The U.S. Mission in Benghazi convened an “emergency meeting” less than a month before the assault that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, because Al Qaeda had training camps in Benghazi and the consulate could not defend against a “coordinated attack,” according to a classified cable reviewed by Fox News.
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 a so-called Emergency Action Committee that is responsible for security measures and emergency planning.
In other words, weeks before Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans were murdered by Muslims waging jihad, the embassy told State that their position in Benghazi was untenable, it could not be defended. This wasn’t an empty intellectual exercise, either. The warning was sent in the wake of months of increasing assaults against the consulate, including a bombing last June. The head of security for the mission, the Ambassador, and others repeatedly asked for more help. Not only were they denied, but their security was reduced. And this was after being told there were al Qaeda training camps in the area.
But wait! There’s more.
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.)”
In a three-page cable on Sept 11, the day Stevens and the three other Americans were killed, Stevens wrote about “growing problems with security” in Benghazi and “growing frustration” with the security forces and Libyan police. The ambassador saw both as “too weak to keep the country secure.”
It is State Department policy to rely on local forces for their missions’ primary protection, in order to avoid antagonizing local sensibilities. In many places, this makes sense. But in Libya and, especially, in Benghazi? Where we knew our enemies had camps in the area and, as the quote above shows, the militias had no fear of the central government?
Didn’t anyone in Washington see the problem here?
There is no way this warning stopped at Secretary Clinton’s desk, either. She has meetings weekly with the President, and that she didn’t bring up Libya at some point is unthinkable. There were many requests for help before September 11th, too many to think it wasn’t brought up by Clinton or others in meetings with Obama. He had to have known there was a problem and, by either actively denying help or passively agreeing with the recommendations of others, did nothing about it.
There are three scandals here: first, the incompetence of judgement that lead to our mission and our ambassador having inadequate protection in a highly dangerous region. Second is the truth about what happened —and what didn’t happen— on the night of the battle, itself. Third and last are the serial lies and evasions of the Obama administration in the wake of the Benghazi disaster, including blaming an obscure video and throwing its maker in jail as a scapegoat, his First Amendment rights be damned.
The latter two scandals are fruits of the first: if the Obama administration had acted with reasonable caution in the face of evident danger in Benghazi, then there might not have been any attack, or it would have been fended off. We almost certainly would not have lost four Americans, and the President wouldn’t have felt the need to rip up the Bill of Rights in order to cover for his fecklessness.
Some have written lately that this scandal is worse than Watergate. I agree. Watergate was just a coverup of a petty burglary; Benghazi (and Fast and Furious) has cost lives — the Obama administration’s scandals get people killed.
On November 6th, we have the chance to throw these “felony stupid” bums out of office. I’m confident we’ll do just that. But, in the next year, Congress or the Romney administration must press for the truth of what happened in both scandals, regardless of where it leads.
The dead and their survivors are owed no less.
RELATED: From Walter Russell Mead, more on how Mali and other countries continue to pay the price for Obama’s Libyan adventure. We’ll pay, too, warns The Diplomad, a recently retired Foreign Service Officer.
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)