Libya consulate security was too weak, says former military team chief (+video)
Lt. Col, Andrew Wood, the head of a 16-member military team in Libya, said that diplomatic security was unusually weak at the US consulate in Benghazi, where the US ambassador and three other Americans were killed in a September terrorist attack.
The former head of a 16-member U.S. military team in Libya said Wednesday the consulate in Benghazi, where the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed, never had the forces it needed to protect itself.Skip to next paragraph
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Lt. Col, Andrew Wood said in prepared testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that U.S. security was so weak that in April, only one U.S. diplomatic security agent was stationed in Benghazi.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and party members of Congress have increasingly sharpened their criticism of the Democratic administration's initial explanation of the attack. They said they never accepted the original explanation.
The committee hearing followed assertions Tuesday night by the State Department that it never concluded that the Sept. 11 attack stemmed from protests over an American-made video ridiculing Islam. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans died in what the administration now says was a terrorist attack.
Asked about the administration's initial — and since retracted — explanation linking the violence to protests over the anti-Muslim video circulating on the Internet, one official said, "That was not our conclusion."
He called it a question for "others" to answer, without specifying. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly on the matter, and provided no evidence that might suggest a case of spontaneous violence or angry protests that went too far.
It was a top administration diplomatic official who is part of the State Department — U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice — who gave a series of interviews five days after the attack that wrongly described the attack as spontaneous.
She said the administration believed the violence was unplanned and that extremists with heavier weapons "hijacked" the protest against the anti-Islamic video. She did qualify her remarks to say that was the best information she had at the time. Rice since has denied trying to mislead Congress.