While the report was mostly filled with reports of violence and warnings of dubious security, Stevens did relate one meeting he had with local business leaders who tried to make the case for increased U.S. investment in Benghazi. The businessmen argued that “despite the challenges… the security situation was improving,” the cable said before rattling off a laundry list of recent violence.
One of the reasons Stevens apparently risked going from the more fortified embassy in Tripoli to Benghazi was also detailed in the cable: Stevens planned to unveil a new U.S. project in Benghazi to enhance “cultural and education outreach by U.S. Mission Libya.”
Investigators also have zeroed in on another reason for his trip, an evening meeting with a Turkish diplomat that ended shortly before the attack. Stevens apparently had befriended the diplomat on earlier assignments and the two corresponded as early as August about the possibility of meeting in Benghazi.
The official State Department review board report on the Benghazi tragedy, released last month, carefully danced around the reasons for Stevens’ willingness to take the risk of going to the less-secure compound in Benghazi on the anniversary of Sept. 11 terror attacks, saying only that ambassadors were afforded great latitude in deciding their movements and schedules.
The report, however, was far more direct in accusing the State Department of failing to assess the security situation in Benghazi and providing adequate protections.
“Systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department (the “Department”) resulted in a Special Mission security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place,” the review board concluded.
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