Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said she has reviewed “well over 200” threat warnings that applied to the Benghazi mission before the Sept. 11 attack that killed four Americans.
“Now, it couldn’t say at a certain time or on a certain day. There had been prior attacks. It’s well known, the attack on the British ambassador, attack on the Red Cross. They both pulled out for a period of time,” she said today on CBS’ Face the Nation.
The Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman also noted homemade improvised explosives that had been thrown over the fence in April and caused some damage to a wall, “which is not much, but it’s an indication.”
“If you look seriously at the intelligence, the country is spotted with training camps. The country is a magnet for all of these groups, and there is a kind of lawless history about the Benghazi area, also,” Feinstein added.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), appearing with Feinstein, agreed that “the intelligence was good.”
“I mean, the threat stream was very clear leading up to that 9/11 event,” Rogers said, noting that two days later al-Qaeda affiliates killed four Tunisians protecting the U.S. embassy there.
“The intelligence said, hey, they’re looking for Western targets. They want to be more aggressive. All of that was right. What I find just absolute gross negligence was that they did not take the right precautions to protect the ambassador and the consulate employees,” he said. “Nor did they have the right plans in place to get them out. And that’s what, I’ll tell you, this is a serious, serious event here.”
Feinstein confirmed that Ambassador Chris Stevens “was unhappy” with security. “Some improvements were made. They were, clearly, inadequate improvements,” she said. “And the outside security departed when they saw people with guns coming down the street. We looked at the video and saw that.”
The senator said she believes the intelligence community should not have prepared the talking points given to UN Ambassador Susan Rice to take on the Sunday news shows.
“Additionally, I think somebody should have picked up the phone and called and said to a survivor, ‘tell me the story, what happened,’ the next morning,” Feinstein said.
If, as the administration claims, you have to pull al-Qaeda out of talking points because it might “jeopardize a contact or something else,” you shouldn’t even come out with public talking points in the first place, she said.
“And that’s why if you have to do it this way you shouldn’t do it,” Feinstein said. “There shouldn’t be public talking points.”