The Right-Wing's Most Brazen Lie of the Election -- Debunked
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...The military diverted a Predator drone from a reconnaissance mission in Darnah, 90 miles away, in time to oversee the mission’s evacuation. The two commandos, based at the embassy in Tripoli, joined the reinforcements. And a military transport plane flew the wounded Americans and Mr. Stevens’s body out of Libya.
One of the serious questions raised by the tragedy is why security wasn't more extensive in Benghazi just months removed from Libya's civil war. A number of breathless reports in the conservative media have suggested that the administration received requests to beef up security at the consulate but turned them down. Setting aside the simple fact that such a detail would be handled far down the food chain from the president of the United States, it's also not true.
Eric Schmitt and Mark Landler reported for the New York Times that officials were more worried about our embassy in Tripoli than our consulate in Benghazi – a city that was targeted by destruction by Gaddhafi's army and spared when the U.S. and 18 other states intervened last March. They write:
In a stream of diplomatic cables, embassy security officers warned their superiors at the State Department of a worsening threat from Islamic extremists, and requested that the teams of military personnel and State Department security guards who were already on duty be kept in service.
The requests were denied, but they were largely focused on extending the tours of security guards at the American Embassy in Tripoli — not at the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, 400 miles away. And State Department officials testified this week during a hearing by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that extending the tour of additional guards — a 16-member military security team — through mid-September would not have changed the bloody outcome because they were based in Tripoli, not Benghazi.
Adam Entous, Siobhan Gorman and Margaret Coker added additional details in the Wall Street Journal. They explained that our consulate in Benghazi was effectively a CIA station, and that one of the reasons a fuller accounting of the events that night was slow to emerge is that CIA head David Petraeus didn't want to divulge details about the CIA's station in Benghazi.
The U.S. effort in Benghazi was at its heart a CIA operation, according to officials briefed on the intelligence. Of the more than 30 American officials evacuated from Benghazi following the deadly assault, only seven worked for the State Department. Nearly all the rest worked for the CIA, under diplomatic cover, which was a principal purpose of the consulate, these officials said.
The CIA's secret role helps explain why security appeared inadequate at the U.S. diplomatic facility. State Department officials believed that responsibility was set to be shouldered in part by CIA personnel in the city through a series of secret agreements that even some officials in Washington didn't know about...
In Libya, the relationship between the State Department and CIA was secret and symbiotic: The consulate provided diplomatic cover for the classified CIA operations. The State Department believed it had a formal agreement with the CIA to provide backup security, although a congressional investigator said it now appears the CIA didn't have the same understanding about its security responsibilities....
Among U.S. diplomatic officials in Libya, the nearby CIA force and the secret agreement allayed concerns about security levels.
"They were the cavalry," a senior U.S. official said of the CIA team, adding that CIA's backup security was an important factor in State's decision to maintain a consulate there.