WASHINGTON Oct 2 U.S. officials in Libya asked
repeatedly for more security at their mission in Benghazi before
the Sept. 11 attack that killed four Americans there, but
Washington denied the requests, leaders of a congressional
committee said on Tuesday.
U.S. Representatives Darrell Issa and Jason Chaffetz wrote a
letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demanding details
of the requests for more security.
They said the House Oversight and Government Reform
Committee will hold an Oct. 10 hearing on the Benghazi attack.
"Multiple U.S. federal government officials have confirmed
to the committee that, prior to the September 11 attack, the
U.S. mission in Libya made repeated requests for increased
security in Benghazi," Issa and Chaffetz wrote.
"The mission in Libya, however, was denied these resources
by officials in Washington," the Republican lawmakers said.
Issa is chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform
Committee and Chaffetz oversees its subcommittee on national
security, homeland defense, and foreign operations.
Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans
were killed in the assault on the mission the evening of Sept.
11. Last Friday, the top U.S. intelligence authority declared it
believed this was a "deliberate and organized terrorist attack."
Debate over whether the Democratic Obama administration was
caught unprepared by an assault by militant groups has become
U.S. election-year fodder.
Republicans have criticized initial statements by
administration officials, including U.S. Ambassador to the
United Nations Susan Rice, who suggested the attacks were
protests against an anti-Muslim film.
The White House referred questions on the lawmakers' letter
to the State Department. The department has declined to comment
on most aspects of the security situation in Benghazi, pending
an FBI probe and a special department review panel.
Stevens died of smoke inhalation when he was trapped alone
inside the burning consulate in Benghazi. Another diplomat, Sean
Smith, and two U.S. security personnel were also killed.
Issa and Chaffetz said the attack was the "latest in a long
line of attacks on Western diplomats and officials in Libya in
the months leading up to" the assault.
Their letter said unarmed Libyan guards employed at the
Benghazi mission were warned by their family members to quit
their jobs in the weeks before the assault, "because there were
rumors in the community of an impending attack."
"Please detail any requests made by embassy Tripoli to the
State Department headquarters for additional security, whether
in general or in light of specific attacks," as well as the
department's response, the lawmakers wrote to Clinton, asking
for a response by next Monday.