Friday, October 19, 2012

Criminal Negligence: Benghazi Files Part 1

I'm going to undertake to read through the files dropped today regarding Ambassador Stevens' repeated requests for additional security, as well as the overwhelming evidence such security was a) needed and b) known to be needed.  We'll take this in chunks.

The first document, covering pages 1 - 4 is a request from NEA Jeffery Feltman to yield their lease on one of three buildings for the Benghazi consulate.  Little is of interest to me here except the following notes:

Important here is on the first page: "Because of budget constraints and reduced footprint, Diplomatic Security's current presence consists of two Special Agents, with an additional three slots currently unfilled."

That was on December 27, 2011.

The next set of documents, from pages 5 - 8 is a chain of emails starting on November, 30 2011.  November. Of. 2011.

You have to read from page 8 up to page 5 to follow the whole thing.  Please do.

The first email is from Eric Nordstrom to Kathleen Hill, and Joan Polaschik, cc: Bryan Scruggs.  It is an advisory message that one of (then) three security agents would be leaving in December, and that there were no available replacements.  This would take the security detail down to two.  That advisory is then follwed up with a question: are we leaving, or are we going to "be at this level for some time?"  Note there is no assumption that they would increase security.

The second email is a reply from Kathleen Hill back to Mr. Nordstrom.  It says that Chris Stevens had planned on continuing 3 - 5 security personnel at Benghazi, not two.

The next email isn't until February 11, 2012.  The very first sentence indicates it is actually a re-forward of the previous two emails.  Shawn Crowley asks several recipients for additional security resources, reminding them that the Benghazi site is down to two.

On the same day (2/11/2012) Karen Keshap forwarded to lee Lohman a reply from Mr. Nordstrom.  That reply contains the following:
While the status of Benghazi remains undefined, DS is hesitant to devout (sic) resources and as I indicated previously, this has severely hampered operations in Benghazi.

He then mentions that the too low security also means their staff cannot leave the site, which is hampering specific operations regarding reporting.

Email 5 is a short request from Mr. Lohamn to a Charlene Lamb (the next day) asking her to speak to him.  The reason?  "I suspect the NEA Front Office will react if the reporting stops."  No mention of "hey, we don't have enough security."  Nope, it's all about the reporting.

Email 6 is from James Bacigalupo to Mr. Nordstrom containing all the previous emails asking him, on Feb 12, to call as he is "surprised at [Nordstrom's] statement that 'DS is hesitant to devote resources and as I (you) have indicated previously that has severely limited operations in Benghazi'."

Now, I've sent emails like that before.  They're "Oh, Crap, I'm about to get called on the carpet." Emails.

Almost immediately (we're now onto the 12th) Mr. Nordstrom replies, in part:
I've been placed in a very difficult spot when the Ambassador tells me that I need to support Benghazi but can't direct MSD there and been advised that DS isn't going to provide more than 3 DS agents over there long term.

The final email is also from Mr. Nordstrom, containing all the above and says simply:
See attached, the last time we had only 2 agents at post, suspending outside movements for approximately 10 days.

What these emails show is the need for extra security.  They show the limits that Ambassador Stevens was under in Tripoli, and therefore had to place on Benghazi.  It is clear from these emails that those States-Side were more concerned with their precious reports than with finding actual solutions for the Libyan mission.

To Be Continued in Part 2


  1. Document dated--

    July 9, 2012

    Subject Request for extension of TDY Security Personnel

    1. (SBU) Summary and Action Request: Embassy Tripoli requests continued TDY security support for an additional 60-day, through mid-September 2012.

    [...] while Post has made number of procedural security enhancements and security upgrades, our efforts to normalize security operations have been hindered by the host nation in security support, either static or response, an increase in foreign targets, and [unreadable] delays in issuing firearms permits for our LES close protection bodyguard unit.

    [unreadable]security upgrades to improve both the temporary Embassy and [unreadable] recognizing the growing challenges to Libya's fragile security environment the Department increased Post's danger pay allowance from [?] to [?] percent.


    6.(SBU) [...]Permits for the first 11 LES close protection team took more than 2 months and required Ambassadorial intervention with the Minister of the Interior. While post anticipates a quicker response with this next runs of permits, recruitment efforts of qualified applicants for the remaining CPT positions remains slow.


    TDY means Temporary Duty Assignment--and applies to the American security.

    this by the way is the country we were giving 1.5 billion in aid to.

    1.5 billion and they can't issue permits.

    1. Is that in the document dump? If so, I'll get to it. I can only get through so much at a time.

  2. Yep--Dated July 9th.

    I don't know id the docs are searchable . I kind of doubt that they are.


  3. I'm off to dinner but just had to post this to get it al in one place--


    Aug. 8, 2012 email

    Ambassador Stevens-

    (SBU) Comment: The SSC has increased its presence in the wake of the most recent string of security incidents in Benghazi. This approach is all authorities can do at the present. But it is not clear whether it will prove to be effective. What we have seen are not random crimes of opportunity , but rather targeted and discriminate attacks. Attackers are unlikely to be deterred until authorities are at least capable. End comment.


    Particularly heart rending because we now know it was not effective and he paid with his life--even though he did his best to prevent it.

    Ugh--anyways thanks for doing tho Allen.