Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Netanyahu deletes tweet featuring photo of James Foley

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 22 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 22 August 2014

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Read more

FOCUS

Lifting the veil over China's air pollution

Read more

ENCORE!

Tango Takeover in Paris

Read more

WEB NEWS

Calls for ISIS media blackout after execution of James Foley

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Steely resolve of reporters exploited by pared-down employers'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

US judge calls Argentina bond swap offer illegal

Read more

  • French teenage girls held over Syria jihad plans

    Read more

  • Good borders make good neighbours, Merkel tells Ukraine

    Read more

  • Iceland issues aviation alert on volcano activity

    Read more

  • France will not be 'be pushed around' by Germany

    Read more

  • Libya withdraws as Africa Cup of Nations host

    Read more

  • ‘European GPS’ satellites launched into wrong orbit

    Read more

  • Suicide bomber targets Iraq intelligence HQ in deadly attack

    Read more

  • Video: Israel bombs kidnapping suspect’s home

    Read more

  • US brands journalist’s beheading a ‘terrorist attack’

    Read more

  • Ebola prompts Philippines to recall UN troops in Liberia

    Read more

  • Besieged by problems, Hollande faces unhappy return from summer holidays

    Read more

  • US sued over ‘deportation mill’ in New Mexico

    Read more

  • Colombian army and FARC rebels in face-to-face talks

    Read more

  • US National Guard starts to pull out of embattled Ferguson

    Read more

  • PSG fall flat once more against Evian

    Read more

  • US job market yet to recover from recession, says Fed Chair

    Read more

  • August 22, 1914: The bloodiest day in French military history

    Read more

  • Fear of Ebola sky-high among Air France workers

    Read more

Americas

Benghazi consulate security ‘weak’ before attack

© AFP

Latest update : 2012-10-11

The former head of a US military team in Libya told lawmakers on Wednesday that the consulate in Benghazi, where US ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed on September 11, never had the forces it needed to protect itself.

“The security in Benghazi was a struggle and remained a struggle throughout my time there ... Diplomatic security remained weak,” Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Wood told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in written testimony.

“The RSO (regional security officer) struggled to obtain additional personnel there (in Benghazi), but was never able to attain the numbers he felt comfortable with,” Wood said.

Wood served as the Site Security Team (SST) commander in Libya from Feb. 12 to Aug. 14, until just about a month before the attack on the diplomatic post in Benghazi. His testimony was distributed before the noon (1600 GMT) start of the hearing.

The panel is examining security at the U.S. mission in Benghazi ahead of the Sept. 11 attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. The hearing is Congress’ first public examination of what went wrong at the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi.

Republican charges that the United States was caught unprepared for the assault has put the administration of President Barack Obama, a Democrat, on the defensive in the run-up to the Nov. 6 presidential election.

The State Department has defended security procedures in Libya and convened its own review board.

Wood said when he arrived in Libya there were three teams of U.S. diplomatic security agents on the ground.

Stevens’ predecessor as ambassador, Gene Cretz, “was confronted with having to lose one of these (teams) and requested an equal number of regular diplomatic security agents,” Wood said.

The ambassador also struggled with getting Wood’s security group renewed to stay in the country beyond April 5, he said. Ultimately they did not leave until August, he said.

A second security team was withdrawn soon after Cretz left the country in the spring, and the third “was restricted from performing security work and limited to only training local guard force members in July,” Wood said. Then that team too was withdrawn about the same time the SST’s work was terminated, which was in August, he said.

‘Artificially low’


Another former U.S. security officer in Libya, Eric Nordstrom, has told the committee in a private interview that a State Department official, Charlene Lamb, wanted to keep the number of security personnel in Benghazi “artificially low.”

Both Lamb, the deputy secretary of state for international programs, and Nordstrom are scheduled to testify on Wednesday, along with Patrick Kennedy, the under secretary of state for management.

“I want to be clear: The Department of State regularly assesses risk and allocation of resources for security; a process which involves the considered judgments of experienced professionals on the ground and in Washington, using the best information available,” Kennedy said in his prepared testimony.

“The assault that occurred on the evening of September 11, however, was an unprecedented attack by dozens of heavily armed men,” he said.

“We must continue deploying our diplomats and development professionals to dangerous places like Benghazi. There is no other alternative,” Kennedy said.

Wood is a member of the Utah National Guard, with 24 years of service as a special forces soldier. He said that when he heard of Stevens’ death and the congressional inquiry, he identified himself to congressional staff as someone with intimate knowledge of the security situation before the attack.

“The killing of a U.S. ambassador is a rare and extraordinary thing and requires our attention as a people,” he said. “As a citizen I made the determination that this outweighs all other interests and will risk whatever circumstances may result from my testimony.”

The top U.S. intelligence authority, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, has said the Benghazi attack was an organized terrorist assault, but the attackers have not been identified.

(REUTERS)

Date created : 2012-10-10

  • US-LIBYA

    ‘No warning’ before Benghazi consulate attack

    Read more

  • LIBYA

    Libyan army replaces Benghazi militia chiefs

    Read more

  • LIBYA

    Protesters oust Islamist militia from Benghazi

    Read more

COMMENT(S)