THE JEENYUS CORNER
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. security officer twice asked his State Department superiors for more security agents for the American mission in Benghazi months before an attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, but he got no response.
The officer, Eric Nordstrom, who was based in Tripoli until about two months before the September attack, said a State Department official, Charlene Lamb, wanted to keep the number of U.S. security personnel in Benghazi “artificially low,” according to a memo summarizing his comments to a congressional committee that was obtained by Reuters.
Nordstrom also argued for more U.S. security in Libya by citing a chronology of over 200 security incidents there from militia gunfights to bomb attacks between June 2011 and July 2012. Forty-eight of the incidents were in Benghazi.
A brief summary of Nordstrom’s October 1 interview with the Republican-controlled House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was contained in a memo prepared by the committee’s minority Democratic staff.
Nordstrom’s actions and those of his superiors are likely to figure prominently in a House committee hearing on Wednesday that will be Congress’ first public examination of what went wrong at the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi.
The State Department has defended security procedures in Libya and convened its own independent review board. A State Department official declined to comment on what Nordstrom told lawmakers in private, noting that Nordstrom would testify at the public hearing on Wednesday and “that’s something that will come out in the hearing.”
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