WASHINGTON, Oct 2, 2012 (AFP) -
WASHINGTON, Oct 2, 2012 (AFP) –
Washington denied “repeated requests” for more security at the consulate in Benghazi, Libya prior to last month’s deadly attack, a top Republican watchdog in Congress said Tuesday.
Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, demanded answers from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about an apparent lack of sufficient protections at the facility.
“Multiple US federal government officials have confirmed to the committee that, prior to the September 11 attack, the US mission in Libya made repeated requests for increased security in Benghazi,” Issa said in a letter to Clinton.
“The mission in Libya, however, was denied these resources in Washington.”
The US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans were killed when the Benghazi consulate came under attack on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
Issa asked what measures, if any, the State Department had taken to boost security at the US mission in Libya following a months-long series of attacks and threats against or near US facilities or personnel.
Issa said his committee was convening a hearing on October 10 “to consider the security situation in Benghazi leading up to the September 11 attack,” and State Department security assessments and decision-making.
The lawmaker said the Benghazi unrest “was the latest in a long line of attacks on Western diplomats and officials in Libya in the months leading up to September 11, 2012.”
Precisely who was behind the attack that killed Stevens and members of his staff remains under investigation but Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has come under intense scrutiny, two officials said.
The Al-Qaeda franchise called on Muslims to storm other US embassies in North Africa and kill American envoys days after the assault on the Benghazi mission, in which gunmen kept security teams at bay for hours and fired rocket-propelled grenades.
Initially, US officials said the assault in Benghazi, which came on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States, was a spontaneous demonstration whipped by outrage over an anti-Muslim film made on US soil.
But they are now describing the incident as terrorism with possible links to Al-Qaeda, fueling Republican claims that the Obama administration mounted a cover-up to preserve the president’s favorable ratings on national security.
Republican Senator John McCain said recently that the administration’s narrative did not pass the “smell test.”
“It was either willful ignorance or abysmal intelligence to think that people come to spontaneous demonstrations with heavy weapons, mortars and the attack goes on for hours,” he said.