A top White House official met with the president of Libya in Tripoli on Wednesday and “accepted condolences” for the deaths of four Americans last month in a terrorist attack on a U.S. Consulate there.
The visit of John Brennan, President Obama’s assistant for homeland security and counter-terrorism, came as a House panel opened a hearing into lax security at the consulate in the Libyan city of Banghazi where Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed. The State Department acknowledged Tuesday night for the first time that the attack on Sept. 11 was not part of a larger protest against a U.S.-made film disparaging Islam, as the Obama administration first claimed.
Mr. Brennan discussed with Libyan government officials “specific additional steps Libya can take to better assist the U.S. in ensuring that the perpetrators are brought to justice” for the killings in Benghazi.
“Both sides reaffirmed their strong commitment to countering terrorism and violent extremism,” White House National Security spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement. “Mr. Brennan encouraged Libyan officials to move quickly on refining their policies and advancing government capabilities in the security and justice sectors, and urged Libya to take full and timely advantage of specific offers of assistance from the United States and other international partners.”
Eric Nordstrom, who headed diplomatic security in Libya until June, is set to testify Wednesday that he made two requests to Washington for additional security personnel to be posted at the Benghazi consulate, but received no response.
Senior State Department officials now say the Sept. 11 evening was a quiet one in Benghazi that became very suddenly violent about 9:40 p.m. when officials at the compound heard “gunfire and explosions.” That runs counter to the administration’s evolving explanations, which included the claim that terrorists took advantage of a general anti-U.S. protest to carry out the assault.