Father of bodyguard injured in Libya questions State Dept. response
(Reuters) - The father of an American bodyguard injured in the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, said on Wednesday the State Department should own up to what he said were its mistakes and release more information about what occurred.
David Ubben, 31, suffered broken bones and other injuries in the September 11 attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans.
As David Ubben recuperates at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington, his father, Rex Ubben, said he did not blame the State Department or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for his son's injuries. But "I do find it troubling that they have not owned up to their shortcomings; in government, in the military, and in business, if something goes wrong, you admit it, correct it, and move on," Rex Ubben said.
"If you were in charge, it was your fault," he said in an email exchange with Reuters.
His comments came after some congressional Republicans on Tuesday called for Clinton to provide more information about security at U.S. compounds in Benghazi in the days, weeks and months leading up to the attacks. In a letter to Clinton, Representatives Darrell Issa of California and Jason Chaffetz of Utah recounted a number of attacks in Libya this year and alleged that requests from U.S. officials in the country for heightened security went unheeded.
Debate over whether President Barack Obama's administration was caught unprepared by an assault by militant groups has become U.S. election-year fodder.
Ubben said people understood "mistakes and lack of foresight do happen," but, "to attempt to delay or cover information up, upcoming election or no, might put other people's lives at risk and fools no one."
Clinton vowed on Wednesday to pursue a full accounting of the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi "wherever that leads," but cautioned it could take time for a complete picture to emerge.
"There are continuing questions about what exactly happened in Benghazi on that night three weeks ago. And we will not rest until we answer those questions and until we track down the terrorists who killed our people," Clinton said in Washington.
The Benghazi attack killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, information technology specialist Sean Smith and security guards Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.
'OBVIOUSLY AN ATTACK, NOT A RIOT'
Ubben said his son was on temporary assignment in Libya and that his deployment came in July, after - and perhaps in response to - earlier security incidents. On June 6, an improvised bomb was placed at the north gate of the Benghazi mission. It blew a hole in the fence.
Rex Ubben, 60, said he was a 24-year Air Force veteran who retired in 1995 as master sergeant. He was based at various U.S. embassies. Since retiring, he has been a computer programmer for several banks.
He said David Ubben described the violence on September 11 as "obviously an attack and not a riot," and sketched out what appeared to be a sophisticated mortar attack during the second wave of the assault. That took place at another compound where U.S. and Libyan personnel retreated, and resulted in the death of Doherty and Woods.
"What I wanted to know was whether the second part of the attack was pre-planned. The first (mortar) dropped 50 yards short and the next two were right on target," he said, adding his son "was not conscious for any more."
"This indicates to me that someone was either very, very good, highly trained and skilled, or that the mortar was already set up and pointed at the safe house and only minor adjustments were needed," he said.
Ubben also questioned why it took so long for his son to reach a hospital after the attack, saying of his son's condition, "by my count, there were five or six broken bones (one completely smashed, thus the operations) and shrapnel damage head to toe. I was surprised at how many parts of him were injured."
David Ubben is having a series of surgeries and his father expects him to be hospitalized for several months.
Rex Ubben said his son did not share many details of the attack with him, but added: "He seems to have been blown up twice, and kept going after the first one. ... I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to whoever did the first aid the first time, the second time, and maintained the tourniquets until they could get him out of there."
Ubben said he was bothered that "people do not seem to realize that this was a much bigger disaster for the people of Libya than it was for us, that they were attacked just like we were."