More Questions Regarding Security in Benghazi

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on October 8, 2012

I realize that some people consider it practically unpatriotic to raise concerns about the security for the American consulate in Benghazi prior to the attacks that took Ambassador Stevens’s life, but I am afraid I can’t help linking to this:

U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens wanted a Security Support Team, made up of 16 special operations soldiers, to stay with him in Libya after their deployment was scheduled to end in August, the commander of that security team told ABC News.

The embassy staff’s “first choice was for us to stay,” Lt. Col. Andrew Wood, 55, told ABC News in an interview. “That would have been the choice of the embassy people in Tripoli.”

But a senior State Department official told ABC News that the embassy’s Regional Security Officer never specifically requested that the SST’s tour be extended past August, and the official maintained there was no net loss of security personnel. The Regional Security Officer “asked for a number of U.S. shooters because of the pending SST redeployment and he was at that number,” said the senior State Department official, who asked not to be identified because of the ongoing internal investigation.

The State Department issued a statement Monday, saying, “The SST was enlisted to support the re-opening of Embassy Tripoli, to help ensure we had the security necessary as our diplomatic presence grew. They were based in Tripoli and operated almost exclusively there. When their rotation in Libya ended, Diplomatic Security Special Agents were deployed and maintained a constant level of security capability. So their departure had no impact whatsoever on the total number of fully trained American security personnel in Libya generally, or in Benghazi specifically.”

I’m really not sure that I buy that explanation. The ambassador wanted the SST support to be extended, and it wasn’t because the RSO apparently never put in a request. So I have some questions:

  • Who was the RSO? Can s/he be subpoenaed to explain why s/he never put in a request for the SST support to go on longer?
  • The consulate got Diplomatic Security Special Agents to provide security instead of the SST. Is there a qualitative difference between the type of security provided by the DSSA and the type provided by the SST?
  • Couldn’t anyone in the State Department issue extended SST support? And if so, why didn’t they?
  • Couldn’t anyone in the intelligence services–presumably after picking up reports of potential planned violence against the consulate in Benghazi–issue extended SST support? And if so, why didn’t they?
  • Couldn’t the White House issue an order for more support? And if so, why didn’t it happen?
  • And finally, dare I ask that we get answers to some of these questions during the election season? It may affect our votes, after all.

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