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May 16, 2013

Report: You Know Who Might Kind Of Be At Fault For Benghazi Facility's Insufficient Security? The Dead Ambassador.

I'm surprised it took this long but it's come to this (via Ben Smith)

In the month before attackers stormed U.S. facilities in Benghazi and killed four Americans, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens twice turned down offers of security assistance made by the senior U.S. military official in the region in response to concerns that Stevens had raised in a still secret memorandum, two government officials told McClatchy.

Why Stevens, who died of smoke inhalation in the first of two attacks that took place late Sept. 11 and early Sept. 12, 2012, would turn down the offers remains unclear. The deteriorating security situation in Benghazi had been the subject of a meeting that embassy officials held Aug. 15, where they concluded they could not defend the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi. The next day, the embassy drafted a cable outlining the dire circumstances and saying it would spell out what it needed in a separate cable.

Yes, why in the world would a State Department official who is on record several times as pleading for more security turn down an offer from AfricaCom Commander Carter Ham of just that very thing?

I don't know, maybe because that was official State Department policy?

During the hearing, the top regional security officer in Libya over the summer, Eric Nordstrom, and Lt. Col. Andrew Wood, a Utah National Guardsman who was leading a security team in Libya until August, placed the blame squarely on [Charlene] Lamb, the deputy assistant secretary of state for international programs, whom they said was the official who denied those requests.

"All of us at post were in sync that we wanted these resources," Nordstrom testified, adding that Lamb had directly told him over the phone not to make the requests, but that Cretz decided to do it anyway.

"In those conversations, I was specifically told [by Lamb] ‘You cannot request an SST extension.' I determined I was told that because there would be too much political cost. We went ahead and requested it anyway," Nordstrom said.

So it was official State Department policy in July that they would not be requesting any more help from the Department of Defense for security in Libya but it's Stevens fault for not accepting that same help in August?

Come on. Not everyone who works in government is a rogue, low level employee. Stevens was simply following the orders he received from DC. He and his staff were in an ongoing battle with those officials to get them to change their minds but he didn't disobey them and go running to another agency.

It's tough to say Stevens should have disobeyed those orders and accepted Ham's offer but State still could have the deployment quashed. I think it's too much to expect a mid-level guy like Stevens to buck not just his bosses but his entire agency.

The McClatchy story covers this down at the bottom but after giving "two government officials" lots of play and starting the wider conversation about Stevens possible culpability. It's almost as if someone is trying to deflect blame away from other parties.

Hillary Clinton was responsible for the tone and priorities of the State Department at this time. The buck and the blood stops with her.


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posted by DrewM. at 11:14 AM

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