Conflict & Justice

Benghazi security requests ignored ahead of embassy attack, leaked memo says: Report


A picture shows damage inside the burnt US consulate building in Benghazi on September 13, 2012, following an attack on the building late on September 11 in which the US ambassador to Libya and three other US nationals were killed. Libya said it has made arrests and opened a probe into the attack, amid speculation that Al Qaeda rather than a frenzied mob was to blame.



Security around the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya was under constant pressure in the months leading up to a deadly attack this September that killed four Americans despite calls for increased measures, Reuters reported today.

The news agency obtained a memo that said the US State Department denied requests for additional forces on the ground.

The memo revealed that US security officer Eric Nordstrom received no reply to his two requests for security reinforcements, Reuters said.

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According to the memo, Nordstrom “stated that he sent two cables to State Department headquarters in March and July 2012 requesting additional Diplomatic Security Agents for Benghazi, but that he received no responses.”

The memo also suggests State Department official Charlene Lamb wanted to keep security “artificially low” in Libya because of a nearby “residential safe haven,” Reuters said.

News of the memo comes a day after similar revelations by a senior Army officer among those in charge of protecting US diplomats in Libya.

Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Wood told CBS News on Tuesday he feared for US staff in Libya after witnessing numerous violent incidents beginning last February.

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“Shooting instances occurred, many instances involved the local security guard force that we were training,” Wood said, according to CBS.

“Constantly, there were battles going on between militias, criminal activity and that became increasing danger as time went on as well.”

Wood, who was due to give evidence to Congress, also said security deteriorated quickly and requests for military aid were rejected.

A House committee hearing on Wednesday will publically examine how the attack in Benghazi happened, according to Reuters.

Ambassador Chris Stevens and three staff members died during an assault on the consulate on September 11.

The incident has pressurized President Barack Obama’s foreign policy ahead of next month’s election.

In Libya on Tuesday, the local army blockaded the militia it believes killed Stevens. But a Libyan commander said the army lacks resources needed to make any arrests.

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