to Lack of Security in Benghazi
After a day of testimony on Capitol Hill and weeks of conflicting accounts from the Obama administration regarding the deadly Libya attack, the frustration of boots-on-the-ground employees boiled over late Wednesday.
Scathing criticism from two former security officers for the US mission in Libya surfaced at the close of an already-tense hearing before the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee.
During that hearing, senior officials continued to play down any suggestion that additional security forces could have prevented what was described as an "unprecedented" attack on Sept. 11.
But the two security officers indicated they were butting heads with higher-ups all along to try to secure more staffing.
"We were fighting a losing battle. We couldn't even keep what we had," said Lt. Col. Andrew Wood, former head of a 16-member US military team that helped protect the embassy in Tripoli.
The State Department's former regional security officer in the country, Eric Nordstrom, closed by recalling a conversation he had with a State official when asking for more agents on the ground. After being told he was asking for too much, Nordstrom recalled saying:
"'You know what (is) most frustrating about this assignment? It's not the hardships, it's not the gunfire, it's not the threats. It's dealing and fighting against the people, programs and personnel who are supposed to be supporting me.' And I added, 'For me, the Taliban is on the inside of the building.'"
Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy, at a briefing assembled for reporters shortly after the hearing, directly responded to that remark. "I was simply surprised to hear language like that used," he said...
The security question, though, was only part of what lawmakers were probing on Wednesday.
Members of both parties were also trying to find out more about why administration officials initially claimed the attack was a spontaneous reaction to protests over an anti-Islam film, only to acknowledge later it was a coordinated terror strike.
Senior State officials, though, walked a fine line as they delivered the department's nuanced position. Lawmakers repeatedly pressed the witnesses to explain, as they offered what was by any objective measure a confusing account...
The rest of the House hearing, the first held to date on the Libya attack, was devoted to security in Libya in the run-up to the attack.
Wood testified that "diplomatic security remained weak" through 2011...He told the panel that US security was so weak that in April, only one US diplomatic security agent was stationed in Benghazi.
Issa has alleged that the State Department turned aside pleas from its diplomats in Libya to increase security in the months and weeks before the attack in Benghazi.
Nordstrom addressed the diplomatic security issue in an Oct. 1 email to a congressional investigator. He said his requests for more security were blocked by a department policy to "normalize operations and reduce security resources."
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Editor's Note: There is a very fine and dangerous line between political spin and criminal cover-up. While both are disingenuous and opportunistic, when loss of life is being downplayed to affect a positive political outcome, those responsible for the manipulation of the truth must pay a price, be it through legal and legislative channels, or at the ballot box. Watergate pales in comparison to what the Obama Administration is doing with the Benghazi assassinations.
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