I have a feeling more of these types of exchanges will come to light now that House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa has taken on the case and whistle blowers are stepping up. Jake Tapper reports on an internal State Department email that shows officials rejecting a request for a DC-3 airplane from the Libyan embassy security team in May:
ABC News has obtained an internal State Department email from May 3, 2012, indicating that the State Department denied a request from the security team at the Embassy of Libya to retain a DC-3 airplane in the country to better conduct their duties.
Copied on the email was U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed in a terrorist attack on the diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, Sept. 11, 2012, along with three other Americans. That attack has prompted questions about whether the diplomatic personnel in that country were provided with adequate security support.
As Tapper points out, it’s not clear that the DC-3 have been of any use during the terrorist attack. From the reports, it sounds like the consulate needed a lot more security personnel and Marines who were trained to respond to potential militia attacks. Plus, the requested plane was supposed to support the embassy in Tripoli. Still, this is another indication the State Department may not have been taking the security concerns of diplomats in Libya seriously.
As the drip-drip-drip of bad State Department news comes in from the media investigations, the FBI finally made it to Benghazi to carry out an investigation of its own. And it appears the three-week delay might have been caused in part by foot-dragging from Foggy Bottom:
A team of FBI agents arrived in Benghazi, Libya, to investigate the assault against the U.S. Consulate and left after about 12 hours on the ground as the hunt for those possibly connected to the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans narrowed to one or two people in an extremist group, U.S. officials said Thursday.
Agents arrived in Benghazi before dawn on Thursday and departed after sunset, after weeks of waiting for access to the crime scene to investigate the Sept. 11 attack. …
U.S. officials also suggested that there may have been some disagreement between the State Department and the FBI over whether or not the FBI team would use Libyan security or seek approval for the U.S. military to handle the mission. The U.S. Army Delta Force troops flew into Benghazi with the FBI team on three C-130 transport aircraft.
Attorney General Eric Holder said people should not assume that “all that we could do or have been doing” in the investigation is restricted solely to Benghazi.
It does seem bizarre that the State Department left the consulate completely unsecured for so long after the attack, as WaPo reported in a chilling dispatch from Benghazi. By the time the FBI arrived yesterday, I wonder how many documents that could have been critical for this investigation (and potentially embarrassing for State) had already “walked away.”