Officials to House panel: State denied requests for more security in Benghazi

October 11, 2012

By Jordy Yager and Julian Pecquet -The Hill

State Department and military officials painted a horrific picture for lawmakers on Wednesday as they detailed a series of refused requests for added security at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Testifying before the House, the officials said they were denied multiple requests for more protection at the consulate, which was attacked last month on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, killing the U.S. ambassador and three others diplomats.

“The takeaway… for me and my staff, was abundantly clear — we were not going to get resources until the aftermath of an incident,” said Eric Nordstrom, a regional security officer overseeing the State Department’s personnel and facilities in Libya.

“And the question that we would ask is: how thin does the ice have to get before someone falls through?”

The Army’s Lt. Col. Andy Wood, who led a 16-person security team in Libya for six months, echoed Nordstrom’s remarks, telling members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that he equated officials who oversaw U.S. operations in Libya with the Taliban, because they did so much damage to the safety of Americans in the region.

“You know what’s the most frustrating [thing] about this assignment,” Wood recalled telling his boss at the time. “It’s not the hardships; it’s not the gunfire; it’s not the threats.

“It’s dealing and fighting against the people, programmers, and personnel who are supposed to be supporting me,” he said. “For me, the Taliban is on the inside of the building.”

Republicans have pointed to comments by the two whistleblowers as evidence that the administration did not respond to the consulate’s fear of being attacked.

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