The revelation of a classified cable dated August 15 from Ambassador Christopher Stevens to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton describing in detail the security threats to the U.S. Benghazi consulate is a quantum leap forward in the reporting on the attack that left the ambassador and three security personnel dead.
We have Fox News’s Catherine Herridge to thank for reporting yesterday on the existence of the classified cable. Mainstream media coverage of Benghazi has been scandalously negligent. Indeed, David Ignatius, one of The Washington Post’s top columnists, is now citing Fox News for its breaking stories on Benghazi. This has clearly not been sitting well with the editors of the Post’s op-ed section, who initially chose to run Ignatius’s column, “Lingering Questions About Benghazi,” dated October 30, on its website only. Criticized roundly on talk radio and social media, the Post ran it in its print edition two days later.
The August 15 cable, marked “secret,” was sent by the Benghazi mission and outlined both the threats and the insufficiencies to U.S. security in Libya. The mission called for an “emergency meeting” to discuss the rapidly eroding situation on the ground:
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 repeatedly describes the situation in Benghazi as “trending negatively” because “the Benghazi militias have become more brazen in their actions and have little fear of reprisal” from the government of Libya.
“In light of the uncertain security environment, US Mission Benghazi will submit specific requests to US Embassy Tripoli for additional physical security upgrades and staffing needs by separate cover.” The cable went on to include “the location of approximately ten Islamist militias and AQ training camps within Benghazi.… [T]hese groups ran the spectrum from Islamist militias, such as the QRF Brigade and Ansar al-Sharia, to ‘Takfirist thugs.’”
The revelation of the cable follows the report on Friday by Fox’s Jennifer Griffin that CIA officers in Benghazi had been ordered to “stand down” when they wanted to help repel the attack on the consulate about a mile away. Fox also reported that the CIA officers at the annex had asked for military support when the annex came under fire later, but they had also been turned down.
Questions on what happened before, during, and after the Benghazi attack continue to pile up, and just a few media outlets seem to be looking for real answers.