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 an 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.
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.)”
While the administration’s public statements have suggested that the attack came without warning, the Aug. 16 cable seems to undercut those claims. It was a direct warning to the State Department that the Benghazi consulate was vulnerable to attack, that it could not be defended and that the presence of anti-U.S. militias and Al Qaeda was well-known to the U.S. intelligence community.
There are a number of questions this cable brings up and that need to be answered, including who was specifically charged with reviewing this cable and whether action was taken by Washington or Tripoli. Given the specific warnings and the detailed intelligence laid out in the cable, did the State Department consider extra measures for the consulate in light of the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks – and if no action was taken, who made that call.
So far, the State Department has declined to answer specific questions, citing the classified nature of the cable.
I don't know about you, but the thing is really angering me and the more the Administration delays in answering questions, the more angry I become. People made bad calls and bad mistakes -and they need to be identified and, at the very least, they need to be removed from positions where they can repeat those mistakes. Waiting for the investigations to be completed before holding specific individuals responsible is fine -but they have plenty of information right now to identify many of the key players. Allowing them to remain in those positions, where their incompetence could cost more lives, is insane. The Administration should be coming clean about who knew what and when. They should be taking action to suspend or put the people responsible (for the lack of security and the lack of assistance after the attack started) into other jobs until the full investigations are completed.
Live Long and Prosper....