On Thursday, an FBI team finally arrived in Benghazi, Libya, to visit the sites of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. It took the FBI more than three weeks to get there. During that time, the ruined consulate remained only minimally secured, if that. A few days after the attack, a CNN crew went through the wreckage and found the ambassador’s handwritten journal. As late as this past Wednesday, Washington Post correspondent Michael Birnbaum, together with his interpreter, easily gained access, and reported finding that
Documents detailing weapons collections efforts, emergency evacuation protocols, the full internal itinerary of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens’s trip and the personnel records of Libyans who were contracted to secure the mission were among the items scattered across the floors of the looted compound.
Big questions surround this scene. Why was security so light, given the cascade of attacks and threats that preceded the Sept. 11 onslaught? Why did the Obama administration go to such lengths early on to portray the attacks as “spontaneous”? What documents might have been taken from the compound? Why did it take more than three weeks for U.S. investigators to reach the scene? For that matter, since the FBI team reportedly spent only about 12 hours on the ground in Benghazi, how much is being done to find out exactly what happened?
Perhaps we will find out more when the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform convenes a hearing now scheduled for Oct. 10, on “The Security Failures of Benghazi.” Committee investigators have already compiled a list of attacks and events in the months before Sept. 11, detailed in a letter from Reps. Darrell Issa and Jason Chaffetz to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, alleging that “the U.S. Mission in Libya made repeated requests for increased security in Benghazi” but “was denied these resources by officials in Washington.” There are plenty of questions that need answering.