Oh, this just gets better and better. Not only did State pull security teams (note: plural) from Libya over a period of months, but, according to an interview of LTC Wood by CBS’ Sharyl Attkisson (1), State finally told them to quit asking, and don’t you dare go to the Department of Defense:
ATTKISSON: Do you feel like there was a disconnect between what you saw on the ground and what the State Dept. folks thought was going on in Libya?
WOOD: There was certainly no disconnect in our transfer of information to them. They were getting the information on the situation on the ground. We sent it up through State Dept. cables and I sent it up to the military side on the D.O.D. side. So, there was awareness of what the situation in Libya was about.
ATTKISSON: How did you get the word that your team would not be allowed to stay?
WOOD: We knew that was coming through the cables and the draft cables that were going back and forth. The requests were being modified to say ‘don’t even request for D.O.D. support’.
ATTKISSON: So State Dept. was telling the folks on the ground in Libya ‘don’t continue to ask for this help’?
The Right Scoop has the whole interview. Be sure to watch it.
This is a bureaucratic snafu of monumental proportions, one that eventually cost lives. It looks like the knowledge of the people on the scene was disregarded in favor of a small-footprint, diplomatically-correct approach of relying on local security. And no one in the higher reaches of the bureaucracy and the political appointees above them wanted to hear any dissent.
The hearings at the House Oversight Committee tomorrow should be quite a show.
RELATED: Did Libyan tribal politics leave the consulate without adequate protection? It seems two local militia leaders were upset we were backing a candidate they didn’t like for prime minister, so they threatened to pick up their guns and go home:
The brinksmanship is detailed in a cable approved by Ambassador Chris Stevens and sent on the day he died in the attack, the worst assault on a U.S. diplomatic mission since the 1979 hostage crisis in Iran. The dispatch, which was marked “sensitive” but not “classified,” contained a number of other updates on the chaotic situation on the ground in post-Gaddafi Libya.
The cable, reviewed by The Daily Beast, recounts how the two militia leaders, Wissam bin Ahmed and Muhammad al-Gharabi, accused the United States of supporting Mahmoud Jibril, the head of the Libyan transitional government, to be the country’s first elected prime minister. Jibril’s centrist National Forces Alliance won the popular vote in Libyan elections in July, but he lost the prime minister vote in the country’s Parliament on Sept. 12 by 94 to 92. Had he won, bin Ahmed and al-Gharabi warned they “would not continue to guarantee security in Benghazi, a critical function they asserted they were currently providing,” the cable reads. The man who beat Jibril, Mustafa Abushagur, lost a vote of no-confidence Sunday, throwing Libyan politics back into further uncertainty.
The threat from the militias underscores the dangers of relying on local Libyan forces for security in the run-up to the 9/11 military-style assault. The U.S. consulate in Benghazi employed a militia called the “February 17 Martyrs Brigade” for security of the four-building compound. In addition, there were five Americans serving as diplomatic security and a group of former special operations forces that acted as a quick reaction force on the day of the 9/11 attack. Members of the militias led by bin-Ahmed and al-Gharabi overlapped with the February 17 militia, the cable says.
This underscores the folly of not listening to our people in Libya, who knew the fractious, fragile state of politics there, and instead insisting on sticking to the preconceived notion of relying on Libyan militias. As this cable and the rest of the article by Eli lake shows, the plan had serious flaws, to say the least.
Flaws that got Americans killed.
(1) Between this and her work on Operation Fast and Furious, Attkisson is rapidly becoming one of my favorite MSM reporters.
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)