Did the State Department receive warnings on September 11 that the Benghazi consulate was being cased for an attack? FNC’s Jennifer Griffin reports today that two cables sent from Ambassador Chris Stevens’s team to Washington the morning of the attack expressed concern that Libyan police had been seen photographing the compound earlier that day (h/t Hot Air):
“Two State Department cables show that Stevens’s team warned Washington that at 6:43 a.m. in the morning they had concerns that members of the Libyan police sent to guard them were photographing the compound. …
U.S. intelligence officials confirm to Fox that in fact there were reports from the ground in Benghazi three hours before the attack on the consulate that a Libyan militia was gathering weapons and gathering steam. That was three hours before the consulate was attacked at 9:47 p.m. on September 11.”
There is a lot here, but first, the cables. Max cited a Foreign Policy article earlier, which reported on draft letters from Stevens’ team to the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, warning that local police sent to guard the consulate had been photographing the building. But this is the first time we’ve heard that Foggy Bottom was actually sent cables about it. With the history of attacks on the consulate and other foreign missions in the area, the warnings from security officials, and the 9/11 anniversary, this evidence of local “guards” casing the compound should have been more than enough to raise alarms at the State Department.
Even if Washington officials didn’t see or receive the cables until after it was too late, that still raises more questions about why the administration would have assumed the attack was part of a “spontaneous demonstration” in response to the Cairo protests. The photographs were reportedly taken at 6:43 a.m., well before the protests erupted in Egypt.
Then there’s Griffin’s report that U.S. intelligence officials had word of Libyan militias gathering arms three hours before the attack. If so, was anyone at the State Department informed? Where exactly was the communications breakdown?
The Obama administration’s foot-dragging on this has ensured we won’t know the full story until after the election. But their initial claims seem more implausible by the day.