Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Air Algerie investigation continues

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Dozens of youths trampled to death on Conakry beach

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola death toll tops 700

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

UNRWA official breaks down over Gaza deaths

Read more

DEBATE

Argentina Defaults - Kirchner Cries Foul Over 'Vulture Funds' (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Argentina Defaults - Kirchner Cries Foul Over 'Vulture Funds'

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Renault's women drivers ad deemed sexist

Read more

FOCUS

Constitution prohibits Aung San Suu Kyi to run for president

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

War and Markets, with Steen Jakobsen, Chief Economist at Saxo Bank

Read more

  • Israel and Hamas 72-hour ceasefire begins

    Read more

  • 24 killed¸ 271 injured in South Taiwan gas blast

    Read more

  • Interactive: France’s new plan to counter jihadism in Africa

    Read more

  • Regional summit to tackle deadly Ebola outbreak

    Read more

  • Argentinian markets plummet following default

    Read more

  • French Jews speak of growing fear in Paris amid Gaza conflict

    Read more

  • Video: Inside Hamas ‘terror’ tunnels in Gaza

    Read more

  • Sierra Leone declares state of emergency over spread of Ebola

    Read more

  • Investigators reach MH17 site amid 24-hour ceasefire

    Read more

  • France remembers murdered socialist hero Jean Jaurès

    Read more

  • Air France ground workers to strike on August 2

    Read more

  • Scores feared dead in India landslide

    Read more

  • Russia ordered to pay further €1.9 billion to Yukos shareholders

    Read more

  • Iraq's Christians: Nowhere to Run?

    Read more

  • Russia defiant as US, EU unveil 'phase three' sanctions

    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)