Fox News’s Catherine Herridge has unearthed a secret cable sent on 16 August which details the concerns of the US mission in Benghazi about its security, given the presence of multiple terrorist training camps in the city, and the loss of police control by the government.
Says the Fox News report:
The U.S. Mission in Benghazi convened an “emergency meeting” less than a month before the assault that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, because Al Qaeda had training camps in Benghazi and the consulate could not defend against a “coordinated attack,” according to a classified cable reviewed by Fox News.
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. …
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.’”
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) have just been on Greta van Susteren’s Fox News show confirming that the cable exists.
The details make it clear that the US mission personnel in Benghazi, and Ambassador Stevens himself, were quite concerned about the possibility that the mission compound would come under “coordinated attack” by the Islamist terrorists proliferating unhindered in Benghazi. It’s equally clear that their chain of command acknowledged information about the terrorists’ Benghazi presence in reviewing the cable for Secretary Clinton.
Notably, the Site Security Team (SST) run by Army LTC (Reserve) Andrew Wood left Libya on 14 August, although Wood testified to Congress that Stevens wanted the SST to stay on.
Given the history of attacks in Benghazi this year, the intelligence on terrorist groups in Benghazi, and the US mission’s and ambassador’s concern about their security situation – registered several times in 2012 – there appears to be no excuse for two important things:
1. The failure of the State Department and the Obama administration to arrange better security for the US mission in Benghazi (and probably for the US embassy in Tripoli as well), before the 11 September attack.
2. The administration’s bizarre recourse to a narrative about the Nakoula video, when a set of known facts fully accounted for the nature of the attack on the US mission in Benghazi. It was known to the public within the first 24 hours that the attack was coordinated and professional, involving military-grade weapons. Everything that has come out since has simply strengthened that assessment. Not one feature of the attack is consistent with it being a spontaneous eruption from an angry Muslim crowd.
Experienced analysts in the punditry made that point from the beginning. They made deductive conclusions that have been validated by subsequent revelations.
But for government analysts with clearances, very little deduction was actually necessary. The cable reported by Catherine Herridge makes that clear. The US government knew the terrorists were in Benghazi, knew about the earlier attacks on other diplomats, and knew about the very specific concerns of Ambassador Stevens and his team in-country about the likelihood of a coordinated attack on the US mission compound in Benghazi.
Yet there was no apparent effort to improve security for the US missions in Libya. And in the wake of the 11 September attack, instead of acknowledging the raft of previous information that explained what happened, the Obama administration retailed a spurious story – apparently suggested by the tweet (later repudiated) of a US embassy official over in Egypt – about angry Muslims responding to a movie-trailer video.
I’m not sure it matters much at this point why the Obama administration kept crying “video!” for so many weeks. What the American people are owed an accounting of is why the administration didn’t acknowledge all the relevant, explanatory things that were known before the attack.
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