An “emergency meeting” was held by U.S. diplomats in Libya nearly a month before the deadly attack that killed four Americans because al-Qaida training camps were in Benghazi and because the consulate could not defend itself against a “coordinated attack,”
The emergency meeting was held on Aug. 15, and a classified cable summarizing the meeting – dated the next day – was marked “SECRET,”
The cable, addressed to the Office of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, appeared to foreshadow the Sept. 11 attack on the consulate that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
It contradicts White House statements that the attack occurred without warning – and in response to anti-Muslim sentiment over a video produced by a California real estate developer.
According to the document, the U.S. State Department’s senior security officer – also known as the “RSO,” or Regional Security Officer – 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.
Further, the consulate’s Emergency Action Committee was also briefed "on the location of approximately ten Islamist militias and AQ training camps within Benghazi …,” the cable said.
“These groups ran the spectrum from Islamist militias, such as the QRF Brigade and Ansar al-Sharia, to ‘Takfirist thugs,’” .
The cable also described the security situation in Benghazi as “trending negatively” – and specifically said 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,” the cable said.
On the day of the Sept. 11 attack, Stevens wrote a three-page cable about “growing problems with security” in Benghazi and “growing frustration” with the security forces and Libyan police.
the Aug. 16 cable served as a direct warning to the Obama Administration 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.
Obama administraion officials declined to answer questions regarding the cable, citing its classified status.
Benghazi a barometer of Obama’s incompetence
By Robert Maginnis 11/5/2012 06:00 AM
The Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi, Libya terrorist attack left four Americans dead including our ambassador, destroyed our consulate, compromised sensitive information, and made America look weak. This story lingers because it is a barometer on President Barack Obama’s competence.
The Benghazi attack exposed Obama’s foreign policy record as hollow and his government as incompetent. Specifically, he claims to have decimated al Qaeda and liberated Libya for democracy, but the facts leading up to, during and after the Benghazi attack eviscerate those “victories” and reveal a shocking picture of Obama’s poor governance.
Three key questions associated with the Benghazi saga expose Obama’s performance.
First, why wasn’t our Benghazi consulate better secured?
Part of the answer is related to the administration’s denial that Benghazi is a haven for al Qaeda-associated Islamists. That view is associated with the administration’s naïve belief that just because America helped liberate Libya the threat is diminished and besides, al Qaeda is “decimated.” Further, administration officials ignored calls for help.
The truth is al Qaeda has been active in Benghazi for some time. In fact on Aug. 12, 2012 the Benghazi consulate staff hosted an “emergency meeting” concerning local al Qaeda training camps. And one of the Central Intelligence Agency’s missions in Benghazi was to track Islamist groups like Ansar al-Shariah, the al Qaeda affiliated group that attacked the embassy. In spite of Obama’s campaign declarations that al Qaeda was “decimated,” al Qaeda-linked groups thrive in Libya and were responsible for four of the top five lethal attacks globally in 2011.
Our consulate was not secure enough. Consulate officials warned about the deteriorating security in Benghazi for months prior to the Sept. 11 attack such as a bomb thrown into the consulate in April and another detonated outside the facility in June. There was even an assassination attempt on the British ambassador while he visited Benghazi this summer.
This summer, the regional security officer likewise expressed concerns about the consulate’s growing vulnerability in the event of a coordinated attack, according to a leaked cable. That is why he repeatedly asked for physical security upgrades and staffing but those requests were ignored.
Even as the security situation deteriorated the administration failed to field a rapid reaction force or other military force to the region in the event of an emergency, even though intelligence agencies consistently cite Sept. 11 as a time of heightened security threats for the U.S.
Second, why was our response to the attack so clumsy?
The attack succeeded because the compound was insufficiently manned, intelligence was poor, and back-up plans were totally inadequate.
Indicators of a pending attack failed to garner the necessary support. Specifically, a letter found in the Benghazi consulate’s rubble expressed fears about the security situation on the morning of the attack. The letter revealed U.S. diplomats noticed a Libyan police officer conducting photographic surveillance of the compound the morning before the attack and the local police had not responded to requests for more security during the visit of Ambassador Chris Stevens.
This suggests elements of the Libyan government might have been complicit in the attack. It is widely known Libya’s militias run roughshod over the police and often co-opt officials for their own purposes. Further, the consulate’s external security was provided by the Islamist-leaning February 17th Brigade, which reportedly “walked away” from their posts just prior to the attack.
Fox News reports the consulate’s contract guards, Blue Mountain Security, notified colleagues in Benghazi of a growing security problem at least an hour prior to the attack. Also, various sources indicate Ansar al-Shariah fighters were pre-positioned around the consulate several hours before the 9:40 p.m. attack. Yet, in spite of the imminent threat, no alarm was sounded and no reaction force was sent to the consulate until after the attack.
Not until the consulate wall was breached by 20 armed Islamists who stormed into the compound and torched the main building was the outside world alerted. That alert sounded at the nearby CIA annex, the embassy in Tripoli and at the Diplomatic Security Command Center in Washington. Shortly thereafter, emails alerted administration officials at the National Security Council, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pentagon, and Director of National Intelligence.
A six person rescue squad from the agency’s global response staff departed the annex in short order, arriving at the consulate at 10:04 p.m. Meanwhile, the CIA base chief failed to recruit help from the February 17th Brigade, other militias and the Libyan intelligence service. It is noteworthy that the British consulate in Benghazi was never notified even though they have more people on the ground than the Americans.
Others did respond to the alert, but too late to impact the immediate fight. An unarmed military Predator drone arrived overhead an hour and a half after the alarm and CIA reinforcements from Tripoli landed at the Benghazi airport more than four hours after the alarm but didn’t arrive at the CIA’s annex until more than seven hours after the attack. Eight hours and 20 minutes after the alarm sounded, Libyan intelligence service forces arrived to escort the survivors to the airport.
Meanwhile, that evening, the U.S. embassy in Tripoli reported to Washington that the Islamic militia group Ansar al-Shariah had claimed responsibility for the attack. It is noteworthy that after the Americans abandoned the consulate, Ansar al-Shariah fighters surrounded the Benghazi hospital, where our dead ambassador was taken, while others pursued the CIA at the annex where they fired mortars that killed two former SEALS, both CIA contract security personnel.
Finally, why is the administration trying to keep the truth from the American people? It is likely that administration officials want to avoid the issue before the presidential election, but their effort to hide the facts makes them look incompetent and manipulative.
Leaked communications indicate top administration officials knew almost immediately about the assault and the culprits’ identity. Yet for days after the attack, administration officials — including President Obama — blamed the violence at the consulate on a spontaneous demonstration to an anti-Islam video. Later, the State Department admitted no demonstration had occurred at the consulate on Sept. 11.
The administration is also dragging its feet responding to legitimate official questions. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) has been complaining of the Pentagon’s lack of cooperation in providing witnesses for hearings.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta muddied the water claiming we didn’t send reinforcements to Benghazi because “the basic principle is that you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on.” Since when is that a military prerequisite? When people need help, our military gets there fast and develops the situation.
President Obama said during the presidential debates that he “gave three very clear directives” immediately after the attack: “secure those Americans,” “investigate exactly what happened,” and “go after those who killed Americans.” So far, the administration is failing on all three “clear directives.”
It took nine hours to “secure” the Americans vis-à-vis the arrival of the unreliable Libyan intelligence services. Obama should have launched a special forces unit poised an hour away in Sicily.
Obama directed the FBI to investigate. It took three weeks for the Bureau to reach Benghazi and once there they spent only three hours examining the 13 acre compound and evidently not very well. After the FBI’s visit Foreign Affairs Magazine reporters found important letters in the rubble. Now, the administration turned over the investigation to the State Department’s Accountability Review Board. Not surprisingly the White House is hiding behind that board refusing to answer questions.
The president promises to bring the culprits “to justice.” That’s unlikely because Libya is in chaos. Loyalists from the former regime are still very active and there is growing dissatisfaction toward the central government from both Islamists and regional power centers outside of Tripoli, like those in Benghazi. We saw evidence of that discontent last week when militia groups stormed Libya’s national assembly forcing the cancellation of a vote on a proposed coalition government.
The Benghazi attack exposes Obama’s failed foreign policy and his incompetence in governing. Specifically, al Qaeda is not “decimated” but very much a threat and Obama’s Libya “success” is shaping up to be a good example of how the Arab Spring opened the door to Islamic extremists and criminal militias. It also demonstrates incompetence because our government failed to adequately prepare a vulnerable consulate and then failed to appropriately react once it was attacked. And in the aftermath of the fiasco, the administration is covering up its failures and hiding behind an investigation.
Obama clearly failed his primary responsibility — safeguarding our people. It is incomprehensible that not a single resignation has been offered. Hopefully, the American people will demand Obama’s resignation Nov. 6.
Robert Maginnis is a retired Army lieutenant colonel, and a national security and foreign affairs analyst for radio and television.
Current and former intelligence officials say that a classified State Department cable sent Aug. 16 -- and which said the Benghazi consulate could not defend against a "coordinated attack" -- would certainly have gone to the White House National Security Council staff.
"The National Security Council sees everything," said fromer senior intelligence . "The staff are sitting on top of all the cable traffic which means the national security advisor (Tom Donilon) and deputy national security advisor (Denis McDonough) have some explaining to do. If Libya was of interest to this administration, the national security staff saw it."
“…which said the Benghazi consulate could not defend against a ‘coordinated attack’…”
We understand that you low-life sleezeballs who are out of real issues to deal with find a need to politicize the unfortunate loss of life at this consulate. (“Bigger than Watergate” “Impeach Him” “the President doesn’t care who gets killed or raped” etc. ad nauseam.
Here’s a fact for you to consider. NO CONSULATE, anywhere in the world, can defend against a “coordinated attack”. I don’t care if it’s the London Embassy…if foreign nationals in another country attack an embassy, it is impossible to defend it WITHOUT THE COOPERATION OF THE HOST COUNTRY!
Are you aware that there are only approximately 1000 Marines in Embassy Duty, total…and they serve at about 150 locations around the globe. You do the math…that’s about 6 per location on average. The entire concept of having foreign embassies is based on the International protocol that the host country is responsible for the security of the liaison posted on their territory.
A handful of Marines, with limited weaponry and ammunition, cannot hold off the entire population of a foreign country, nor should they attempt to. Did the Marines in Teheran even fire on the students during the Iranian Hostage Crisis? Of course not. If they had, every one of the hostages would be dead. What if they had? How long would their ammunition last? What would happen if a foreign embassy in Washington opened fire on a student demonstrations?
Where were all you folks when the Beirut Marine Barracks was bombed to the tune of almost 250 Marines killed in 1983?. President Reagan did nothing to retaliate and withdrew the Marines shortly thereafter. I don’t recall the opposition trying to imply that it was his fault, or that he was somehow glad it happened, as you disgusting people are doing now.
Yes, the consulate was attacked, and the valiant people did all they could do under the circumstances. Trying to imply that the Commander-in-Chief is personally responsible or worse yet, that he is somehow happy with that outcome is about as unpatriotic as it gets.
Based on his record so far, I feel quite confident that this President will make those responsible for this horrible deed, pay the price. You or I may not even know about it, but that’s how it works when you do what has to be done. Maybe a few of you chicken-hawks can enlist and go after them yourselves, instead of playing tough-guy political games with the misfortunes of true patriots.
There isno consulate in Benghazi. Just oner more lie to add to the many others. It was a CIA "safe house". I think they hung the Ambassador out to dry because he knew too much about the gun smuggling to Al Queda in Libya. He was involved in it when it started. We are doing the same thing in Syria. Pure insanity, or? something else.
The Obama administration is doing all they can to delay the truth of this incident coming out. They know that if the truth is told prior to the election, they are finished and so is Billary. They screwed the pooch on this one and they can't figure out how to get out of it. Obama is forgetting one the fundamental truths of politics...when you find yourself in a hole, STOP DIGGING!
If the truth of this failure is ever known, one might think many heads would roll, but if Obama is reelected, it will be swept under the rug much faster than Fast and Furious.
Yes, this makes Watergate look like a non-event. It appears Obama will be able to evade, brush off, and deflect, any real investigation on this, till well after the election. Imagine if a Man of Honor, like Mit, had this Press Corp protecting him. He could be elevated to Sainthood within a month of taking office. Whereas Barrack, should be impeached, and is one step ahead of having to resign, for incompetence. That would leave Biden in charge. And that is way too scary to even think about. Joe, and his 900 person crown at his latest Ohio campaign stop. I wonder if they included the press corp in that 900 number?
Sentiment: Strong Sell
Letters the Ambassador wrote, detailed the Al Queda flags, that flew yards away from the compound. Our people knew this attack was imminent, but no one up the ladder wanted to show doubt, as to the local security forces ability to protect our people.
Sentiment: Strong Sell