Former Department of State Libyan Regional Security Officer Eric Nordstrom told a House committee that his request for additional security at the U.S. Embassy in Libya, made prior to the attack that claimed the lives of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, was denied.
He recalled telling Bureau of Diplomatic Security Regional Director Jim Bacigalupo that he felt the Taliban was “on the inside of the building.”
“Actually had that conversation when I came back on leave, and for training in February, and I was told by the regional director for Near Eastern affairs that there had only been one incident involving an American, where he was struck by celebratory fire. It was one of Colonel Wood’s employees,” Nordstrom told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday.
“The takeaway from that for me and my staff: It was abundantly clear we were not going to get resources until the aftermath of an incident. And the question that we would ask is, again, how thin does the ice have to get before someone falls through?”
Former State Department Site Security Team Commander Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Wood said “we were fighting a losing battle,” adding that his team “couldn’t even keep what [the security] we had. We were not even allowed to keep what we had.”
“I told the same regional director in a telephone call in Benghazi after he contacted me when I asked for 12 agents,” Nordstrom said. “His response to that was, you’re asking for the sun, moon and the stars and my response to him — his name’s Jim — I said, ‘Jim, you know what makes — most frustrating about this assignment? It’s not the hardships, it’s not the gunfire, it’s not the threats,’” Nordstrom said. “’It’s dealing and fighting against the people, programs and personnel who are supposed to be supporting me,’ and I added it by saying, ‘For me, the Taliban is on the inside of the building.’”