US officials: We didn't link Libya attack to video

Palestinians burn a U.S. flag during a protest against the movie, 'Innocence of Muslims,' near the United Nations office in Gaza City, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012. Muslim anger over perceived Western insults to Islam has exploded several times, most recently in Tuesday's attacks against U.S. diplomatic posts in the Middle East in which U.S. ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Palestinians burn a U.S. flag during a protest against the movie, "Innocence of Muslims," near the United Nations office in Gaza City, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012. Muslim anger over perceived Western insults to Islam has exploded several times, most recently in Tuesday's attacks against U.S. diplomatic posts in the Middle East in which U.S. ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

WASHINGTON — The State Department said Tuesday it never concluded that the consulate attack in Libya stemmed from protests over an American-made video ridiculing Islam, raising further questions about why the Obama administration used that explanation for more than a week after assailants killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.

The revelation came as new documents suggested internal disagreement over appropriate levels of security before the attack, which occurred on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the U.S.

Briefing reporters ahead of a hotly anticipated congressional hearing Wednesday, State Department officials provided their most detailed rundown of how a peaceful day in Benghazi devolved into a sustained attack that involved multiple groups of men armed with weapons such as machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars over an expanse of more than a mile.

But asked about the administration's initial — and since retracted — explanation linking the violence to protests over an anti-Muslim video circulating on the Internet, one official said, "That was not our conclusion." He called it a question for "others" to answer, without specifying. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly on the matter, and provided no evidence that might suggest a case of spontaneous violence or angry protests that went too far.

The attack has become a major issue in the presidential campaign, featuring prominently in Republican candidate Mitt Romney's latest foreign policy address on Monday. He called it an example of President Barack Obama's weakness in foreign policy matters, noting: "As the administration has finally conceded, these attacks were the deliberate work of terrorists."

The administration counters that it has provided its best intelligence on the attack, and that it refined its explanation as more information came to light. But five days after the attack, Obama's ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, gave a series of interviews saying the administration believed the violence was unplanned and that extremists with heavier weapons "hijacked" the protest and turned it into an outright attack.

She has since denied trying to mislead Congress, and a concurrent CIA memo that was obtained by The Associated Press cited intelligence suggesting the demonstrations in Benghazi "were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo" and "evolved into a direct assault" on the diplomatic posts by "extremists."

Alongside defining the nature of the Benghazi attack, Congress is looking into whether adequate security was in place.

According to an email obtained Tuesday by the AP, the top State Department security official in Libya told a congressional investigator that he had argued unsuccessfully for more security in the weeks before Ambassador Chris Stevens, a State Department computer specialist and two former Navy SEALs were killed. But department officials instead wanted to "normalize operations and reduce security resources," he wrote.

Eric Nordstrom, who was the regional security officer in Libya, also referenced a State Department document detailing 230 security incidents in Libya between June 2011 and July 2012 that demonstrated the danger there to Americans.

Nordstrom is among the witnesses set to testify Wednesday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. According to the panel's chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and the head of a subcommittee, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, the State Department refused repeated requests to provide more security for U.S. diplomats in Libya.

"You will note that there were a number of incidents that targeted diplomatic missions and underscored the GoL's (government of Libya) inability to secure and protect diplomatic missions," Nordstrom's email stated.

"This was a significant part of (the diplomatic) post's and my argument for maintaining continued DS (diplomatic security) and DOD (Department of Defense) security assets into Sept/Oct. 2012; the GoL was overwhelmed and could not guarantee our protection.

"Sadly, that point was reaffirmed on Sept. 11, 2012, in Benghazi," he added.

Nordstrom said the incidents demonstrated that security in Libya was fragile and could degrade quickly. He added that Libya was "certainly not an environment where (the diplomatic) post would be directed to 'normalize' operations and reduce security resources in accordance with an artificial time table."

Nordstrom also said diplomats in Libya were told not to request an extension of a 16-member special operations military team that left in August, according to an official of the Oversight panel. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and thus spoke only on the condition of anonymity.

The State Department has said it never received a request to extend the military team beyond August, and added that its members were replaced with a security team that had the same skills.

Democrats on the Oversight committee were sharply critical of Issa, the chairman, calling his investigation "extremely partisan."

"The chairman and his staff failed to consult with Democratic members prior to issuing public letters with unverified allegations, concealed witnesses and refused to make one hearing witness available to Democratic staff, withheld documents obtained by the committee during the investigation, and effectively excluded Democratic committee members from joining a poorly-planned congressional delegation to Libya," a Democratic memo said.

It said in the previous two years, House Republicans voted to cut the Obama administration's requests for embassy security by some $459 million.

The Democratic memo said Nordstrom told committee investigators that he sent two cables to State Department headquarters in March and July 2012 requesting additional diplomatic security agents for Benghazi, but that he received no responses.

He stated that Charlene Lamb, the deputy assistant secretary for international programs, wanted to keep the number of U.S. security personnel in Benghazi artificially low and that Lamb believed the Benghazi facilities did not need any diplomatic security special agents because there was a residential safe haven to fall back to in an emergency.

Issa had a phone conversation Monday with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton about the committee's investigation.

The FBI is still investigating the attack. Clinton also has named a State Department review panel to look into the security arrangements in Libya.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Stories

Comments » 12

20_Days writes:

The administration counters that it has provided its best intelligence on the attack, and that it refined its explanation as more information came to light. But five days after the attack, Obama's ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, gave a series of interviews saying the administration believed the violence was unplanned and that extremists with heavier weapons "hijacked" the protest and turned it into an outright attack.

Dump Obama, Clinton and Rice.

Reminds me of the three characters showing "I hear no evil, I see no evil and I say no evil."
Turning into "I see no truth, I hear no truth and I say no truth."

Ruger writes:

The death of our Ambassador had nothing to do with the video, there was no protest.

Is there anybody in this obama government we can trust?

http://times247.com/articles/obama-ag...

Speaking at the opening of the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday, President Obama portrayed the deaths of four Americans in Libya as a result of inflamed tensions over an anti-Islam movie produced in the U.S., rather than a terrorist attack.

20_Days writes:

Klaus,

When will you get it? The election is not about me and not about you. It is about stopping America from falling further into a financial and social abyss.

It may be time for you to cut your losses, lick your wounds and move on.

Todays headline in the Eagle is also telling the story that many on the East Coast of Florida, no matter what their history, will not be voting for Obama.

Have no fear, Obama's end is near!

August8 writes:

in response to 20_Days:

The administration counters that it has provided its best intelligence on the attack, and that it refined its explanation as more information came to light. But five days after the attack, Obama's ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, gave a series of interviews saying the administration believed the violence was unplanned and that extremists with heavier weapons "hijacked" the protest and turned it into an outright attack.

Dump Obama, Clinton and Rice.

Reminds me of the three characters showing "I hear no evil, I see no evil and I say no evil."
Turning into "I see no truth, I hear no truth and I say no truth."

Even this guy Klaus knows this was a huge lie and cover-up, stand back so you don't get anything on you as the blow back will begin "Today"
See ya Crat's in about three election cycles.

WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot writes:

Klaus and the other liberals might know it was a lie and cover up? They will never admit it! Klaus, this is exactly what I meant by most people have no critical thinking skills (especially liberals) because they would never ask the question. What if the government is BS'ing me? This crap happens on both sides of the isle all the time. It's all about elections. Spin everything they can for votes in their direction. It's time people take notice and question everything. The answers you find may disturb you.

It looks to me like the SS Obama is heading for an ice berg at full throttle! While that will make all the Reps happy, that happiness may be short lived. There was a biography on Obama and Romney on PBS'S Frontline last night. It did a good job being party neutral (not perfect, but good) and it is a must watch imo. Romney was a registered independent prior to being a Governor. He believes in the health care mandate for everyone. He was anti gun. It's hard to pin down where he really stands on some issues. I did not know that Mormons consider America the promise land of sorts. The US constitution as major part of their religion. Romney believe charities should step up to help the poor, and the sick, not Government. Whether it be Obama or Romney government programs are going away. I realize the battle call is "anyone but Obama" from the right! Be careful what you wish for.

2themoon writes:

Lie brils will do and say anything to keep power

WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot writes:

As I just said. Be careful what you wish for. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/...
Does Romney not understand that if the rebels take down the Assad regime minutes later the rebels will begin to fight against each other? There are 3 different tribes in Syria that hate each other. Their hatred for Assad has them cooperating for the moment. Should the rebels win in Syria that will destabilize the region even more. It will draw in other nations to help one tribe fight the other. It's time to leave that area of the world. Let them kill each other.

20_Days writes:

Klaus,

Nobody but nobody know what they are talking about when they disagree with your dribble.

Obama is going to be trounced in November. Live with it, or hate it for all I care.

20_Days writes:

FOUR GOOD MEN DIED AND OUR LEADERS LIED!

Dump Obama, Clinton, Rice!

They lied to cover up their ineptness, they lied to fool America, they lied so the "Great" one could be re-elected.

FOUR GOOD MEN DIED AND THEY ALL LIED!

20_Days writes:

Four men DIED, Obama, Clinton and Rice LIED!

RayNetherwood writes:

Shame on Hillary. Lies and ineptitude can be expected from Odumdum. Rice should be canned. Klauschen should be deported.

GRATING POMPOUS BROKE ODUMDUM

The Libya killings could have been prevented. Sad.

GRATING POMPOUS BROKE ODUMDUM has got to be shown the door, for the good and future of America.

20_Days writes:

Biden stuck his foot in it tonite with the absolute LIE that the administration had no idea what was happening in Bengahzi and that the Ambassador did not ask for additional security when that information was available for all to see since a couple of days after the attack. What a buffoon and liar Biden is.

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features