New JW Documents Reveal State Department Officials Knew of Benghazi Danger Three Months before Attack
We all know the old saw, “What happens if a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it?” But, with the latest Judicial Watch release of internal State Department documents, the far more important and pressing question is, “What happens if a warning is given three months before a deadly terrorist attack on a U.S. Consulate, and no one in the Obama administration – including the president and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton – chooses to heed it?”
On September 10, we released stunning new documents revealing that nearly three months before the terrorist attack on the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi, Libya – in which four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens were killed – top State Department officials were explicitly warned that security guards were abandoning their posts “out of fear of their safety.” The documents also warned that an explosion outside the compound wall had “created a fear factor when it came to working the night shift.”
In short, the State Department was told in no uncertain terms that the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi was unsafe. And, in fact, it was very likely a death trap. Despite this and other warnings, (Ambassador Stevens himself requested more help in July, two months before the attack, but his request was turned down by both the State and Defense Departments), the Obama administration unforgivably essentially left our people to fend for themselves in Benghazi. As Chris Hicks, who served Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli from July 31 to December 7, 2012, explained in the Wall Street Journal:
When I arrived in Tripoli on July 31, we had over 30 security personnel, from the State Department and the U.S. military, assigned to protect the diplomatic mission to Libya. All were under the ambassador’s authority. On Sept. 11, we had only nine diplomatic security agents under Chris’s authority to protect our diplomatic personnel in Tripoli and Benghazi.
Given all this background, you can imagine the honor and sadness Judicial Watch had announcing the release of these new documents at Capitol Hillpress conference with the family members of Benghazi hero Ty Woods, including his father Charles Woods.
The internal State Department documents at issue were obtained by Judicial Watch thanks to a February 25, 2013, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 13-1559) seeking:
Any and all records regarding, concerning, or related to the $387,413.68 contract awarded by the Department of State to an unidentified foreign awardee for ‘Security Guards and Patrol Services.’ According to the record of this expenditure on USASpending.gov, the contract was signed on February 17, 2012 and May 3, 2012, and is identified by Award ID SAQMMA12C0092.
According to the documents we forced out of the Obama State Department, on June 30, 2012 – nearly three months before the fatal Benghazi terrorist attack – a Quality Assurance Compliance Report from Blue Mountain Group (BMG) Libya to Department of State Contract Specialist Neal Kern warned that the number of local security guards leaving their posts had put the U.S. Benghazi Mission at risk:
Due to the amount of local guard force members leaving out of fear of their safety and the long process to security check individuals, it makes it very difficult to quickly react to a large drop in staff in quick succession as has been occurring with all the incidents especially when additional staff is requested.
The same June 30 report advised that an explosion on the perimeter wall of June 6 had “promoted a fear factor” with a “lasting effect” on the security staff:
On the shift 2200-0600 hours on 11.06.2012 [Redacted] emergency staff did not attend for his shift and gave no prior warning of absence, a replacement was not able to be sourced due to the time of evening and the bank staff members not answering their phones. It is believed that the explosive device set off on the compound perimeter wall had a lasting effect on certain members of the staff; this promoted a fear factor when it came to working the nightshift. [Emphasis added]
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Additional emails confirmed that in the months leading up to the terrorist attack, State Department officials were repeatedly informed of the Benghazi security staffing problems. A July 2, 2012, memo from David Oliveria, the Temporary Duty Officer in Benghazi at the time, contained the following warning about “manpower issues”:
Per our conversation, the original A&E request for guard service was to run from June 6th to June 18th. Unfortunately, due to manpower issues and unforeseen last minute resignations of BMGs guard staff, US Mission Benghazi were only provided the below guards (see email) through the 12th (starting 11th at 2200).
An email from BMG to State Department official Kern reveals that not only was the undermanned Benghazi Mission security detail afraid for its life, the situation there caused serious dissension among top security staffers:
Between the 18th – 30th April a Guard Commander was not provided due to the current Guard Commander [REDACTED] being relieved of his position due to an altercation with the NTC/QRF at the US compound. A new Guard Commander has been selected and will begin on the 3rd of May.
On the 22nd April a guard for Shift Charlie [REDACTED] failed to turn up for duty at 2359 hours, we were unable to replace this guard due to [REDACTED] not giving any prior warning that he would not be working. Unfortunately the shift carried out their 8 hour shift with only 4 men.
These documents show that our U.S. Special Mission at Benghazi was a sitting duck and that the State Department’s local militia “security” feared for their own safety and wouldn’t even show up to provide necessary protection. All security indicators were flashing red and, perhaps, with a show of strength to secure the Benghazi mission, U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods might be alive today. Once again, our independent work continues to shed more light on Benghazi than anything done by the media or Congress.
By the way, you may have noticed that the documents we obtained cover the period from March 1 through August 31, 2012. It is significant that the State Department provided no documents for the time period in September immediately leading up to the September 11 attack that took the lives of four brave Americans. In short, the Obama administration Benghazi cover-up continues – and so do our relentless efforts to ferret out the truth – more on that, next week.
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