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House Committee: Washington Denied More Security For Libyan Consulate

The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi after an attack by an armed group.
Esam Omran Al-Fetori
Reuters /Landov
The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi after an attack by an armed group.

Before the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, the U.S. mission had made "repeated requests" for more security at the compound.

According to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform those requests by U.S. mission in Libya were denied by "officials in Washington."

The revelation comes in a letter sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from Republican committee member Rep. Jason Chaffetz and the Republican chair Rep. Darrell Issa.

"Based on information provided to the committee by individuals with direct knowledge of the events in Libya, the attack that claimed the ambassador's life was the latest in a long line of attacks on Western diplomats and officials in Libya in the months leading up to Sept. 11, 2012," the lawmakers write. "It was clearly never, as administration officials once insisted, the result of a popular protest."

The letter goes on to detail a series of violent events dating back to April of 2012. In one incident, two RPG rounds were fired at the Benghazi office of the Red Cross. In another in June, "assailants placed an IED on the north gate of Consulate Benghazi, blowing a hole in the security perimeter."

The lawmakers also allege that Stevens was threatened in June. On a pro-Ghadafi Facebook page, a posting directed users to attack Stevens during one of his morning runs through Tripoli.

Ultimately, Issa and Chaffetz are asking the State Department for more information, including what requests were made by the embassy in Tripoli and how State responded to them.

Update at 1:49 p.m. ET. Clinton Will Respond Today:

During her daily press briefing, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will respond to the letter today.

"Her letter will make absolutely clear the desire of this department, her personal desire to cooperate closely with the committee and with all members of Congress," Nuland said.

Nuland said the administration has the same goal as the committee, which is to "to get to the bottom of this."

Reporters asked Nuland to say more about the requests made by the embassy in Tripoli, but Nuland said she was not in the position to answer questions about "specific requests."

Update at 1:21 p.m. ET. No Comment:

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney just finished a press gaggle in Las Vegas. According to ABC News, Carney said he had no comment on the letter from Issa and Chaffetz.

"I'm not going to get into a situation under review by the State Department and the FBI," Carney told reporters.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.