In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is seeking answers from the State Department about its refusal to increase security at the U.S. Consulate in Libya, following months of repeated attacks in Benghazi.
The letter details a list of 13 security threats and attacks in Libya during the six months leading up to the September 11 attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. He was among four Americans killed as part of the terrorist attack.
It wasn’t the first such incident that threatened the lives of Americans, according to the House committee:
• On April 6, two Libyans threw “a small IED over the Consulate fence.” No one was injured and no one was prosecuted for the attack.
• Then in June, a Facebook page publicized Stevens’ “habit of taking early morning runs around Tripoli.” The page is alleged to have posted a picture of the ambassador and “directed a threat against [him].” After a week or so, Stevens resumed his morning runs.
• Also in June, a larger IED destroyed part of the security perimeter “on the north gate of Consulate Benghazi.” The letter describes the hole in the perimeter as “big enough for forty men to go through.”
• In the weeks leading up to the September 11 attack in Benghazi, unarmed Libyan guards working for a British contractor received warnings from family members to “quit their jobs guarding Consulate Benghazi because there were rumors in the community of an impending attack.”
Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) asked why this pattern of attacks and threats against the United States was ignored by the State Department, which denied the U.S. mission’s requests for increased security.
The letter specifically asks Clinton if the State Department was aware of the attacks and threats leading up to September 11, and, if not, why? If headquarters was aware of the attacks and threats, the letter asks, what measures did the department take to match the level of threat in Benghazi? Lastly, the letter asks for details about the requests made for additional security and details about the response from the State Department to those requests for increased security.
These questions are the latest in the effort to determine the extent of the Administration’s knowledge about the attack, its perpetrators, and the conflicting information disseminated in its aftermath. The committee is expected to convene a hearing on the security failure in Libya on October 10.