The evidence is now clear. The administration had no warning of the attack on the Benghazi consulate apart from more than a dozen previous attacks. The AP reports:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Despite two explosions and dozens of other security threats, U.S. officials in Washington turned down repeated pleas from American diplomats in Libya to increase security at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi where the U.S. ambassador was killed, leaders of a House committee asserted Tuesday …
Issa, R-Calif. and Chaffetz, R-Utah said the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans was the latest in a long line of attacks on Western diplomats and officials in Libya in the months before Sept. 11.
The letter listed 13 incidents, but Chaffetz said in an interview there were more than 50. Two of them involved explosive devices: a June 6 blast that blew a hole in the security perimeter. The explosion was described to the committee as “big enough for forty men to go through”; and an April 6 incident where two Libyans who were fired by a security contactor threw a small explosive device over the consulate fence.
Con Coughlin of the Daily Telegraph wonders why the administration failed to notice. Coughlin says the administration was warned; that the British themselves knew of the danger and must have shared it with the US. So how could they not have known?
But with the US presidential contest entering its critical final phase, the Obama administration deftly avoided getting into any controversy over the murder of Mr Stevens and three other members of the consulate staff by leading everyone to believe the murders were not part of an al-Qaeda plot, but the result of an outbreak of violence caused by a blaphemous film clip. This was certainly the line advanced by Dr Susan Rice, the American Ambassador to the United Nations, and a close confidante of Mr Obama. …
But the real smoking gun is whether the Obama administration was warned in advance that al-Qaeda was planning an attack. A number of Israeli newspapers have suggested that Washington was warned as early as September 4 – a week earlier – that the environment in Benghazi was becoming increasingly hostile and anti-American, while in London the Foreign Office took the decision to withdraw all its consular staff from Benghazi two months before the murders. This decision was based on an intelligence assessment made by MI6 that al-Qaeda was openly operating in the area following a failed assassination attempt on Sir Dominic Asquith, Britain’s ambassador to Libya, in June.
It is well known that British intelligence works closely with its counterpart in America, and if MI6 knew al-Qaeda was operating in the Benghazi region, then it is highly likely that the CIA did too.
The White House knew the consulate was under seige 90 minutes after it started. The WSJ says the administration then made the decision to ask the Libyans for help.
The hour is 5 p.m., Sept. 11, Washington time, and the scene is an Oval Office meeting among President Obama, the secretary of defense, the national security adviser and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi has been under assault for roughly 90 minutes. Some 30 U.S. citizens are at mortal risk. The whereabouts of Ambassador Stevens are unknown.
What is uppermost on the minds of the president and his advisers? The safety of Americans, no doubt. So what are they prepared to do about it? Here is The Wall Street Journal’s account of the meeting:
“There was no serious consideration at that hour of intervention with military force, officials said. Doing so without Libya’s permission could represent a violation of sovereignty and inflame the situation, they said. Instead, the State Department reached out to the Libyan government to get reinforcements to the scene.
In the aftermath of the Benghazi attack the administration’s attitude appears to have turned 180 degrees. Today the Washington Post reports that all official Americans have been withdrawn from Benghazi. The US position has gone from “leave security to the Libyans” to “let’s get out of here” in less than three weeks.
The Obama administration has withdrawn all official government personnel from Benghazi, the Libyan city where the country’s revolution was born and where the U.S. ambassador was killed last month, U.S. officials and local residents said Monday….
“Everybody who was in Benghazi and posted there has been withdrawn,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. She said she knew of no other U.S. government employees in the city to help investigate the attack or perform other work …
The FBI has been unable to set up operations in Benghazi as part of the investigation into the deaths of Stevens, information manager Sean Smith and government contractors Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. The absence complicates efforts to gather evidence and interview witnesses.
Several Libyans who provided security for the U.S. post said they have not been questioned by U.S. or Libyan authorities about the Sept. 11 assault. Others said that some witnesses had been flown to Tripoli, the capital, where U.S. officials say the FBI team is conducting its investigation.
“I don’t know why the Americans don’t come here,” said Wissam Bin Hamid, commander of the Libyan Shield Brigade, a militia that came under sustained attack while helping defend the second compound on Sept. 11. “Maybe they are afraid.”
The Hill says that the FBI may not going to risk going into Benghazi unless they are accompanied by Marines.
Pentagon and State Department officials are considering using the Marine Corps counterterrorism units currently in Libya to provide security for the FBI team investigating the U.S. Consulate attack there.
The notion of the Marines units, which are part of the Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Teams (FAST), running security for FBI investigators “is being discussed” within both departments, DOD spokesman Maj. Robert Firman said Monday.
What did they realize and when did they just realize it?
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