August 16 Cable Warned that US Mission in Benghazi Could Not Defend Itself Against a Coordinated Attack
Fox reports that the US mission in Benghazi, Libya convened an emergency meeting on August 15 to assess the worsening threat environment. After that meeting, the mission sent a classified cable to the US State Department warning that it was not capable of defending itself from a terrorist assault.
Summarizing an Aug. 15 emergency meeting convened by the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, the Aug. 16 cable marked “SECRET” said that the State Department’s senior security officer, also known as the RSO, did not believe the consulate could be protected.
“RSO (Regional Security Officer) expressed concerns with the ability to defend Post in the event of a coordinated attack due to limited manpower, security measures, weapons capabilities, host nation support, and the overall size of the compound,” the cable said.
According to a review of the cable addressed to the Office of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Emergency Action Committee was also briefed "on the location of approximately ten Islamist militias and AQ training camps within Benghazi … these groups ran the spectrum from Islamist militias, such as the QRF Brigade and Ansar al-Sharia, to ‘Takfirist thugs.’” Each U.S. mission has a so-called Emergency Action Committee that is responsible for security measures and emergency planning.
The details in the cable seemed to foreshadow the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. compound, which was a coordinated, commando-style assault using direct and indirect fire. Al Qaeda in North Africa and Ansar al-Sharia, both mentioned in the cable, have since been implicated in the consulate attack.
The State Department repeatedly turned down requests for more security at the mission, which was attacked on 9-11-12. Four Americans died in the terrorist assault.
In addition to describing the security situation in Benghazi as “trending negatively,” the cable said explicitly that the mission would ask for more help. “In light of the uncertain security environment, US Mission Benghazi will submit specific requests to US Embassy Tripoli for additional physical security upgrades and staffing needs by separate cover.”
As for specific threats against the U.S., the cable warned the intelligence was not clear on the issue, cautioning that the militias in Benghazi were not concerned with any significant retaliation from the Libyan government, which had apparently lost control in Benghazi. A briefer explained that they “did not have information suggesting that these entities were targeting Americans but did caveat that (there was not) a complete picture of their intentions yet. RSO (Regional Security Officer) noted that the Benghazi militias have become more brazen in their actions and have little fear of reprisal from the (government of Libya.)”
The Obama administration has insisted that the attack came without any warning, but the August 16 cable adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that the administration was warned but rejected requests to shore up security prior to the attack. During the attack, the president is known to have been meeting with Vice President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, but according to Fox's Jennifer Griffin, CIA agents in the battle requested help but were denied three times.
Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who was killed in the assault, warned in a cable drafted on the day of the attack that the security environment had continued to worsen, and that the local militias whom the Obama administration had hired to perform security, were not up to the task. Stevens warned that the black flag of Islam had been seen flying on government buildings in Benghazi after al Qaeda's show of force there and across Libya in June 2012.
An August report from the Library of Congress Federal Research Division also warned of the deteriorating situation in Libya. That report warned that Ansar al-Sharia, a new brand name al Qaeda is using in the region, was a growing threat in Benghazi and around Libya. In Facebook postings on the day of the attack, Ansar al-Sharia claimed responsibility for the assault at Benghazi before later denying its role. But intercepted communications captured Ansar fighters discussing the attack.
When she was asked about Ansar al-Sharia's role in the attack on October 24, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton grinned and laughed.
President Obama had skipped all of his Presidential Daily Briefings outlining threats during the entire week leading up to the assault, and he skipped his briefing on Sept. 12 as well, before flying from Washington to Las Vegas, NV for a political fundraiser.
Ambassador Chris Stevens, former SEAL Sean Smith, former SEAL Tyrone Woods and former SEAL Glen Doherty died in the Sept. 11, 2012 assault. The Obama administration spent two weeks falsely describing the attack as a protest that began in reaction to a movie produced in the US. The man who allegedly made that film remains in jail on suspected probation violations, with no hearing until three days after the presidential election.