Unearthing the Facts About Benghazi
Yesterday the House Oversight Committee held a hearing with State Department officials in an attempt to get to the bottom of both what happened in Benghazi leading up to the attack and to determine why there was such reluctance on the part of the State Department to provide accurate, truthful information after the attack.
And an intense line of questioning it was. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the committee, was determined to unearth the necessary information. One of Rep. Issa’s major concerns was that, according to one of the testimonies, hazardous duty pay was increased at the same time that security was decreased. He suggested that this sends the message that the U.S. government was aware of an increased risk, but did not respond accordingly by increasing security.
Heritage’s James Phillips explains the two distinct perspectives offered during the testimonies:
“Although two high-ranking State Department officials—who had not visited Libya—defended the security arrangements in place there, two whistleblowers, who had been deployed to Libya to provide security to American diplomats, strongly argued that more resources should have been allocated to bolster security in an increasingly threatening environment.”
In light of the dangerous environment, allocating insufficient resources for security was clearly problematic. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) elicited information from Lt. Col. Wood about the large number of attacks in Libya in the months prior to the attack on the U.S. Consulate including attacks on the Red Cross and the British Consulate. Wood suggested that we were “the last thing on their target list to remove from Benghazi.”
The tragedy is that the U.S. should not have had to learn lessons the hard way about appropriate levels of security in Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East. Although the government has not procured all the necessary information, it is clear that the administration and the State Department failed on a number of levels.
James Phillips suggests that in the future, those who are in positions of power in this country should not ignore clear indications that an act of terror is likely to occur. He explains the need for “a comprehensive counterterrorism policy that recognizes the nature of the terrorist threat and proactively addresses it,” and Heritage has developed a counterterrorism strategy.
For the sake of our service men and women abroad, hopefully the administration will at long last take heed.