pushed a false narrative about a spontaneously-forming protest over a YouTube video serving as a catalyst for the deadly September 11, 2012 attacks for nearly two weeks- in spite of the fact there were no protests in Benghazi that night and the assailants used heavy weaponry such as mortars and RPGs.

While some have viewed this as President Obama 'throwing Hillary under the bus', Da Tech Guy makes the case that this was a shrewdly calculated move by Secretary of State Clinton that undermines Obama while heading off a number of stories about security breaches leading up to last month's attacks from a normally compliant media that was starting to get curious on the issue. The decision can also be viewed through the prism of a possible 2016 Presidential run by Clinton.

Meanwhile, US security and military officials testified before the House Oversight Committee last week, claiming that requests for additional security in Libya were rebuffed by higher-ups at the State Department. Lt Col Andrew Wood of the Utah National Guard commanded a 16-member Special Forces security detail responsible for protecting American officials in Libya after the collapse of the Ghdaffi regime- the team departed the country about a month before the attacks in Benghazi.
Wood told CBS News that he met daily with Stevens to discuss security.

"He was constantly concerned about the threats to not just himself but the entire staff there," Wood said.

Over the six months leading up to the attack on Stevens, Wood says the security situation in Libya deteriorated.

There were 13 threats or attacks in Tripoli and Benghazi, including two attempted assassinations of the British ambassador to Libya.

Wood said Stevens and his staff made the case for tightened security in emails and diplomatic cables. One by one, they lost three State Department security teams, their only airplane and, eventually, his squad too.

Wood said some of the security teams would have been in Benghazi on Sept. 11 to if they had been allowed to remain in Libya, and the four deaths might have been avoided.
Earlier this month, an FBI forensic team arrived at the site of the attacks in Benghazi- nearly three weeks after the attacks took place- and examined the area for a grand total of 12 hours. The site of the attacks had been left unsecured for nearly three weeks and the trek out to Benghazi was expected to yield little in the way of actionable information.

Britain's Foreign Office also reported that British weapons and vehicles left at the grounds of the US Consulate in Benghazi were unaccounted for after the September 11 attacks. The UK's envoy to Libya, Sir Dominic Dominic Asquith, survived an RPG attack that wounded two of his bodyguards in June and the Foreign Office decided to withdraw all British diplomats from the area shortly thereafter. According to testimony from Lt. Col Wood, the UK Foreign Office made arrangements with the US Consulate in Benghazi for safekeeping of the weapons and vehicles and retrieve them incrementally through multiple low-profile trips back to the area.

UPDATE- 10/15- AP is reporting that the White House is inexplicably announcing preperations to send a strike team into Libya.....yes- basically announcing a 'covert' mission to the public via mass media, apparently.

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