Analysis

Libya: Benghazi Consulate Security Woefully Inadequate
Undated photo of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi released on October 10 on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee website.
October 11, 2012
| Security
| Middle East and North Africa
Summary
Congressional testimony about poor security at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi yesterday appeared to change the terms of the debate over the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack that resulted in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. The testimony by career State Department and defense personnel was compelling and appeared to point to major shortcomings in U.S. diplomatic security as well as policy problems facing the United States and its European allies in the Arab world due to the downside of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.

Yesterday’s hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform added to a growing political firestorm in Washington over the initial – and now discredited – contention by Obama administration officials that last month’s attack on the Benghazi consulate was spontaneous, in response to an anti-Muslim video, and that extremists took advantage of a peaceful demonstration to attack the Benghazi compound. While most Obama officials have backed away from this explanation, the State Department, in an unusual phone briefing with reporters the evening before the hearing, made the stunning admission that there were no protests outside the consulate and that nearby streets were “calm” prior to the September 11 attack.

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