We already knew about the cable Ambassador Chris Stevens sent out on September 11, describing the deteriorating security situation in Benghazi. Today FNC’s Catherine Herridge reports on a different, classified cable sent from the Benghazi consulate on August 15, warning that al-Qaeda training camps were proliferating in the area and the consulate could not withstand a coordinated attack:
Summarizing an Aug. 15 emergency meeting convened by the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, the Aug. 16 cable marked “SECRET” said that the State Department’s senior security officer, also known as the RSO, did not believe the consulate could be protected.
“RSO (Regional Security Officer) expressed concerns with the ability to defend Post in the event of a coordinated attack due to limited manpower, security measures, weapons capabilities, host nation support, and the overall size of the compound,” the cable said.
According to a review of the cable addressed to the Office of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Emergency Action Committee was also briefed “on the location of approximately ten Islamist militias and AQ training camps within Benghazi … these groups ran the spectrum from Islamist militias, such as the QRF Brigade and Ansar al-Sharia, to ‘Takfirist thugs.’” Each U.S. mission has a so-called Emergency Action Committee that is responsible for security measures and emergency planning. …
While the administration’s public statements have suggested that the attack came without warning, the Aug. 16 cable seems to undercut those claims. It was a direct warning to the State Department that the Benghazi consulate was vulnerable to attack, that it could not be defended and that the presence of anti-U.S. militias and Al Qaeda was well-known to the U.S. intelligence community.
Well, that seems to directly contradict the New York Times report from Monday, “No Specific Warnings in Benghazi Attack”:
Interviews with American officials and an examination of State Department documents do not reveal the kind of smoking gun Republicans have suggested would emerge in the attack’s aftermath such as a warning that the diplomatic compound would be targeted and that was overlooked by administration officials. …
Defending their preparations, State Department officials have asserted that there was no specific intelligence that warned of a large-scale attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, which they asserted was unprecedented. The department said it was careful to weigh security with diplomats’ need to meet with Libyan officials and citizens.
What could the consulate have said, outside of predicting a specific date for the attack, that would have been taken as a “direct warning” by the State Department? The cable reportedly noted that al-Qaeda training camps were in the area and warned that there wasn’t enough security to protect the consulate — which had already been attacked multiple times at that point — against a “coordinated attack.” So what genius at the State Department thought it would be fine to have Ambassador Stevens in Benghazi without additional security on the anniversary of September 11?
The State Department isn’t answering, according to Fox News:
The State Department press office declined to answer specific questions, citing the classified nature of the cable.
“An independent board is conducting a thorough review of the assault on our post in Benghazi,” Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said in written statement. “Once we have the board’s comprehensive account of what happened, findings and recommendations, we can fully address these matters.”
So we’ll get a response after the independent review board releases a comprehensive account…well after the election is over and Hillary Clinton’s term is up.