- Blame Bush: 5 years later, that’s still the mantra, pollsters find
- Dutch prostitutes demand same retirement benefits as soccer stars
- John McCain to Harry Reid: I’ll ‘kick the crap’ out of you
- Dogs that talk: Researchers seek $10K for ‘No More Woof’ technology
- 1,000 firefighters called to battle stubborn Big Sur wildfire
- Black Friday brouhaha: Millions of Target shoppers hit by credit card theft
- Britain orders airplane to rescue citizens from violent South Sudan
- Mega Millions winner emerges as Georgia mom, in ‘disbelief’
- ‘Duck Dynasty’ Phil Robertson suspended ‘indefinitely’ for gay quip
- John Podesta eats crow: ‘I apologize to Speaker Boehner’
Ambassador Stevens warned of Islamic extremism before Benghazi consulate attack
Question of the Day
In a diplomatic cable in June, the U.S. ambassador to Libya cited the rise of “Islamic extremism” and displays of “the Al-Qaeda flag” over buildings outside the city of Benghazi, where he and three other Americans would be killed in a terrorist attack on Sept. 11.
The previously classified cable is among 166 documents made public Friday by Rep. Darrell E. Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who says they expose an egregious security shortage at U.S. diplomatic missions in Libya in the months before the attack.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the committee’s ranking Democrat, criticized the Issa letter as an “undeniably partisan” attempt to politicize the incident before Monday’s presidential debate on foreign policy between President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
The documents include a June 25 cable in which Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens cited an uptick in attacks in Libya “targeting international organizations and foreign interests.” He noted an attack that month on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, where a homemade bomb ripped a hole in a security wall.
That little-reported attack took place just three months before the military-style assault that killed Stevens. In his cable, he said “an Islamic extremist group, ‘the Imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman Brigade‘” claimed responsibility for the bombing.
The so-called “Blind Sheikh,” Abdel-Rahman is serving a life sentence in the U.S. for plotting to blow up the U.N. headquarters, major bridges and tunnels in New York.
Stevens made no reference of any American attempt to investigate the June attack.
“Libyan security officials purport to have launched investigations,” he wrote, adding that a Libyan security official had “shared his private opinion that the attacks were the work of extremists who are opposed to Western influence in Libya.”
“A number of local contacts agreed, noting that Islamic extremism appears to be on the rise in eastern Libya and that the Al-Qaeda flag has been spotted several times flying over government buildings and training facilities” about 100 miles east of Benghazi, Stevens wrote.
He added, however, that other contacts said the June attack also could have been the work of loyalists to ousted Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
Other cables cited ongoing concerns about security.
On Sept. 11, just hours before he was killed, Stevens noted that a local Libyan commander in Benghazi had “expressed growing frustration with police and security forces (who were too weak to keep the country secure) …”
Other documents shed light on exchanges between State Department personnel over security.
One from February features an email in which foreign service officer Shawn P. Crowley wrote to Eric A. Nordstrom, then-chief security officer at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, and others about the “lack of security” at the consulate in Benghazi.
“Apologies for being a broken record, but beginning tomorrow, Benghazi will be down two agents,” Mr. Crowley wrote, noting that “we have no drivers and new local guard contract employees have no experience driving armored vehicles.”
The State Department declined to comment on the documents.
In an email to The Washington Times, State Department spokesman Mark Toner pointed to the department’s recent establishment of an Accountability Review Board to review last month’s attack.
“An independent board is conducting a thorough review of the assault on our post in Benghazi,” he said. “Once we have the board’s comprehensive account of what happened, findings and recommendations, we can fully address these matters.”
Sen. John F. Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, criticized Mr. Issa’s release of the State Department cables, saying it was “irresponsible and inexcusable.”
The Obama administration also has criticized the release of the documents, saying it damages security agreements with militias in Libya and investigations into the fatal attack.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Guy Taylor rejoined The Washington Times in 2011 as the State Department correspondent.
As a freelance journalist, Taylor’s work was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and the Fund For Investigative Journalism, and his stories appeared in a variety publications, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to Salon, Reason, Prospect Magazine of London, the Daily Star of Beirut, the ...
- State Department adds two to terrorist list, notes al Qaeda splits
- U.S. adds al Qaeda-linked Lebanon militant leader to global terrorist list
- Number of journalists kidnapped more than doubled in 2013: report
- China growing 'more concerned' about North Korea, former top U.S. diplomat says
- U.S. downplays Saudi prince's criticism of Obama's Middle East policies
Latest Blog Entries
By Andrew P. Napolitano
Fourth Amendment says Obama is not at liberty to collect metadata
- Gov't wasted $30 billion on 'pillownauts,' crystal goblets -- buying human urine!
- Half of America strips religion from Christmas
- Obamacare 'pajamas boy' gets roundly mocked
- Duck Dynasty Phil Robertson suspended indefinitely for gay quip
- In court filing, NCAA denies legal duty to protect athletes
- Bill Gates: The Secret Santa disguised as a 'friendly fellow' on Reddit
- U.S. Army mulls wiping out memory of Robert E. Lee, 'Stonewall' Jackson
- Border Patrol helps smuggle illegal immigrant children into the U.S.
- NAPOLITANO: NSA spies pick up interference from the Constitution
- John McCain to Harry Reid: Ill kick the crap out of you
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness from the carpool lane.
Politics, economics, and business from a real world perspective.
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow