Posted on Thursday, 11 October 2012 11:25

US-Libya: A lowdown on Bengazi's September 11 attacks

The suspected militia responsible for the attack on the US Embassy, Ansar al-Sharia has since been chased out of its Benghazi headquarters and its military bases/Photo©ReutersRequests to extend the deployment of a military team to protect the late United States ambassador in Libya Chris Stevens were rejected by the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the former chief security officer for the American Embassy in Libya has revealed.


Speaking on Wednesday at the hearing by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Eric A. Nordstrom, who served as the regional security officer for the embassy said he was told in a phone call in July that the deployment of a 16-member American military unit based in Tripoli, could not be prolonged.

Evidence presented before the hearing revealed that the Africa Military Command which oversaw the Tripoli-based American security unit, was supposed to extend the deployment, but the State Department decided that it was not necessary.

Stevens and three other Americans were killed on September 11, in Benghazi after a radical Islamist militia capitalised on the anti-Islam-film protests that had arisen to invade and attack the embassy.

"It was abundantly clear: we were not going to get resources until the aftermath of an incident?" Nordstrom stated.

Lt. Col. Andrew Wood of the Utah National Guard, the leader of the team, which wrapped up its deployment in August backed Nordstrom's statement saying: "The security in Benghazi was a struggle and remained a struggle throughout my time there."

According to the evidence presented, five American security agents were at the compound at the time of the attack.

However, the hearing failed to establish what it might have taken to repel the attack on the American embassy even if the American military team had been deployed to the Benghazi compound. This position was articulated by the State Department.

Patrick Kennedy, the State Department's under-secretary for management suggested that none of the steps Nordstrom or Col. Wood had proposed would have altered the bloody outcome.

Also, Charlene Lamb, a deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security attacked Nordstrom's claims saying it was not more than a recommendation and that the State Department had been right not to heed it.

According to the State Department, the plan had been to phase out the use of the American military team and rely more on the Libyan militiamen who were protecting the compound along with a small number of American security officers.

The suspected militia responsible for the attack, Ansar al-Sharia has since been chased out of its Benghazi headquarters and its military bases.

Ansar al-Sharia is one of several armed militias that helped oust Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi — and which the current transitional government had come to rely on to help keep the peace.

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