Issa and Chaffetz say they’ve “been told repeatedly” that the Obama administration not only “repeatedly reject(ed) requests for increased security despite escalating violence, but it also systematically decreased existing security to dangerous and ineffective levels,” and did so “to effectuate a policy of ‘normalization’ in Libya after the conclusion of its civil war.”
This “normalization,” the GOP congressman write, “appeared to have been aimed at conveying the impression that the situation in Libya was getting better, not worse. The administration’s decision to normalize was the basis for systematically withdrawing security personnel and equipment – including a much-needed DC-3 aircraft – without taking into account the reality on the ground. In an interview with Mr. Nordstrom, he maintained that the State Department routinely made decisions about security in early 2012 without first consulting him.” The congressmen submit ten questions for the president to answer.
What should have been warnings from cables and memos released by the House Committee holding hearings on Benghazi:
March, 2011, instability continues with violence on a smaller scale than during the revolution. Roving militias have a criminal presence and reports of torturing Gaddafi loyalists in detention centers were seeping out. Facilities in Benghazi did not meet minimum requirements.
September 2011, border crime continues. Militias grow, pipe bombs were thrown at MTC.
October, 2011, gunfights near the mission. A large increase in crime in Tripoli was recorded.
November, 2011, Eric Nordstrom asked if they were going to close Benghazi and could they use the armored vehicles. He was denied.
December, 2011 reports that al Qaida sent experienced Jihadists from Pakistan to Libya to build a new base of operations. Robberies and militia firefights were frequent and increasing.
A 12/27/2011 memo states that the permanent presence in Benghazi was down to 5 from an approved footprint of 17. The administration hoped to engage with the populace, particularly youth who hold high hopes for the future in a post-Gaddafi regime and saw that as more appropriate than adding security.
By January, 2012, increases in radical militia, car robberies, grenade fights, and a murder of a French businessman and a traffic cop in Tripoli sent further warnings. Murders, car jacking, kidnappings and sexual assaults are frequent. Political instability and lack of police and security after a brutal civil war led to increased crime and instability. Criminal groups have heavy weaponry including RPG’s and operate with impunity. Police are unprofessional and untrained.
There was concern that al Qaida was using kidnapping to finance their operations.
February, 2012, the French and the UK said they were pulling out of Benghazi.
February, 2012, Fear that al Qaida and the Islamic Mahgreb and other terrorist groups were positioning themselves for power. Al Qaida rebels were not leaving the area once the fighting was done.
February, 2012, Eric Nordstrom complains that he can’t operate with 2 agents, and never more than 3, as he was advised by DS.
Another February memo advises Eric Nordstrom that 2 more agents will be assigned but that will be “a long time coming” and that they might be able to free up 2 SST agents in the meantime. Eric Nordstrom replied that their British colleagues have 5 agents.
A February, 2012, memo from Shawn Crowley cited the fact that they would be down to two agents, only one to leave the grounds since a third was delayed. Eric Nordstrom said that added security came up in conversation withAmbassador Stevens as well.
March 2012, requests five agents in Benghazi were made.
March 2012, normalization of relations trumped more security for Benghazi.
May 2012, numerous incidents of murders, militia clashes, and student protests. Prior to the rebellion, students received inflated grades only based on political considerations, now professors were grading lower.
One candidate for office was assassinated in SE Libya. Others followed suit. One man had been tortured to death. Oil fields were under attack.
June 2012, “Libya’s fragile security deteriorates as tribal rivalries, power plays and extremism intensify.” Clashes with Libyan groups, attacks against Western interests, and the rise in the militias led to increasing crime.The border was unprotected and a source of constant fighting. Foreigners were increasingly targeted. The mission was a target of an IED, creating a large hole in the wall.
Armed robberies, shootings, kidnappings filled up June.
July 2012, a Libyan helicopter was struck by gunfire. The Libyan Olympic chief and journalists were kidnapped in Tripoli and Misrata respectively.
Since June 2011, concerns about radical groups and increasing crime have only grown.
September 2012 showed an escalation of terror with car bombings targeting former interior ministry officers and militia firefights. There were attacks on banks. The mission was under “a state of maximum alert” since August.
Read the Documents here.