US State Department lacks any cyber-security whatsoever, including no passwords needed (Repost from Oct 2013)

Editors Note: (Ralph Turchiano)- Requested Repost from Oct 2103

 Published time: October 28, 2013 02:01                                                                            

Reuters / Jim Young

Access classified data without authorization, use your account after you’ve been fired, or anonymously request a new account for an Afghan friend – these are just some of the features available in State Department’s SMART system, BuzzFeed reports.

In the wake of the Manning and Snowden classified US intelligence  leaks, internal documents obtained by Buzz Feed reveal that the  US State Departments’ security systems are vulnerable if not  providing open access to classified information.

The breaches in security, horrifying to any IT expert, are  reported in the State Messaging and Archival Toolset (SMART) – a  cable and messaging system which is based on MS Outlook. The  SMART operates with working emails and cables, stored both in  classified (ClassNet) and unclassified (OpenNet) enclaves.

SMART was initially created for improving information sharing  after the 9/11 attacks. The internal messaging application has  been built and maintained by a team of State Department employees  and IT contractors under the $2.5 billion Vanguard  contract.

It became fully operational in September 2008 under US State  Secretary Hillary Clinton. However, it turns out the system never  complied with all the requirements of the Federal Information  Security Management Act and the National Institute of Standards  and Technology requirements, according to a 2010 Office of  Inspector General (OIG) report.

Failing to provide enough cyber protection, the system regularly  received failing or below-failing grades from its internal  monitoring system, according to documents obtained by BuzzFeed.

The SMART’s monitoring system, deployed for the purpose of  determining whether there has been unauthorized access or  modification of files, frequently fails to perform any of that,  the report said. And with an existing backdoor between the  classified and non-classified enclaves, state secrets can be  accessed by a user without proper clearance, even  unintentionally, BuzzFeed writes.

Access restriction is in fact one of the biggest problems with  SMART, it’s well-known but one nobody is willing to fix.

According to the report, in 2012 three SMART accounts were  created for users in Kabul, Afghanistan. Internal audit had shown  no one has any idea of who requested their creation or was using  them. Since then the mystical accounts have been deleted, but no  results on possible unauthorized activities via them have been  made public.

Reuters / Kacper Pempel

That unauthorized access was not an isolated incident. According  to the report accounts for former employees remain active for  some time after they leave. In addition the State Department can  only guess about the number of contractors who have access to the  system, and whether those contractors have gone through proper  security checks.

In some cases, the computer systems also allowed access to data  to unregistered users through anonymous unsecured access points  with default credentials.

Currently, the database has no hashing, time-stamping, or other  capabilities tell that the records have not been accessed,  tampered with, copied by unauthorized users, or even switched for  a fake.

After the 2010 leak of hundreds of thousands of Pentagon and  State Department documents by Army Private Bradley Manning to the  anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, the department has disabled the  ability to forward messages, but failed to block the ability to  cut and paste messages and cables, BuzzFeed reports.

Legitimate users are also contributing to potential classified  data leaks with their routine actions. When a non-classified  user’s email on an operating level is included in a classified  group mailing list – he begins receiving all classified  attachments. Users also regularly mislabel classified information  as unclassified, BuzzFeed reports, because they just like  unclassified system better and appreciate its user friendly  interface.

There have also been complaints concerning service accounts with  non-expiring passwords or with no passwords at all, despite  federal requirements that they be reset every 60 days.

Over 19,000 of the 121,702 active accounts including users,  service, and mailbox accounts, on the unclassified system alone,  do not require passwords, said a 2012 independent audit of the  system, conducted for the OIG.

There have been requests to fix the security problem, but it has  always been delayed by the authorities, BuzFeed reported.

Back in 2009 the Chief Information Officer, Charlie Wisecarver,  tasked the department’s current Deputy Chief Intelligence Officer  in charge of the SMART program, Glen Johnson, to immediately fix  the problem.

However according to email exchanges obtained by BuzzFeed,  Johnson’s answer was that it might not be technically possible  nor prudent to change passwords every 60 days, as both users and  system operators could forget and be blocked from entering the  system.

“It is equally easy to imagine the midnight shift trying to  fix a problem and being frustrated because they can’t log in  because of an expired or changed password,” he emailed the  Wisecarver. “It is equally easy to imagine that regularly  passing around a sheet of many passwords has its own risks.”

The IT managers proposed changing only the Active Directory user  passwords, not the service accounts, however whether that was  implemented is not clear.

The State Department’s security has been a standing problem since  at least 2009, as earlier reports suggested a severe lack of  security, including unsecured servers, workstations, unencrypted  transfer of secret material, and the intermixing of classified  and non-classified information.

11 Commercial Jetliners Missing after Islamist takeover of Tripoli Airport

Wednesday, 03 September 2014

Islamist militias in Libya took control of nearly a dozen commercial jetliners last month, and western intelligence agencies recently issued a warning that the jets could be used in terrorist attacks across North Africa.

Intelligence reports of the stolen jetliners were distributed within the U.S. government over the past two weeks and included a warning that one or more of the aircraft could be used in an attack later this month on the date marking the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against New York and Washington, said U.S. officials familiar with the reports.

“There are a number of commercial airliners in Libya that are missing,” said one official. “We found out on September 11 what can happen with hijacked planes.”


Continue reading “11 Commercial Jetliners Missing after Islamist takeover of Tripoli Airport”

Judicial Watch: Benghazi Documents Point to White House on Misleading Talking Points

APRIL 29, 2014

 (Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that on April 18, 2014, it obtained 41 new Benghazi-relatedState Department documents. They include a newly declassified email showing then-White House Deputy Strategic Communications Adviser Ben Rhodes and other Obama administration public relations officials attempting to orchestrate a campaign to “reinforce” President Obama and to portray the Benghazi consulate terrorist attack as being “rooted in an Internet video, and not a failure of policy.”  Other documents show that State Department officials initially described the incident as an “attack” and a possible kidnap attempt.

Logo of the United States White House, especia...

Continue reading “Judicial Watch: Benghazi Documents Point to White House on Misleading Talking Points”

Mexican Social Security Deal Files Face Release / ‘could provide Mexican nationals with U.S. Social Security benefits “




(CN) – A group deserves more information from government agencies on a treaty that could provide Mexican nationals with U.S. Social Security benefits, a federal judge ruled.

At issue is a “totalization agreement” Mexico and the United States reached in 2004 on the payment of Social Security benefits. After nearly 10 years, Congress still has never ratified the agreement.

The Social Security Administration says the U.S. has comparable agreements with other countries, and in this specific case, enactment of the treaty would save U.S. workers and their employers about $140 million in Mexican social security and health insurance taxes over the first five years of the agreement.

In July 2008, TREA Senior Citizens League filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act for 19 specific categories of records on the agreement created since 2001.

The nonprofit takes its name from The Retired Enlisted Association and represents the interests of senior citizens.

Ultimately, the State Department identified 124 united, responsive documents. It released 44 of those papers in full, but withheld 43 in part and 21 in full.

The remaining 16 documents were referred to other government agencies for their review and direct resolution.

TREA Senior Citizens League sued, and the federal government moved for summary judgment. In its opposition to this motion, the plaintiff challenged the withholding, in whole or in part, of 19 documents.

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell largely sided with the senior citizen’s group last year, ruling that the State Department must explain the secrecy surrounding its plan to give Mexican nationals Social Security benefits.

At the same time Judge Howell found the government adequately explained its decision to withhold three of the disputed documents.

As proceedings resumed, the government filed a second amended motion for summary judgment. The plaintiff meanwhile cross-moved for partial summary judgment, and it sought in camera review of the documents.

Judge Howell noted the current challenge concerned six responsive records – three from the State Department and three from the Social Security Administration.

All of the documents in question were withheld in whole or in part under Exemption 5 of the FOIA, which bestows “deliberative process privilege” on certain records.

Because TREA Senior Citizens League did not challenge the withholding of the 10 other documents initially in dispute, Judge Howell granted the government summary judgment with regard to those documents Wednesday.

Judge Howell then undertook a lengthy evaluation of the propriety of withholding the remaining six documents under Exemption 5.

In offering guidance, the high court has said an agency’s recommendation does not lose its “pre-decisional” status merely because it has been communicated to another agency or the Executive Branch, according to the ruling.

“This appears to be the principle most closely analogous to the defendant’s position here, namely, that the disputed documents related to the agreement simply relay advice to the president, since the agreement itself is not yet final,” Howell wrote. “The Supreme Court has been equally clear, however, that when such advice is incorporated into a final agency decision, records of that advice are no longer exempt under Exemption 5.”

Howell added that “the key to determining whether a document is pre-decisional is not necessarily in what stage of implementation, or on whose desk, the policy currently rests – because a final policy may never be acted upon – but instead is more simply focused on whether the document ‘was generated before the adoption of an agency policy.’ … Despite the defendant’s contention that the agreement ‘remains a matter of continuing concern,’ there can be little doubt that the agreement was formally adopted as agency policy when representatives of the United States and Mexico bound their respective nations to the terms of the agreement, even if further implementation requires additional steps, including transmittal to and final acceptance by the United States Congress. The Department of State is the authority through which the United States negotiates international agreements and the SSA will ultimately be responsible for executing the agreement. There is perhaps no more final expression of agency policy than signing a major international agreement on behalf of the United States of America. Therefore, the Agreement is an expression of final agency policy for the purposes of the FOIA.”

As such, it is clear that all of the information in at least two documents should be released to the plaintiffs, and at least some of the information in the other arguments in contention should be released, according to the ruling

With regard to the latter, Judge Howell said the government must conduct another segregability review of these items and produce “the reasonably segregable, non-exempt material in the document to the plaintiff.”

As a result of these findings, the judge rejected the plaintiff’s request for an in camera review of the documents without prejudice.

Millions in advanced US weaponry stolen by Libyan jihadis

Posted By Brendan Bordelon On 12:49 PM  09/27/2013 In Daily Caller News Foundation

Libyan militants allied with terrorist groups stole millions of dollars in high-grade American military equipment, including armored Humvees and advanced night-vision goggles, during raids on a U.S. special forces base outside of Tripoli last summer.

Fox News reports that anonymous sources in the State Department and military confirmed the theft, which is far worse than the few guns first assumed stolen earlier this month. In addition to hundreds of M4 automatic rifles and Glock pistols, nearly every set of available night-vision goggles and laser-targeting devices were snatched during two night-time raids on the compound in July and August.

Even more ominously, 23 Ground Mobility Vehicles, heavily armored Humvees with GPS navigation systems and weapons mounts for grenade launchers, are also missing.

“It’s not just equipment… It’s the capability,” one source told Fox. “You are giving these dangerous groups the capability that only a few nations are capable of… All these militias are tied to terrorist organizations and are tied to [jihadist movements].”

The military hardware was stored at a U.S. special forces camp set up outside the Libyan capital in the months after the Benghazi attack. The 12-man American team running the camp had two missions: to hunt down those responsible for the September 11, 2012 attack that killed Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, and to train Libyan government forces in military tactics and weapons use.

But U.S. special forces were not there to defend the camp during either of the raids, instead sleeping at a nearby villa doubling as a safehouse. And Libyan government forces tasked with securing the camp proved no match for the militants.

After the second raid in August, the State Department pulled its support and American operators were sent home. “The loss of this military equipment is what pulled the plug on the U.S. operation,” one source said.

“No one at the State Department wanted to deal with the situation if any more went wrong,” the source continued, “so State pulled its support for the training program and then began to try and get the team moved out of the country.”

On top of that, U.S. forces failed to destroy the American-built training camp before their departure last month, and the compound is now home to a Libyan anti-government militia busy stockpiling weapons.

Some diplomats told Fox that all of Libya now appears as unstable as Benghazi in the days before the attack on the American consulate, and military sources said that foreign fighters continue to stream through Libya’s porous borders.

“The theft of these weapon and the open borders are feeding al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood and threatens Libya’s neighbors as well,” a special operator told Fox. “It’s already bad — and now it’s really bad.”

“Already assassinations are picking up in Tripoli and there are major worries that the militias are using this stolen equipment to their advantage,” another source said. “The European ambassador was attacked and we are now commonly seeing robbing and attacking of people in broad daylight… This isn’t perception. This is actually happening.”

The news comes one week after President Obama waived federal law prohibiting the transfer of U.S. weapons to terrorist groups in order to arm Syria’s rebels.

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Avril Haines- New Female CIA Deputy

EEV: Story posted for second source validation.

June 13, 2013 by


President Obama’s pick for deputy director of the CIA, set to replace outgoing deputy director Michael Morell and putting a woman for the first time in one of the spy agency’s top jobs, is Avril Haines. She was once the hostess of erotic literature readings at a Baltimore bookstore.

Avril Haines opened and co-owned Adrians’s Book Cafe two decades ago. She named it after her mother, artist Adrian Rappin. There, Haines held monthly readings of erotic literature to a bunch of people ‘trying to have sex without having sex’ – in her own words – according to an article of Baltimore Sun in 1995.

“Erotica has become more prevalent because people are trying to have sex without having sex,” she told the Sun. “Others are trying to find new fantasies to make their monogamous relationships more satisfying. What the erotic offers is spontaneity, twists and turns. And it affects everyone.”

According to Avril, a costumer came up with the idea. At first, she was not very convinced.

“We were terrified who might show up,” she told the newspaper. “We thought it would be a bunch of dirty old men. And a lot of our friends gave us a hard time. They said, “You just want a mass orgy in your bookstore.”‘

But the readings were successful in a candle-lit room on the second floor, with singles paying $17 and couples paying $30 to attend.

43-year-old Avril D. Haines is a White House lawyer and has been part of President Barack Obama’s counsel. She is currently deputy assistant to the president and legal adviser to the National Security Council and she has also chaired a legal committee that reviews the CIA’s most sensitive activities.

She previously worked in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the Department of State from 2003 to 2006, first in the Office of Treaty Affairs and then in the Office of Political Military Affairs. From 2007 to 2008, she worked on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations as Deputy Chief Counsel for the Majority.

Haines received a B.A. in Physics from the University of Chicago and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. She was originally nominated to work for the State Department. She will become the first woman to reach the CIA deputy director role.

Revealed: State Department employs ‘TWO THOUSAND agents with criminal records or checkered backgrounds’

  • Revelations made in memo to State Deputy Inspector General Harold Geisel
  • The 2012 memo was written by a team leader in the IG’s Office
  • The person asserts that the hiring process is flawed
  • Previous memo revealed State Department called off investigation into U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman that alleged he courted prostitutes

By Hayley Peterson and Jill Reilly

PUBLISHED: 05:57 EST, 13 June 2013 | UPDATED: 07:24 EST, 13 June 2013

Revelations: A concerning number of law-enforcement agents have criminal records, according to a memo addressed to State Deputy Inspector General Harold Geisel

A concerning number of State Department law-enforcement agents have criminal records or checkered backgrounds, according to memo.

Around two thousands agents in State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security can play only limited roles in the agency due to their previous form, reported the New York Post.

The revelation is the latest disclosure in a series of scandals which are threatening to to engulf the bureau.

The whistleblower’s memo, obtained by the New York Post, was written to State Deputy Inspector General Harold Geisel from a team leader in the IG’s Office.

The person asserts that the hiring process is flawed and holds implications for the bureau.

‘Department intakes of new . . . officers since the hiring surge a decade ago have reportedly been flawed, with ‘mitigation’ of troubling histories including criminal matters, wrote the team leader.

The damning memo adds that some Diplomatic Security field offices ‘have major problems just waiting to be discovered.’

Yesterday an internal memo claimed the State Department called off an investigation into allegations that U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman repeatedly trawled overseas public parks in search of prostitutes, including minors.

Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy ordered the investigation closed shortly after it was opened, according to the memo, which was written by the State Department Inspector General’s office. Gutman, who has not been charged with any crimes, said the allegations are ‘baseless.’

‘I am angered and saddened by the baseless allegations that have appeared in the press and to watch the four years I have proudly served in Belgium smeared is devastating,’ Gutman, 56, told MailOnline in an e-mailed statement.

‘I live on a beautiful park in Brussels that you walk through to get to many  locations and at no point have I ever engaged in any improper activity.’

United States Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman is pictured with his wide in April 2013. An internal State Department memo claims that he was investigated on allegations that he solicited prostitutesUnited States Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman is pictured with his wife, Michelle Loewinger, in April 2013. An internal State Department memo claims that he was investigated on allegations that he solicited prostitutes

The case against Gutman, a top Obama donor, was being investigated by the Special Investigations Division, an independent investigative arm of the Diplomatic Security Service.

The investigating agent ‘had determined that the ambassador routinely ditched his protective security detail in order to solicit sexual favors from both prostitutes and minor children,’ states the memo obtained by MailOnline.

‘As the agent began to plan surveillance on the ambassador to obtain corroboration, the agent reportedly received notification that [Kennedy] had directed [the State Department’s IG] to cease the investigation and have the agent return to Washington.’

Gutman is a top donor to President Obama, having raised a total of $775,000 for his 2008 campaign and inauguration committee, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. A native New Yorker and son of a Holocaust survivor, he has been married to his wife, Michelle Loewinger, since 1981.

He is adored by Belgians, who dubbed him in 2011 ‘the Ambassador who makes us love America again.’ One Belgian newspaper has even claimed that he could handily win an election if he ran for office there.

The case against Gutman is just one in a series of supposed State Department coverups outlined in the memo, which was first reported by CBS News’ John Miller.

Gutman (center) is adored by Belgians, who dubbed him in 2011 'the Ambassador who makes us love America again'Gutman (center) is adored by Belgians, who dubbed him in 2011 ‘the Ambassador who makes us love America again’
Secretary of State John Kerry is puctured with Gutman and his wife at their residence in Brussels, Belgium, on April 22, 2013Secretary of State John Kerry is puctured with Gutman and his wife at their residence in Brussels, Belgium, on April 22, 2013
The U.S. embassy in Brussels sits on a 32-acre park that is also the site of the Royal Palace of Brussels and the Belgian parliament. The U.S. embassy in Brussels sits on a 32-acre park that is also the site of the Royal Palace of Brussels and the Belgian parliament.

The U.S. embassy in Brussels (left) sits on a 32-acre park (right) that is also the site of the Royal Palace of Brussels and the Belgian parliament

The incidents were also cited in a November 2012 draft of a report by the Office of the Inspector General on the performance of the Diplomatic Security Service. The report obtained by MailOnline stated that senior government officials were ‘protecting favored [Diplomatic Security] rising stars from criminal charges or from embarrassing revelations that could harm a promising career.’


July 8, 1956: Howard Gutman is born in New York, New York

1977: Graduates Columbia University

1980: Graduates magna cum laude from Harvard Law School

Oct. 3, 1981: Marries Michelle Phyllis Loewinger in Long Island

1982: Joins Washington, D.C. law firm Williams & Connolly LLP

1985: Becomes special assistant to FBI Director William H. Webster

1988: Becomes a partner at Williams & Connolly and practices law there for the next two decades

June 2009: Nominated by President Obama to serve as ambassador to Belgium

Aug. 14, 2009: Sworn in as ambassador to Belgium

May 2011: Accused by a Diplomatic Security investigator of having ‘ditched’ his private security detail on a regular basis to pursue sexual favors from prostitutes and minors

‘Such interventions take place often enough that several sources in the Department who regularly see [Special Investigations Division] cases summed the situation up with almost identical words: DS should never investigate DS,’ the report continued.

But those sentences, as well as all references to the investigations that were detailed in the memo, were removed from a final draft of the report – which was issued in March 2013 – at the request of Diplomatic Security’s top brass.

At a December 14, 2012 meeting, Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Eric Boswell requested that the information be omitted from the final report, according to notes from the meeting obtained by MailOnline.

‘He proposed that the subject “should be withheld” from the inspection report until INV’s process determines if “there is something there,”‘ the meeting notes stated. ‘Boswell said putting the subject in the report would “generally damage DS,” would “probably damage the Department,” and would be used by “every defense lawyer around.”‘

In addition to the Gutman case, State Department officials also reportedly manipulated an investigation into the ‘endemic’ hiring of prostitutes among agents belonging to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s security detail.

The memo states that seven security agents were accused of paying for sex while traveling with Clinton overseas. Two agents confessed to the deeds while a third ‘stated he paid for services that were ultimately not received.’

An internal memo has revealed that members of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's security detail were investigated for engaging prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countriesAn internal memo has revealed that members of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s security detail were investigated for engaging prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countries

In one instance, State Department superiors allowed an offending agent to continue his role in securing a Moscow hotel ‘despite obvious counterintelligence issues.’

Investigators later uncovered evidence against four more agents and concluded that the prostitution problem within Clinton’s security detail was ‘endemic.’

As punishment, three agents were removed from the security detail and reassigned elsewhere. But further investigation into the remaining four agents was stopped by senior officials, ‘despite the possibility of counterintelligence issues,’ according to the memo.

The document also references an ‘underground drug ring’ operating near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad may have been providing drugs to U.S. security contractors, including one who died of a methadone overdose.

The memo was brought to light by Aurelia Fedenisn, a former investigator for the State Department Inspector General. She says is sharing the memo with the media to shed light on how internal investigations are influenced by the State Department.

She told CBS that investigators expect some influence but that ‘the degree to which that influence existed and how high up it went, was very disturbing.’

Secretary of State John Kerry pauses during a joint news conference with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, Monday, June 3, 2013, at the State Department in WashingtonSecretary of State John Kerry pauses during a joint news conference with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, Monday, June 3, 2013, at the State Department in Washington

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki pushed back against the allegations in the memo during a press briefing on Monday.

The ‘notion that we would not vigorously pursue criminal misconduct in a case, any case, is preposterous,’ she said. ‘We take allegations of misconduct seriously and we investigate thoroughly. All cases mentioned in the CBS report were thoroughly investigated or under investigation.’

Psaki added that the State Department has responded specifically to the Inspector General’s claims that its investigations are being influenced.

‘The department has responded to the recommendations in the [Inspector General’s] report,’ she added. ‘Diplomatic Security has taken the further step of requesting additional review by outside experience law enforcement officers on top of the [Inspector General’s] inspection so that officers with law enforcement experience can make expert assessments about our current procedures.

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Who is Avril D. Haines – What Bio’s we could quickly find on the nominated to be CIA deputy director



 Avril  Haines  Thumbnail

Links to some quoted posts:

“Avril Haines is a White House lawyer and has been part of President Barack Obama’s counsel. The 43-year-old has also worked with the National Security Council as an adviser. She will become the first woman to reach the CIA deputy director role.”

“Haines was originally nominated to work for the State Department. However, the nomination was recently removed by the administration, and she has been appointed to take over the CIA deputy director position”

Haines, who will succeed career officer Michael Morell on Aug. 9, has served for three years as President Obama’s deputy counsel in charge of national security issues and as legal adviser to the National Security Council. Although she has never worked inside the intelligence agency, “she knows more about covert action than anyone in the U.S. government outside of the CIA,” Brennan said in his first interview since becoming CIA director in March.

The surprise move gives Brennan an ally in the CIA’s executive suite who helped him with the revision of drone-campaign rules that was recently announced by Obama. Unlike an agency insider, Haines has no direct investment in any of the counterterrorism programs that Brennan has indicated he will seek to rein in.

In a message to the CIA on Wednesday afternoon, Brennan emphasized that Haines, 43, has worked closely with senior national security officials. “She has participated in virtually every Deputies and Principals Committee meeting over the past two years and chairs the Lawyers’ Group that reviews the Agency’s most sensitive programs,” the statement said.
Avril D. Haines, Nominee for Legal Adviser, Department of StateAvril D. Haines is Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Counsel to the President for National Security Affairs at the White House. Prior to joining the White House Counsel’s office in 2010, she was Assistant Legal Adviser for Treaty Affairs at the Department of State. She previously worked in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the Department of State from 2003 to 2006, first in the Office of Treaty Affairs and then in the Office of Political Military Affairs. From 2007 to 2008, she worked on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations as Deputy Chief Counsel for the Majority. Ms. Haines clerked for Judge Danny Boggs on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit from 2002 to 2003. From 2001 to 2002, she was a Legal Officer at The Hague Conference on Private International Law. She received a B.A. in Physics from the University of Chicago and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

Avril Haines will work for both the Office of the White House Counsel and the NSC Legal Affairs Directorate, where she will focus on counterterrorism policy. She served as an attorney in the State Department’s Office of the Legal Adviser for over one decade.  In 2007 and 2008, she was detailed to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff as a deputy to Brian McKeon, then chief counsel on the committee and now the deputy national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden. McKeon has also recently led the Obama administration’s efforts to get the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty ratified in the Senate.

With one Document submitted in French


And if you are willing to pay?

CIA’s Eatinger: ‘Speaking the Same Language’ Important from American Society of International Law on

Who is the unnamed U.S. Ambassador who ‘solicited prostitutes in public parks?’ Damning internal memo reveals disgrace of top diplomat

EEV: This article has been updated with the accused Ambassador at the following link:


  • An internal memo  obtained by CBS News reveals specific instances where investigations were  ‘influenced, manipulated or simply called off’
  • One investigation  regarded allegations that a U.S. ambassador was soliciting prostitutes in public  parks
  • Another  allegation of prostitute solicitation involved members of Hillary Clinton’s  security personnel
  • The State  Department says the notion that it wouldn’t pursue such allegations is  ‘preposterous’

By  Hayley Peterson

PUBLISHED: 16:06 EST, 10  June 2013 |  UPDATED: 23:23 EST, 10 June 2013

A damning internal memo obtained by CBS News  alleges that – amongst various other alleged coverups – the State Department  swept under the rug allegations that an unnamed U.S. ambassador repeatedly  trolled overseas public parks in search of prostitutes.

According to the memo, written by the  Inspector General’s office, State  Department officials directed the  IG’s office to stop investigating the  official. He was called to D.C. to meet with Undersecretary of State for  Management Patrick Kennedy and  then allowed to return to his job.

But that allegation is just one in a series  of supposed coverups outlined in the report – others charge that the State  Department covered up allegations of sexual assaults and drug use within their  ranks.

The memo reveals at least a half dozen  specific instances where investigations into illegal or inappropriate behavior  on the part of State Department personnel were ‘influenced, manipulated, or  simply called off’ by senior officials, CBS  News‘ John Miller reports.

Miller reports that the cover-ups involved  ‘allegations that a State Department security official in Beirut “engaged in  sexual assaults” on foreign nationals hired as embassy guards and … that  members of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s security detail “engaged  prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countries” – a problem the report  says was “endemic.”‘

Secretary of State John Kerry pauses during a joint news conference with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, Monday, June 3, 2013, at the State Department in WashingtonSecretary of State John Kerry pauses during a joint news  conference with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, Monday, June 3, 2013,  at the State Department in Washington

An internal memo has revealed that members of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's security detail were investigated for engaging prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countriesAn internal memo has revealed that members of former  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s security detail were investigated for  engaging prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countries

The memo also references an ‘underground drug  ring’ operating near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that provided drugs to U.S.  security contractor.

Miller spoke to Aurelia Fedenisn, a former  investigator for the State Department Inspector General, who said investigators  expect some influence but that ‘the degree to which that influence existed and  how high up it went, was very disturbing.’

The memo details investigators’ concerns that  cases were being manipulated by senior State Department officials. In the final  report, however, all references to specific cases had been removed, Miller  reports.

Allegations of misconduct revealed by an internal memo involve U.S. diplomatic officials around the worldAllegations of misconduct revealed by an internal memo  involve U.S. diplomatic officials around the world

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki pushed  back against the CBS report during a press briefing on Monday.

The ‘notion that we would not vigorously  pursue criminal misconduct in a case, any case, is preposterous,’ she said. ‘We  take allegations of misconduct seriously and we investigate thoroughly. All  cases mentioned in the CBS report were thoroughly investigated or under  investigation.’

Psaki added that the State Department has  responded specifically to the Inspector General’s claims that its investigations  are being influenced.

‘The department has responded to the  recommendations in the [Inspector General’s] report,’ she added. ‘Diplomatic  Security has taken the further step of requesting additional review by outside  experience law enforcement officers on top of the [Inspector General’s]  inspection so that officers with law enforcement experience can make expert  assessments about our current procedures.’

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US diplomatic security accused in sex, drugs cover-up

11   Jun   2013

A US watchdog has launched an inquiry into claims that diplomatic security officials tried to cover up alleged sex-and-drugs charges against agents and diplomats, an official said.

State Department diplomatic security agents are responsible for protecting 275 US embassies as well as the secretary of state — and the bureau last came under fire for the 2012 attack on the US mission in Benghazi, Libya.

Now, in a new blow to the agency’s credibility, a watchdog has called in outside law enforcement officers to investigate its procedures, amid claims it tried to hush up allegations of the use of prostitutes by agents and even an underground drugs ring supplying contractors.

An internal memo by the State Department’s Inspector General found eight cases in which inquiries into alleged criminal activity by diplomatic security agents or contractors were influenced or halted, CBS television reported.

Illustration – the embassy of the United States in Berlin. A US watchdog has launched an inquiry into claims that diplomatic security officials tried to cover up alleged sex-and-drugs charges against agents and diplomats working around the world, an official said.

They included allegations that security agents protecting ex-secretary of state Hillary Clinton “engaged prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countries,” CBS said, quoting from the memo, a problem the report says was “endemic.”

It also revealed details of an alleged “underground drug ring” near the US embassy in Baghdad which was said to supply drugs to contractors working for diplomatic security.

In one case, officials told the inspector general they were told to stop investigating an American ambassador “who held a sensitive diplomatic post and was suspected of patronizing prostitutes in a public park,” CBS reported.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Monday did not deny any of the allegations contained in the CBS report, but refused to go into specifics.

The fortified ‘Green Zone’ where the US embassy is housed in Baghdad, June 24, 2009. An internal memo by the State Department’s Inspector General found 8 cases in which inquiries into alleged criminal activity by diplomatic security agents or contractors were influenced or halted, CBS reported. It also revealed details of an alleged “underground drug ring” near the US embassy in Baghdad.

“We take allegations of misconduct seriously and we investigate thoroughly. All cases mentioned in the CBS report were thoroughly investigated or are under investigation,” she insisted to reporters.

She dismissed the idea that the State Department would not hand over for prosecution any of its 70,000 staff if they were found to have engaged in criminal activity.

“I can say broadly that the notion that we would not vigorously pursue criminal misconducts in any case is preposterous,” she told reporters.

“We’ve put individuals behind bars for criminal behavior. There is record of that. Ambassadors would be no exception.”

A US watchdog has launched an inquiry into claims that diplomatic security officials tried to cover up alleged sex-and-drugs charges against agents and diplomats, an official said.

Pskai vowed “any case we would take seriously and we would investigate, and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” but she dismissed the notion that behavior such as using prostitutes was endemic.

“Last year alone, the detail accompanied then-Secretary Clinton to 69 countries with more than 10,000 person-nights spent in hotels abroad. So I’m not going to speak to specific cases… but it is hardly endemic.”

Psaki also revealed that, following the recommendation of the Inspector General, “diplomatic security has taken the further step of requesting an additional review by outside, experienced law enforcement officers.”

These would make “expert assessments about our current procedures,” she said.

A US security guard stands February 1, 2013 on the roof of the US Embassy in Ankara. State Department diplomatic security agents are responsible for protecting 275 US embassies as well as the secretary of state — and the bureau last came under fire for the 2012 attack on the US mission in Benghazi, Libya.

A former investigator with the Inspector General, Aurelia Fedenisn, told CBS: “We also uncovered several allegations of criminal wrongdoing in cases, some of which never became cases.”

But members of the diplomatic security bureau told the Inspector General’s investigators to back off, she alleged.

“We were very upset. We expect to see influence, but the degree to which that influence existed and how high up it went, was very disturbing,” she said.

Scandal flares up over State Department manipulated investigations/ “called off cases of illegal behavior of diplomatic staff.”

сша госдепартамент сша флаш сша американский флаг Государственный департамент США

Photo: EPA

The State department is trying to cover up a scandal over allegedly altered or dismissed investigations into illegal behavior of multiple government officials worldwide.

 A memo obtained by CBS from the State Department inspector general showed incidents when the State Department manipulated or called off cases of illegal behavior of diplomatic staff.

 Such cases are generally investigated by the Diplomatic Security Service, the State Department’s internal security force. Instead, the DSS agents were told to back off.

 In Baghdad, an “underground drug ring” allegedly supplied drugs to State Department security contractors.

 In Beirut, members of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s former security detail “engaged prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countries.”

 Responding to questions from journalists, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki assured that “all the cases mentioned in the CBS memo have been thoroughly investigated or are under investigation”.

 Voise of Russia, TASS


US tax dollars promoted Monsanto’s GMO crops overseas – report

Source: Reuters – Tue, 14 May 2013 12:59 PM

Author: Reuters

Plant specialist Nancy Brumley ties up a soybean stalk in a greenhouse at the Monsanto Research facility in Chesterfield, Missouri, Oct. 9, 2009. REUTERS/Peter Newcomb

* Report critical of State Dept for promoting biotech crops

* Monsanto interests mentioned in cables

By Carey Gillam

May 14 (Reuters) – U.S. taxpayers are footing the bill for overseas lobbying that promotes controversial biotech crops developed by U.S.-based Monsanto Co and other seed makers, a report issued on Tuesday said.

A review of 926 diplomatic cables of correspondence to and from the U.S. State Department and embassies in more than 100 countries found that State Department officials actively promoted the commercialization of specific biotech seeds, according to the report issued by Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit consumer protection group.

The officials tried to quash public criticism of particular companies and facilitated negotiations between foreign governments and seed companies such as Monsanto over issues like patents and intellectual property, the report said.

The cables show U.S. diplomats supporting Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company, in foreign countries even after it paid $1.5 million in fines after being charged with bribing an Indonesian official and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in 2005.

One 2009 cable shows the embassy in Spain seeking “high-level U.S. government intervention” at the “urgent request” of Monsanto to combat biotech crop opponents there, according to the Food & Water Watch report.

The report covered cables from 2005-2009 that were released by Wikileaks in 2010 as part of a much larger release by Wikileaks of a range of diplomatic cables it obtained.

Monsanto spokesman Tom Helscher said Monsanto believes it is critical to maintain an open dialogue with government authorities and trade groups in other countries.

“We remain committed to sharing information so that individuals can better understand our business and our commitments to support farmers throughout the world as they work to meet the agriculture demands of our world’s growing population,” he said.

State Department officials had no immediate comment when contacted about the report.

Food & Water Watch said the cables it examined provide a detailed account of how far the State Department goes to support and promote the interests of the agricultural biotech industry, which has had a hard time gaining acceptance in many foreign markets.

“It really goes beyond promoting the U.S.’s biotech industry and agriculture,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “It really gets down to twisting the arms of countries and working to undermine local democratic movements that may be opposed to biotech crops, and pressuring foreign governments to also reduce the oversight of biotech crops.”

But U.S. officials, Monsanto and many other companies and industry experts routinely say that biotech crops are needed around the world to increase global food production as population expands. They maintain that the crops are safe and make farming easier and more environmentally sustainable.



The cables show that State Department officials directed embassies to “troubleshoot problematic legislation” that might hinder biotech crop development and to “encourage the development and commercialization of ag-biotech products”.

The State Department also produced pamphlets in Slovenia promoting biotech crops, sent pro-biotech DVDs to high schools in Hong Kong and helped bring foreign officials and media from 17 countries to the United States to promote biotech agriculture, Food & Water Watch said.

Genetically altered crops are widely used in the United States. Crops spliced with DNA from other species are designed to resist pests and tolerate chemical applications, and since their introduction in the mid 1990s have come to dominate millions of acres of U.S. farmland.

The biotech crops are controversial with some groups and in many countries because some studies have shown harmful health impacts for humans and animals, and the crops have been associated with some environmental problems.

They also generally are more expensive than conventional crops, and the biotech seed developers patent the high-tech seeds so farmers using them have to buy new seed every season, a factor that makes them unappealing in some developing nations.

Many countries ban planting of biotech crops or have strict labeling requirements.

“It’s appalling that the State Department is complicit in supporting their (the biotech seed industry’s) goals despite public and government opposition in several countries,” said Ronnie Cummins, executive director of nonprofit organization Organic Consumers Association.

“American taxpayer’s money should not be spent advancing the goals of a few giant biotech companies.”


On the day of his death, US ambassador to Libya warned that he was in danger

Published: 23 January, 2013, 00:55 Edited: 23 January, 2013, 00:55


Hours before US Ambassador Christopher Stevens died in a terrorist attack in Libya, he sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a cable warning that local militias were threatening to take away security officers guarding the US diplomats.

The cable, which Stevens submitted on the morning of Sept. 11, 2012, relayed the warning that Libyan militia “would not continue to guarantee security in Benghazi, a critical function they asserted they were currently providing.” Militia leaders had previously expressed anger at US support of a certain candidate for Libyan prime minister and consequentially planned to extract their security.

Stevens’ cable reached Clinton hours before terrorists attacked the US consulate in Benghazi and killed the ambassador and three other Americans. The cable was publicly released Friday by the chairman of the US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa, and includes 160 pages of documents outlining the violence surrounding Benghazi.

The cable also refers to a Sept. 2 meeting in which the commander of Benghazi’s Security Council expressed deep concern about police and security forces being too weak to protect the country from terrorists.

One paragraph refers to the “expanding Islamist influence in Derna” and a “troubling increase in violence and Islamist influence”.

The ambassador included a report from a meeting that took place on Sept. 9, during which the “security vacuum” was discussed with the Libyan militia leaders. Stevens noted that Islamic extremists were exploiting this vacuum.

“What we have seen are not random crimes of opportunity but rather targeted and discriminate attacks,” Stevens wrote in a memo.

“Attackers are unlikely to be deterred until authorities are at least as capable,” he added.

The documents outlined a number of security issues in Libya, including a section that described the threats to foreigners. This cable will likely play a major role in this week’s congressional hearings in which Clinton will be forced to explain why security wasn’t increased amid reports of safety concerns by the US ambassador himself.

After the Sept. 11 attack, the Department of State claimed they had adequate resources to prevent the endangerment of Americans in Libya and denied having received warnings about possible attacks beforehand.

The cable provides evidence that Clinton had plenty of information about the dangers in Libya and should have provided additional security.

“Systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department (the “Department”) resulted in a Special Mission security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place,” concluded the official State Department review board report on the Benghazi tragedy.

The 160 pages of documents will force Clinton to do a lot of explaining when the hearings kick off on Wednesday.

State Department made “grievous mistake” over Benghazi: Senate report

By Tabassum Zakaria and Mark HosenballPosted 2013/01/01 at 9:26 am EST

WASHINGTON, Jan. 1, 2013 (Reuters) — The State Department made a “grievous mistake” in keeping the U.S. mission in Benghazi open despite inadequate security and increasingly alarming threat assessments in the weeks before a deadly attack by militants, a Senate committee said on Monday.

The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames during a protest by an armed group said to have been protesting a film being produced in the United States September 11, 2012. REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori

A report from the Senate Homeland Security Committee on the September 11 attacks on the U.S. mission and a nearby CIA annex, in which the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans died, faulted intelligence agencies for not focusing tightly enough on Libyan extremists.

It also faulted the State Department for waiting for specific warnings instead of improving security.

The committee’s assessment, “Flashing Red: A Special Report On The Terrorist Attack At Benghazi,” follows a scathing report by an independent State Department accountability review board that resulted in a top security official resigning and three others at the department being relieved of their duties.

Joseph Lieberman, an independent senator who chairs the committee, said that in thousands of documents it reviewed, there was no indication that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had personally denied a request for extra funding or security for the Benghazi mission. He said key decisions were made by “midlevel managers” who have since been held accountable.

Republican Senator Susan Collins said it was likely that others needed to be held accountable, but that decision was best made by the Secretary of State, who has the best understanding “of how far up the chain of command the request for additional security went.”

The attacks and the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens put diplomatic security practices at posts in risky areas under scrutiny and raised questions about whether intelligence on militant activity in the region was adequate.

The Senate report said the lack of specific intelligence of an imminent threat in Benghazi “may reflect a failure” by intelligence agencies to focus closely enough on militant groups with weak or no operational ties to al Qaeda and its affiliates.

“With Osama bin Laden dead and core al Qaeda weakened, a new collection of violent Islamist extremist organizations and cells have emerged in the last two to three years,” the report said. That trend has been seen in the “Arab Spring” countries undergoing political transition or military conflict, it said.


The report recommended that U.S. intelligence agencies “broaden and deepen their focus in Libya and beyond, on nascent violent Islamist extremist groups in the region that lack strong operational ties to core al Qaeda or its main affiliate groups.”

Neither the Senate report nor the unclassified accountability review board report pinned blame for the Benghazi attack on a specific militant group. The FBI is investigating who was behind the assaults.

President Barack Obama, in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, said the United States had “very good leads” about who carried out the attacks. He did not provide details.

The Senate committee said the State Department should not have waited for specific warnings before acting on improving security in Benghazi.

It also said it was widely known that the post-revolution Libyan government was “incapable of performing its duty to protect U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel,” but the State Department failed to fill the security gap.

“Despite the inability of the Libyan government to fulfill its duties to secure the facility, the increasingly dangerous threat assessments, and a particularly vulnerable facility, the Department of State officials did not conclude the facility in Benghazi should be closed or temporarily shut down,” the report said. “That was a grievous mistake.”

The Senate panel reviewed changing comments made by the Obama administration after the attack, which led to a political firestorm in the run-up to the November presidential election and resulted in U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice withdrawing her name from consideration to replace Clinton, who is stepping down early next year.

Rice had said her initial comments that the attack grew out of a spontaneous protest over an anti-Islam film were based on talking points provided by intelligence agencies.

Lieberman said it was not the job of intelligence agencies to formulate unclassified talking points and they should decline such requests in the future.

The report said the original talking points included a line saying “we know” that individuals associated with al Qaeda or its affiliates participated in the attacks. But the final version had been changed to say: “There are indications that extremists participated,” and the reference to al Qaeda and its affiliates was deleted.

The report said that while James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, had offered to provide the committee with a detailed chronology of how the talking points were written and evolved, this had still not been delivered to Capitol Hill because the administration had spent weeks “debating internally” whether or not it should turn over information considered “deliberative” to Congress.

(Editing by Warren Strobel and David Brunnstrom)

Independent inquiry faults U.S. State Department in Benghazi attack

Wed, 19 Dec 2012 02:20 GMT


WASHINGTON, Dec 18 (Reuters) – An independent inquiry into the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans on Sept. 11, sharply criticized the State Department for a lack of seasoned security personnel and for relying on untested local militias to protect the compound, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.

The newspaper cited congressional and State Department officials for the report.

The committee investigating the incident, known as an Accountability Review Board and mandated by U.S. law, conducted its study in secret and presented its report to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday.

Clinton won’t testify on Benghazi due to illness

Posted By Josh Rogin      Saturday, December 15, 2012 – 7:55 PM


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won’t testify to Congress next week on Benghazi, after fainting and suffering a concussion Saturday and due to her ongoing stomach ailment.

“While suffering from a stomach virus, Secretary Clinton became dehydrated and fainted, sustaining a concussion,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Philippe Reines said in a statement. “She has been recovering at home and will continue to be monitored regularly by her doctors. At their recommendation, she will continue to work from home next week, staying in regular contact with Department and other officials. She is looking forward to being back in the office soon.”

Deputy Secretaries of State Bill Burns and Tom Nides will both testify in Clinton’s place, according to the office of Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA).

“Secretary Clinton’s team contacted Senator Kerry this morning to inform them of the Secretary’s concussion. Senator Kerry was relieved to hear that the Secretary is on the mend, but he insisted that given her condition, she could not and should not appear on Thursday as previously planned, and that the nation’s best interests are served by the report and hearings proceeding as scheduled with senior officials appearing in her place,” said Kerry spokeswoman Jodi Seth in a statement.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) and the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) had already announced that Clinton would appear to talk about the result of the State Department’s own internal review of the events leading up to and during the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi. That review is being completed now by an Accountability Review Board (ARB) led by former Undersecretary of State Tom Pickering and including former Joint Chiefs Chairman ret. Adm. Mike Mullen.

But Dec. 13, State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland made it clear that Clinton could not yet confirm her attendance at the Dec. 20 hearing because the ARB was not yet completed. Moreover, the State Department is not agreeing to share the ARB’s report with Congress, only to be “transparent” about Clinton’s conclusions regarding the report.

Kerry is seen as the frontrunner to replace Clinton following U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s withdrawal from contention Dec. 13.

Benghazi documents available to senators only today and tomorrow, when most senators are not in Washington

Benghazi documents available to senators only when they are out of town

   Posted By Josh RoginThursday, November 8, 2012 – 12:16 PM Share

Under pressure from senators, the State Department is allowing some lawmakers to look at cables and other documents related to the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, but only today and tomorrow, when most senators are not in Washington.

Congress is gearing up for a full week of Benghazi-related hearings next week, including a Nov. 13 hearing behind closed doors of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, led by Chairman John Kerry (D-MA). Kerry has written two letters to the State Department requesting congressional access to information and documents related to the circumstances leading up to and during the attack that killed AmbassadorChris Stevens. Several sensitive documents have already been leaked to congressional offices and the media, so the State Department has decided to let some senators view Benghazi documents but not take them home.

“We are currently in the process of gathering and reviewing record responsive to Congressional requests. Our efforts have already identified a large volume of potentially responsive records that address the security situation leading up to the attack,” State Department Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs David Adams wrote to Kerry on Nov. 2 in a letter obtained by The Cable.

“To facilitate your committee’s work, we want to offer you and other members of the committee the opportunity to review these cables and memoranda. This set of material contains classified and other sensitive information… Mindful of these concerns, the Department is prepared to make copies of these documents available for the committee’s in camera review.”

One senior GOP Senate staffer told The Cable that State is only making the documents available for senators and committee staff to view today and tomorrow, which won’t actually allow the members to prepare for the hearing. Staffers for committee members are also not allowed to see the material.

“Funny since no member is in town,” the aide said. “The timing and limited access clearly demonstrates the administration cares more about playing politics with the tragedy than accepting responsibility.”

Committee members Bob Corker (R-TN) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) sent Clinton a letter Nov. 2 asking that the documents be sent to the committee, not just made available for viewing on a limited basis.

“Over the past several weeks, cables, emails and other communications regarding the security situation in Benghazi prior to and since the attack on our consulate have been leaked to some Congressional offices and media outlets, resulting in conflicting reports in the press. We have also called for the official transmittal of these documents and are still awaiting your response,” Corker and Isakson wrote. “On September 25, 2012 and again on October 3, 2012, we sent you letters requesting that all communications between the diplomatic mission in Libya and the State Department related to the security situation be transmitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee without delay. We respectfully ask for an update on the status of our requests for these documents.”

UPDATE: Thursday afternoon, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) annouced the witness list for the Nov. 15 Benhgazi closed hearing at the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The witnesses will be Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director David Petraeus, FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce,Under Secretary of State for Management Pat Kennedy,andNational Counterterrorism Center DirectorMatthew Olsen.

UPDATE #2: A spokesperson for Corker told The Cable that after Corker spoke directly with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the State Department agreed to allow staffers for Sens. James Risch (R-ID) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) view the documents while their bosses are out of town. Corker will be in Washington Friday and will view them himself as well, the spokesperson said.

Exclusive: Classified cable shows Benghazi consulate considered suspending operations, moving in with CIA

By ,

Published November 03, 2012


The U.S. mission in Benghazi, at an “emergency meeting” less than a month  before the Sept. 11 attack, drafted a contingency plan to suspend operations as  security deteriorated — and in the near-term, recommended that consulate  operations be moved to the CIA annex about a mile away, according to a  classified cable reviewed by Fox News.

The State Department’s senior representative at the consulate told those at  the Aug. 15 meeting that the security situation was “trending negatively” and  reported “this daily pattern of violence would be the ‘new normal’ for the  foreseeable future, particularly given the minimal capabilities” of the Libyan  security forces.

With no apparent reason to believe conditions would improve, the cable  notified the office of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the “Emergency  Action Committee” was updating “Post’s tripwires in light of the deteriorating  security situation … to include a ‘suspension of operations’  section.”

The term “tripwire” refers to lines in the sand which, if crossed, cover  personnel levels, security measures, and in this case, the extreme step of  suspending operations.

The cable marked “SECRET” also said, of the possibility of moving the  consulate operations: “Mission personnel could co-locate to the Annex (CIA  outpost) if the security environment degraded suddenly. … (There was  agreement) to formal weekly meetings to discuss the security environment. … In  the longer term, we believe formal collocation with the (Annex) will greatly  improve our security situation.”

The warnings reflected a grave concern among officials on the ground that the  Libyan militia charged with protecting the consulate had been compromised,  perhaps even infiltrated by extremists.

Summarizing the Aug. 15 meeting, the cable sent the following day reported  that “certain sectors of the 17 February Brigade were very hesitant to share  information with the Americans, but as the largest brigade they acted as a  buffer for the Mission against some of the more anti-American, Islamist militias  in town.” The brigade was charged with protecting the consulate.

Moving the consulate operations to the CIA annex might not have ultimately  saved the four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, who died in  the Sept. 11 strike. The annex ended up coming under fire and was the site where  two of the four Americans were killed.

But the concerns in the cable — which also warned Washington that the  consulate could not be protected in the event of a “coordinated attack” and that  “approximately ten Islamist militias and AQ training camps” were known to  operate within Benghazi — are further evidence that the U.S. mission in eastern  Libya repeatedly warned Washington that they were a target.

The reference in the cable to the February 17 Brigade was  significant.

This week, new documents recovered from the Benghazi compound by Foreign  Policy magazine further support the classified cable’s prescient warning that  the Libyan militia was compromised. In the early morning hours of Sept. 11, the  consulate staff believed they were under surveillance.  A document found by  the magazine stated “this person was photographing the inside of the U.S.  special mission and furthermore … this person was part of the police unit sent  to protect the mission.”

This reporting is consistent with an online post from Sean Smith, an avid  gamer, shortly before the consulate was overrun by terrorists and Smith was  killed. As reported by Wired magazine shortly after the attack, Smith wrote:  “Assuming we don’t die tonight. We saw one of our ‘police’ that guard the  compound taking pictures.”

Days after the attack, an intelligence source on the ground in Libya told Fox  News: “One thing for sure is that the 17 Brigade was nowhere to be found and the  Americans were left on their own in the assault.” On a scale of 1 to 10, 10  being very bad, the intelligence source said the consulate security was “A 10 —  total security failure. Benghazi was known to be a major area for extremist  activities. Militias’ loyalty is easily bought and sold. Deals with  militia leaders are worth nothing.”

The cable also shows the consulate staff and CIA leadership in Benghazi  agreed to work hand-in-glove, which included reviewing “emergency action plans”  and addressing areas of collaboration.

Fox News asked the State Department to respond to a series of questions about  the Aug. 16 cable, including who was specifically charged with reviewing it and  whether action was taken by Washington or Tripoli. Fox News also asked, given  the specific warnings and the detailed intelligence laid out in the cable,  whether the State Department considered extra measures for the consulate in  light of the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks — and if no action was  taken, who made that call.

Fox News first reported on its review of the classified cable on Oct.  31.

Given the detailed intelligence and emergency planning presented to the State  Department by its own staff, the cable raises more questions about the  administration’s initial assessment that a demonstration linked to an anti-Islam  film was responsible.

The State Department press office told Fox News that they could not comment,  citing the classified nature of the cable.

“An independent board is conducting a thorough review of the assault on our  post in Benghazi,” Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said in written statement. “Once  we have the board’s comprehensive account of what happened, findings and  recommendations, we can fully address these matters.”

Read more:

Drones were circling above U.S. consulate during Libya attack but officials decided NOT to mount a rescue mission

  • U.S.  Ambassador Christopher Stevens repeatedly pleaded with the State Department for  additional security personnel
  • Republicans  say the Obama administration denied the request for political reasons
  • The White  House says it had no role in procuring security detail for Stevens

By Hayley Peterson and Jill Reilly

PUBLISHED:10:01 EST, 19  October 2012| UPDATED:12:49 EST, 20 October 2012

American drones were in the skies above the  U.S. consulate in Benghazi as the deadly attack that killed ambassador  Christopher Stevens unfolded, it has been revealed.

Defense department officials considered  sending troops in to rescue the ambassador and staff, according to CBS News, but  ultimately decided not to .

They would haven been able to watch the  attack on-screen as it unfolded.

The revalations came a day after it emerged  that U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens repeatedly pleaded with the State  Department to ramp up his security team in Libya — requests that the Pentagon  ultimately denied — in the weeks, days and hours leading up to the terrorist  attack that killed him and three other Americans, newly released cables have  revealed.

Stevens, who was killed in the 11 September  attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, warned the State Department of a  ‘security vacuum’ in Libya ‘that is being exploited by independent actors’ in  one cable that described rapidly deteriorating security  conditions.

‘Islamic extremists are able to attack the  Red Cross with impunity,’ he wrote. ‘What we have seen are not random crimes of  opportunity but rather targeted discriminate attacks.’

Revelations: Washington was told within 24 hours of last month's deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate that there was evidence it was carried out by militants, not a spontaneous mob upset about ridiculing Islam's Prophet MuhammadRevelations: Washington was told within 24 hours of last  month’s deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate that there was evidence it was  carried out by militants, not a spontaneous mob upset about ridiculing Islam’s  Prophet Muhammad
Knowledge: It is unclear who, if anyone, saw the cable outside the CIA at that point and how high up in the agency the information wentKnowledge: It is unclear who, if anyone, saw the cable  outside the CIA at that point and how high up in the agency the information  went

Stevens said the attackers would not be  deterred ‘until authorities are at least as capable.’

Just hours before his death, he sent  the  Pentagon a cable describing ‘expanding Islamist influence in Dema,’ a town east  of Benghazi, and said he was seeing a ‘troubling increase in  violence and  Islamist influence.’

Stevens recapped a meeting in which  the  commander of Benghazi’s Supreme Security Council told him there is  ‘growing  frustration with police and security forces.’

The cables were released by  Republican Rep.  Darrell Issa of California, the chairman of the U.S.  House Oversight and  Government Reform Committee, which is investigating  the security matters  surrounding Stevens’ death and questioning whether  the State Department could  have prevented the deadly attack.

Less than three weeks ahead of the  presidential election, Republicans are using the cables to attack  President  Obama on his foreign policy, despite the State Department’s  claim that it was  solely responsible for the decisions to deny Stevens’  requests for more  security in Libya.

‘These critical foreign policy decisions are  not made by low or  mid-level career officials — they are typically made  through a  structured and well-reasoned process that includes the National  Security Council and the White House,’ Issa wrote in a letter to Obama on  Friday.

The letter claims that Obama had a  political  motivation in rejecting Stevens’ security requests, since the  president was  eager to show improving conditions in Libya after the  U.S.-led international  operation that toppled Libya dictator Moamar  Gadhafi.

On Aug. 2, six weeks before Stevens  was  killed, he requested ‘protective detail bodyguard’ positions,  calling the  security situation in Libya ‘unpredictable, volatile and  violent.’

A month earlier, he requested that  the State  Department extend his tour of duty personnel, which is a  16-man temporary  security team trained in combating terrorism. The  request was denied and the  security team left 8 August.

Stevens had asked for the security team to  stay through mid-September.

Colonel Andrew Wood, the leader of  the  security team that left Libya in the weeks before the terror attack, told CBS  News that Stevens fought hard against losing the team.

‘It was quite a degree of frustration on  their part,’ he said. ‘They were — I guess you could say —  clenched-fist over  the whole issue.

At loggerheads: The Obama administration's handling of the aftermath of the Benghazi attack came to the fore during Tuesday's second presidential campaign debateQuestions: In their debate on Tuesday, President Barack  Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney argued over when Obama first said it  was a terror attack

The White House maintained publicly for a  week that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya was a spontaneous mob upset about an anti-Islam video, even though it has now been  revealed that they were informed within 24 hours of the attack  that it was  planned and carried out by militants.

‘Your administration has not been  straightforward with the American people in the aftermath of the  attack,’ Issa  wrote in his letter to Obama.

In his Rose Garden address the morning after  the killings, Obama said, ‘No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this  great nation, alter  that character or eclipse the light of the values that we  stand for.’

But Republicans say he was speaking generally  and didn’t specifically call  the Benghazi attack a terror attack until weeks  later, with the  president and other key members of his administration referring  at first to the anti-Muslim movie circulating on the Internet as a precipitating event.

Last week, the State Department said  that it  never believed the 11 September attack on the U.S. consulate was the result of a  protest over an anti-Islam movie, contradicting  previous statements.

Inferno: Armed attackers dumped cans of diesel fuel and set ablaze the consulate's exteriorInferno: Armed attackers dumped cans of diesel fuel and  set ablaze the consulate’s exterior
Siege: The compound came under heavy mortar and gunfire during the attack, which lasted several hours Siege: The compound came under heavy mortar and gunfire  during the attack, which lasted several hours

The White House now says the attack  probably  was carried out by an al Qaida-linked group, with no public  demonstration  beforehand. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton  blamed the ‘fog of war’  for the early conflicting accounts.

Issa’s committee questioned State  Department  officials for hours about what Republican lawmakers said was  lax security at  the consulate, given the growth of extremist Islamic  militants in North  Africa.

Congressional aides are hoping to use Stevens’ cables and information from State Department testimonies to  build a  timeline of what the intelligence community knew, compared to what the White  House was telling the public about the attack. That could give Romney  ammunition to use in his foreign policy debate with Obama on Monday  night.

Reports have revealed that the CIA station  chief in Libya compiled an intelligence briefing from eyewitnesses within 24 hours of the assault on the consulate that indicated militants launched the  violence.

The briefing from the station chief was written late Wednesday, 12 September and reached intelligence agencies in  Washington the next day, intelligence officials said.

Yet on Saturday of that week, briefing points  sent by the CIA to Congress  said ‘demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously  inspired by the  protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct  assault.’

The briefing  points, obtained by the AP,  added: ‘There are indications that  extremists participated in the violent  demonstrations’ but did not  mention eyewitness accounts that blamed militants  alone.

Such raw intelligence reports by the CIA on  the ground would normally be  sent first to analysts at the headquarters in  Langley, Virginia, for  vetting and comparing against other intelligence derived  from  eavesdropping drones and satellite images.

Only then would such intelligence  generally  be shared with the White House and later, Congress, a process  that can take  hours, or days if the intelligence is coming only from one or two sources who  may or may not be trusted.

U.S. intelligence officials say in this case  the delay was due in part to  the time it took to analyze various conflicting  accounts.

One official, speaking on condition  of  anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the incident  publicly,  explained that ‘it was clear a group of people gathered that  evening’ in  Benghazi, but that the early question was ‘whether extremists took over a crowd  or they were the crowd.’

But that explanation has been met with  concern in Congress.

Flames, grenades and gunfire: A burnt-out car in front of the U.S. consulateFlames, grenades and gunfire: A burnt-out car in front  of the U.S. consulate

‘The early sense from the intelligence  community differs from what we are hearing now,’ Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff  said. ‘It ended up being pretty far afield, so we want to figure out why …  though we don’t want to deter the intelligence community from sharing their best  first impressions’ after such events in the future.

‘The intelligence briefings we got a week to  10 days after were consistent with what the administration was saying,’said Rep.  William Thornberry, a member of the House Intelligence and Armed Services  committees.

Thornberry would not confirm the existence  of the early CIA report but voiced skepticism over how sure intelligence  officials, including CIA Director David Petraeus, seemed of their original  account when they briefed lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

‘How could they be so certain immediately  after such events, I just don’t know,’he said. ‘That raises suspicions that  there was political motivation.

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Issa’s Benghazi document dump exposes several Libyans working with the U.S.

   Posted By Josh Rogin Friday, October 19, 2012 – 7:58 PM

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) compromised the identities of several Libyans working with the U.S. government and placed their lives in danger when he released reams of State Department communications Friday, according to Obama administration officials.

Issa posted 166 pages of sensitive but unclassified State Department communications related to Libya on the committee’s website afternoon as part of his effort to investigate security failures and expose contradictions in the administration’s statements regarding the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi that resulted in the death of Amb. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

“The American people deserve nothing less than a full explanation from this administration about these events, including why the repeated warnings about a worsening security situation appear to have been ignored by this administration. Americans also deserve a complete explanation about your administration’s decision to accelerate a normalized presence in Libya at what now appears to be at the cost of endangering American lives,” Issa and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) wrote today in a letter to President Barack Obama.

But Issa didn’t bother to retract the names of Libyan civilians and local leaders mentioned in the cables, and just as with the WikiLeaks dump of State Department cables last year, the administration says that Issa has done damage to U.S. efforts to work with those Libyans and exposed them to physical danger from the very groups that had an interest in attacking the U.S. consulate.

“Much like WikiLeaks, when you dump a bunch of documents into the ether, there are a lot of unintended consequences,” an administration official told The CableFriday afternoon. “This does damage to the individuals because they are named, danger to security cooperation because these are militias and groups that we work with and that is now well known, and danger to the investigation, because these people could help us down the road.”

One of the cables released by Issa names a woman human rights activist who was leading a campaign against violence and was detained in Benghazi. She expressed fear for her safety to U.S. officials and criticized the Libyan government.

“This woman is trying to raise an anti-violence campaign on her own and came to the United States for help. She isn’t publicly associated with the U.S. in any other way but she’s now named in this cable. It’s a danger to her life,” the administration official said.

Another cable names a Benghazi port manager who is working with the United States on an infrastructure project.

“When you’re in a situation where Ansar al-Sharia is a risk to Americans, an individual like this guy, who is an innocent civilian who’s trying to reopen the port and is doing so in conjunction with Americans, could be at risk now because he’s publicly affiliated with America,” the official said, referring to the group thought to have led the Benghazi attack.

One cable names a local militia commander dishing dirt on the inner workings of the Libyan Interior Ministry. Another cable names a militia commander who claims to control a senior official of the Libyan armed forces. Other cables contain details of conversations between third-party governments, such as the British and the Danes, and their private interactions with the U.S., the U.N., and the Libyan governments over security issues.

“It betrays the trust of people we are trying to maintain contact with on a regular basis, including security officials inside militias and civil society people as well,” another administration official told The Cable. “It’s a serious betrayal of trust for us and it hurts our ability to maintain these contacts going forward. It has the potential to physically endanger these people. They didn’t sign up for that. Neither did we.”

One administration official accused Issa of doing harm to the investigation for the sake of creating negative news stories days before the final presidential debate, which will focus on foreign policy. In previous investigations, Issa has acknowledged and respected the need to protect information that could be important to completing the administration’s own investigations, the official noted.

“He’s trying to gather all the facts, but he’s blurting out all the evidence before the State Department and FBI investigation is done,” the official said.

Frederick Hill, a spokesman for the Oversight Committee, defended the release of the documents in a Friday afternoon interview with The Cable. He said some of the documents had been released by the committee after the Oct. 10 hearing Issa held with State Department officials and the State Department has not directly complained to the committee so far.

Hill said it was the administration that had endangered lives by failing to put adequate security measures in place before the attack.

“Certainly there are people who made reckless decisions and put lives in danger in this situation and these people have motivations to discredit efforts to hold them accountable rather than having their true motivations be the security of people on the ground,” he said.

The administration failed to protect sensitive information when it fled the compound during the attack, so its complaints about Issa’s release are hypocritical, Hill argued.

“This is the administration that had all sorts of information sitting around the consulate. Where was their outrage and urgency when all that was happening?” he said.

Hill discounted the administration’s official’s assertion that the public outing of U.S. government sources and contacts on the ground in Libya places those people in any danger.

“None of these folks would seem to be surprising folks to be talking to U.S. officials considering the organizations they represent and the types of activities they were involved in,” he said.

The Cable pointed out that even WikiLeaks had approached the State Department and offered to negotiate retractions of sensitive information before releasing their cables. Hill confirmed that Issa did not grant the State Department that opportunity but said it was the State Department’s fault for not releasing the documents when they were first requested.

“We gave them the opportunity to have them present us with documents and have them tell us at that time what they were concerned about,” he said.

Committee ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings (D-MD) responded to Issa’s letter late Thursday, writing that Issa’s letter “completely ignores sworn testimony provided to the Committee, recklessly omits contradictory information from the very same documents it quotes, irresponsibly promotes inaccurate information, and makes numerous allegations with no evidence to substantiate them.”

State Department granted New York terror plotter a student visa

Posted By Josh Rogin Thursday, October 18, 2012 – 4:53 PM

Last December, the State Department issued a student visa to the Bangladeshi man arrested this week for trying to blow up the Federal Reserve building with what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb, the State Department confirmed today.

Twenty-one-year-old Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, who was arrested Wednesday as part of an FBI sting operation, was reportedly in contactwith al Qaeda before he entered the United States in January to attend Southeast Missouri State University, where he was studying cyber security. But the State Department’s system to check visa applicants didn’t find any reason to deny him entry, and the department issued his visa.

“The suspect did have a student visa to attend a legitimate academic program in the United States, for which he was qualified,” State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said today. “Visa decisions are made in accordance with applicable law and department regulations. Each case is looked at on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all of the information contained in U.S. government databases and in consultation with other government agencies.”


The State Department has its own database for vetting visa applications, called the Consular Lookout and Support System (CLASS), which keeps a list of those foreigners who should not be granted a visa. There are 39 million records in that system but Nafis wasn’t one of them, Nuland said.

The State Department’s visa vetting program last came into question after the failed terror plot in December 2009 by “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. In that case, the plotter’s father had warned the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria that his son was dangerous. In this case, the plotter’s father has said he can’t believe his son was an aspiring terrorist.

After Nafis entered the United States, the responsibility of monitoring his visa compliance was transferred to the Department of Homeland Security, a State Department official said.

Students are tracked in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, an Internet-based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security,” the official said.

In fiscal year 2011, the State Department issued 476,000 type “F” student visas worldwide, 1,136 of them for Bangladeshis.

David Axelrod blames State Department for security issues at Benghazi consulate

Posted By Gregg Re On 4:57 PM  10/14/2012 @ 4:57 PM In DC Exclusives,DC Exclusives – Blurb,Politics,World,Yahoo! Linkbox |

President Barack Obama’s chief re-election campaign strategist David Axelrod told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace that the State Department — not the White House — was responsible for lax security at the Benghazi embassy prior to the deadly Sept. 11 terror attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

“The White House was talking about what the White House knew,” Axelrod said, referring to Vice President Joe Biden’s statement during a debate Thursday night that “we weren’t told” personnel in Benghazi had asked for extra security measures.

“There are embassies all over the world and requests all over the world and these requests go over the the security professionals at the State Department,” Axelrod said. “And there’s no doubt that some of these matters went into the security department of the State Department. But it didn’t come to the White House, and that’s what the vice president was responding to.”

Officials in the Obama administration, including U.N. ambassador Susan Rice, initially claimed that the attack was the result of a protest occurring outside the embassy over an anti-Islam YouTube video.

When it became clear that account was inaccurate, however, the White House scrambled to blame intelligence agencies and the State Department for various oversights. (RELATED: State Dept. says Rice was completely wrong about Libya attack; White House throws Hillary under 2012 bus)

“These kinds of issues are handled in the State Department by security officials,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said during Friday’s press briefing.

Wallace reminded Axelrod about Biden’s insistence that the State Department never informed the White House that more security was necessary.

“We weren’t told they wanted more security,” Biden told moderator Martha Raddatz, contradicting several State Department officials, who recently testified under oath that they had requested more security at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. “We did not know they wanted more security.”

But Axelrod remained defiant, before pausing to emphasize Obama’s personal stake in the Benghazi incident. (RELATED: Mark Steyn says Obama administration is using ambassador’s dead body as a political ‘prop’)

“These matters were being handled by the State Department,” Axelrod repeated. “Here’s the fundamental thing: Nobody on this planet is more concerned about getting to the bottom of this than the president of the United States. … He knew Chris Stevens, he admired Chris Stevens. We want to get to the bottom of it.”

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U.S. officer got no reply to requests for more security in Benghazi

Tue, Oct 9 2012

By Susan Cornwell and Mark Hosenball

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.”

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the department’s “posture is to be as cooperative as we possibly can” at the Wednesday hearing. In addition to Nordstrom, it will feature testimony by Lamb, Patrick Kennedy, the under secretary of state for management, and Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Wood, who headed a security support team at the Tripoli embassy.

Debate over whether the Americans were caught unprepared for the assault by militants on the diplomatic mission in Libya’s relatively lawless eastern section has put the administration of President Barack Obama, a Democrat, on the defensive in the run-up to the November presidential election.

A leading Republican on the committee probing the attack, Representative Jason Chaffetz, told Reuters Tuesday he thought security decisions U.S. officials made for the Benghazi mission had turned out to be “deadly” ones.

The top U.S. intelligence authority, the office of the Director of National Intelligence, says the four Americans were killed in an organized terrorist assault, but the attackers have not been identified.

Separately, a U.S. official confirmed to Reuters that in addition to the four Americans who were killed in the Benghazi attacks on September 11, three more Americans were injured. Only one of those remains in hospital, the official said.


Nordstrom, a State Department regional security officer, told lawmakers that Kennedy issued a “decision memo” in December 2011 requiring that the Benghazi post be manned with five diplomatic security agents, but that it usually had only three or four.

“He (Nordstrom) stated that he sent two cables to State Department headquarters in March and July 2012 requesting additional Diplomatic Security Agents for Benghazi, but that he received no responses,” the memo said.

At some point, however, it appears Nordstrom learned the views of Lamb because he told the committee she “wanted to keep the number of U.S. security personnel in Benghazi artificially low,” the memo said.

“He said that Deputy Assistant Secretary (for international programs) Lamb believed the Benghazi post did not need any Diplomatic Security Special Agents because there was a residential safe haven to fall back to in an emergency, but that she thought the best course of action was to assign three agents,” the memo said.

It is unclear who made the final decision about how many agents were stationed in Benghazi.

“Sadly, that was a deadly decision,” Representative Chaffetz said of leaving the mission with just a few security agents.

“Look at the result — the first (U.S.) ambassador killed since the 1970s,” Chaffetz said in an interview.

The Oversight and Government Reform committee has been investigating the handling of security at the U.S. mission in Benghazi before the attack. The committee’s Republican Chairman Darrell Issa and Chaffetz, a subcommittee chairman, have led the probe.

Chaffetz said he suspects the devotion of so much effort and money to Iraq and Afghanistan has drained resources away from security for U.S. diplomatic efforts in other parts of the world. U.S. troops have withdrawn from Iraq but thousands of security contractors remain there, he said.

“We have 15,000 (security contractors) in Iraq, and we have a hard time having more than two dozen in Libya,” Chaffetz said. “It doesn’t seem to balance itself out right.”

Democrats counter that Republicans have pushed for cuts in the funding of the very embassy security that they now are charging is insufficient.

The Democratic staff memo that outlined Nordstrom’s pleas for more security also said that House Republicans voted to reduce embassy security funding by about half a billion dollars below the amount requested by the Obama administration since 2010. The Democratic-led Senate had been able to restore “a small portion” of these funds, the memo said.

Ambassador Chris Stevens died of smoke inhalation when he was trapped alone inside the burning building in Benghazi in an attack that began on the evening of September 11.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a conference in Florida on Tuesday that there was no advanced warning about the Libya attack.

He scoffed at media portrayals of him as “hapless and hopeless” for acknowledging on September 28 a shift in the intelligence assessment of the Benghazi assault, calling it a deliberate terrorist attack instead of an event stemming from spontaneous protest, as initially thought.

Clapper suggested it was unrealistic for anyone to expect the U.S. intelligence community to have a “a God’s eye, God’s ear certitude” right after an attack like the one in Libya.

(Additional reporting by Tabassum Zakaria and Phil Stewart; Editing by Warren Strobel and Cynthia Osterman)