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Mid-August cable to State Department from US Mission in Benghazi warned of Al Qaeda presence, consulate's lack of ability to defend against coordinated attack

By Doug Powers  •  November 1, 2012 11:38 AM

**Written by Doug Powers

Keep in mind as you read the following that in early October officials from the State Department claimed there was “no actionable intelligence” of a planned attack heading into the anniversary of 9/11 and that the attack happened without warning.

From Fox News:

The U.S. Mission in Benghazi convened an “emergency meeting” less than a month before the assault that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, because Al Qaeda had training camps in Benghazi and the consulate could not defend against a “coordinated attack,” according to a classified cable reviewed by Fox News.

Summarizing an Aug. 15 emergency meeting convened by the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, the Aug. 16 cable marked “SECRET” said that the State Department’s senior security officer, also known as the RSO, did not believe the consulate could be protected.

“RSO (Regional Security Officer) expressed concerns with the ability to defend Post in the event of a coordinated attack due to limited manpower, security measures, weapons capabilities, host nation support, and the overall size of the compound,” the cable said.

According to a review of the cable addressed to the Office of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Emergency Action Committee was also briefed “on the location of approximately ten Islamist militias and AQ training camps within Benghazi … these groups ran the spectrum from Islamist militias, such as the QRF Brigade and Ansar al-Sharia, to ‘Takfirist thugs.’” Each U.S. mission has a so-called Emergency Action Committee that is responsible for security measures and emergency planning.

The details in the cable seemed to foreshadow the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. compound, which was a coordinated, commando-style assault using direct and indirect fire. Al Qaeda in North Africa and Ansar al-Sharia, both mentioned in the cable, have since been implicated in the consulate attack.

Read the rest here.

That punches even more holes in the excuse the Obama administration gave, which was that the attack was sudden, a few hours just wasn’t enough time to get local military assets to the area and that US officials just didn’t know enough about what was going on. You also might recall the VP debate where Joe Biden gave the audience the whole load when he claimed the administration’s initial assessment of the attack was “spontaneous protest that got out of control” because that’s what the intelligence community told them.

Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post adds this:

While the Romney campaign has not responded directly to our request for comment, former ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton told me this cable reveals multiple problems. “This cable shreds the idea that pre-9/11 security concerns and requests for security enhancements were limited to Embassy Tripoli. The vulnerability of our consulate in Benghazi, particularly to armed terrorist attacks, is front and center here.” He added: “State’s refusal to answer the questions raised by the cable reflects poorly on Secretary Clinton, but explains why she may seek to stay in office at least temporarily if President Obama wins a second term. She needs to remain in control of the State bureaucracy in order to protect herself most effectively.”

But there is a bigger policy failure at work here, Bolton said: “The reference to terrorists and al-Qaeda training camps in the Benghazi area is chilling. In light of the threatening environment around the consulate, it is even more unbelievable that anyone could have propounded the theory that the deadly attack in September was caused by the Muhammad video.”

The video, though uploaded to YouTube in July of this year, didn’t come into the picture until September 9th after an Egyptian TV host aired excerpts — three weeks after the U.S. Mission in Benghazi alerted the State Department about an Al Qaeda presence in the region and said the consulate could not defend against a coordinated attack. As to Bolton’s reference to Hillary possibly staying on at State if Obama wins the election, she hasn’t ruled that out.

This story has gotten too big to ignore, and yet some still are. “Serious” news outlets are taking a pass, which leaves it up to a handful of reporters, a good number of bloggers and one late night comic:

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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