The Obama administration shot first and aimed later in Benghazi. They claimed the Benghazi attack was the result of a movie trailer protest despite the fact that they viewed the happenings in real time. They had to know there was no protest and that the attack was preplanned.
The hearings appear to reveal that this administration has a complete lack of understanding of what they are dealing with in foreign affairs. They appear to have no ability to respond appropriately as a result.
Security at the lightly-guarded diplomatic site was “weak” despite repeated requests for more protection in the months before the raid that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Wood told a Congressional committee on Wednesday.
Lt. Col. Wood said his special forces troops, who were assigned to protect American diplomats in Libya, were withdrawn weeks before the attack and that Washington ignored warnings that the consulate was vulnerable.
The administration attempted to place the blame on the intelligence community and assumed no blame. They claim the CIA head told them it was a movie trailer protest.
The fact that these four dead patriots had insufficient protection makes this more than a tragedy. It could have been prevented or they could have at least been given a fighting chance.
House hearings on Osama bin Laden raid Part I:
At 34:55: Lt. Col. Wood introduces himself. He is not connected to any government agency but came forward as a person with intimate knowledge of the security in Benghazi.
At 43:00: Lt. Col. Wood describes an increasingly dangerous situation, stating at one time there was only one security person at the compound. He said that requests were made for more security but they were never able to obtain enough security to feel comfortable.
At 44:00: Mr. Norsdstrom introduces himself.
At 46:00: Mr. Nordstrom said he has not seen an attack of such ferocity in his time in Libya nor in his time of diplomatic service. He is concerned that this represents a new reality (an increased presence of Al Qaeda).
Later in the hearings, Lt. Col. Wood said that al-Qaida is much worse since Gaddafi was overthrown and they are growing stronger every day.
At 48:00: Mr. Nordstrom begins describing the weakened state of Libya. He noted increasing attacks on foreign interests. He said he repeated requests for armed security staffing.
At 50:29: Mr. Nordstrom explained that in deference to sensitivity to Libyan practice the guards at Benghazi were unarmed.
At 52:17: Charlene Lamb introduced herself and talked about security equipment she installed. Later during the testimony, it was stated that the compound did not meet minimum requirements.
At 57:15: Ms. Lamb described the details of the event.
At 1:04: Ambassador Kennedy introduced his role.
At 1:16:43: Chairman Darrel Issa asked Charlene Lamb about something she had said the day prior which was that the compound never requested more security, they merely made a recommendation.
Mr. Issa said that she received a recommendation from Mr. Nordstrom for more security and she said that if she received such a request she would not grant it.
During the testimony, she said that they did not request security. Darrel Issa had a cable in which Mr. Nordstrom requested more security.
From 1:18:25: – 1:19: Ms. Lamb said they didn’t make a good enough case. She said they had the correct number of assets in Benghazi even though 4 are dead. Cables were sent from Mr. Nordstrom, signed by Ambassador Stevens, describing the increased presence of al-Qaida, and requesting more security.
1:25:28: Mr. Cummings said there were five agents assigned to the compound, however, Ms. Lamb admitted that two DHS agents traveled to Benghazi with the Ambassador and three were at the compound. The two were there by chance. Ms. Lamb said three was a sufficient number of agents on the ground.
1:27: Ambassador Kennedy called it a terrorist attack and then said it was too soon to label it a terrorist attack. Ms. Lamb would not use the word “terrorist” and will only refer to “attacks” and “attackers.”
1:29: Ms. Lamb would not support additional personnel in Tripoli and was training local Libyans. Local Libyans were told there would be an attack and they left.
1:30:50: Mr. Nordstrom said there were many specific conversations about staffing. They continually requested about 12 armed security with an additional 6 persons for training. Thirty percent turnover also hampered security.
1:37: Ambassador Kennedy said that Susan Rice’s comments were correct at that time and said it was evolving and still is.
1:42:36: Lt. Col. Wood was in Libya for 6 months, Mr. Nordstrom was in Libya for ten months, Mr. Lamb has not visited Libya, Mr. Kennedy has never been to Libya.
1:46:50 Lt. Col. Wood expressed concern and frustration that additional resources was never provided.
1:49:11: Kucinich speech about the very real security failures at Benghazi.
2:00: Mr. Nordstrom again talked about the requests for additional resources that were continuously denied.
2:16: 50 Minutes of tape that only Democrats have seen has not been turned over. Mr. Issa was not invited to the briefing that occurred in which the tape was discussed. Mr. Cummings, a Democrat, said he was informed of the meeting but not invited. Mr. Issa said they were very surprised to see him show up.
2:25:50: Conditions in Libya could devolve in the loss of life at any minute according to Lt. Col. Wood’s testimony. He cited lawlessness as the norm with ongoing assassinations, insurgent activity along the border draining the fledgling government, no control of borders, extensive weapon smuggling, loss of weapons, anti-aircraft guns, and tanks could be found with anyone, firefights were constant, increased attacks on Americans..
He later said that 10,000 to 20,000 weapons are missing.
2:43:30: Ambassador Kennedy could not recall one report that was counter to the video story.
2:43:44: Lt. Col. Wood instantly recognized it as a terrorist attack from his experience – it was only a matter of time – they were the last flag flying. Mr. Nordstrom confirmed that it was likely al-Qaida from the moment it occurred.
2:45:45: Mr. Labrador said that Susan Rice went on TV, probably at the direction of the administration, to tell the American people that only one conclusion wass possible – it was the result of a protest over the video – even while the intelligence community was saying something quite different.
3:09: Mr. Nordstrom said that he was forced to a lesser security profile due to reduced staffing. As a result, instead of man-to-man defense, they had to move to zone defense. In other words, they had to rely on help from other areas in the case of an attack while sheltered in a facility that did not meet minimum requirements.
House hearings Part II:
00:29: Mr. Kelly asked the witnesses what 9/11 meant to them. They all said it was the attack on the United States. He then asked why it took them all so long to figure it out. He talked about the absurdity of Susan Rice’s claims the Sunday after the Tuesday attack. He referred to the inadequate briefing by Secretary of State Clinton to the House committee.
6:54: Mr. Nordstrom requested resources and it was denied. Charlene Lamb never responded to Mr. Nordstrom’s request. She also said the day before that no request was made – it was a recommendation. Whistleblowers gave copies of the cables making the request and she had to change her story.
8:28: Ms. Lamb said she claimed that she did not provide the SST team because they had other resources that could provide that service and that she discussed it with Mr. Nordstrom.
9:17: Lt. Col.Wood said the SST’s were there and if they could have used them that would have made a difference.
9:56: Libya knew it was a terror attack Mr. Ross said Libyans knew within 24 hours and we still sent Mr. Carney and Ms. Rice out there to say something different.
11:18: Ambassador Kennedy said there was no political pressure. Mr. Ross said that it was professional malpractice then.
11:58: Mr. Gowdy reviewed the list of attacks prior to the Libyan attack. He stated that the statements on TV were false – were they negligent, a disregard for the truth or was it more nefarious than that? It was never spontaneous, never about a video and he wanted to know why they were lied to.
17:00: Mr. Cummings was very concerned that Ms. Rice was accused of lying and we need to be careful about the accusations. [I hope he says the same about Mr. Obama’s claims that Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan are liars.]
19:49: Ms. Lamb said that she has the resources to cover the embassies and it is not about money. [This was asked at least twice and twice she said it was not about the money The reason it was asked was because Mr. Lynch said the problem in Benghazi was caused by Republican budget cuts]. She claimed that Mr. Nordstrom could not give a clear request and she provided everything he asked for.
21:00: Ambassador Kennedy said the SST team was a Tripoli team.
21:28: Mr. Nordstrom detailed cables and memos he sent requesting help, some of which the committee had from whistleblowers. He said the resources were never provided.
22:38: Mr. Farenthold asked if other embassies were in danger and Lt. Col. Wood said he had the impression that “a cookie cutter approach was being assigned to us.”
24:56: Ms. Lamb said it was not a lack of money that led to the failure to provide resources. She said the attack was unprecedented.
32:41: Ms. Adams had to drag it out of Ms. Lamb that al-Qaida is the most worrisome group on the anniversary of 9/11.
51:00: Despite the requests for more help, despite over 200 attacks prior to the Benghazi attack, Mr. Kennedy insisted there was no actionable intelligence. Mr. Jordon asked if there was any way to get help – what would it take?
Mr. Nordstrom said the worst thing was fighting the bureaucracy that was supposed to be helping them.
Mr. Nordstrom couldn’t even keep the help he had. When he asked for 12 agents, Mr. Nordstrom was told by the regional director that he was asking for the sun, the moon and the stars. Mr. Nordstrom’s reply was “the Taliban is on the inside of the building.”
Update: Some of the memos have been released and can be seen by following this link and going to “other documents” on the bottom right.