Memo: US State Department knew months before of danger in Benghazi

Font Size:

According to a memo released by the State Department, the US knew two months before the fatal attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya of the significant threat to American lives surrounding the anniversary of September 11.

“The risk of U.S. Mission personnel, private U.S. citizens and businesspersons encountering an isolating event as a result of militia or political violence is HIGH,” the July 22 security assessment stated.

Weeks before September 11, the State Department withdrew U.S. security staff from Libya, staff that could have prevented the death of Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

According to the Associated Press, Eric A Nordstrom, the department’s former regional security officer, wrote in an email on October 1 of the Libyan government’s “inability to secure and protect diplomatic missions.”

“The government of Libya does not yet have the ability to effectively respond to and manage the rising criminal and militia violence, which could result in an isolating event,” Nordstrom’s email said, adding the Libyan government “was overwhelmed and could not guarantee our protection.”

“Sadly, that point was reaffirmed on Sept. 11, 2012, in Benghazi,” Nordstrom said.

Nordstrom’s email and the State Department security assessment were two of 230 alleged security threats between June 2011 and July 2012 released by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issaa before the hearing, at which Nordstrom is set to testify.

“There was a clear disconnect between what security officials on the ground felt they needed and what officials in Washington would approve,” Issa said Tuesday.

“Reports that senior State Department officials told security personnel in Libya to not even make certain security requests are especially troubling,” Issa said.

Earlier in September, controversy surrounded the release and subsequent removal of a governmental report of the terrorism threat level on the anniversary of September 11. Since posted on September 6, the report has been removed from the listings of global security reports.

“What increasingly looks like an attempt to obscure the failures that took place, [what] some are calling a cover up, is itself a very serious matter,” said Charles Lipson, Peter B. Ritzma Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago.

“The high point of the cover-up was sending Susan Rice out to either deliberately or by her own information misdirect the public,” Lipson told The Daily Caller.

“The administration’s most serious failure in holding its own story together was when they began [to draw in] the intelligence community,” Lipson said, “because the intelligence community has all those documents and knows when it released them… they’re not going to take the fall.”

Officials in the State Department are slated to answer questions today about what the agency knew about the terror threats surrounding the anniversary of the September 11 attack that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

Follow Samantha on Twitter