State Dept Reverses Denial of Hiring British Security Firm in Benghazi
In her daily press briefing on Tuesday, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland admitted that she provided false information Friday about the State Department's hiring of private security firms for the American mission in Benghazi attacked on September 11th:
QUESTION: You also said there was no contract with a private security firm in Libya, and yet apparently some British security guards were hired. Is that your way of saying you didn’t contract with a firm but you did hire individual security guards?
MS. NULAND: Thank you for that, because there was an error in what I said. The external security, external armed security, as we have been saying, outside of the perimeter, was fully handled by the Libyan side. There was no contract – contracting out of that. There was a group called Blue Mountain Group, which is a private security company with permits to operate in Libya. They were hired to provide local Libyan guards who operated inside the gate doing things like operating the security access equipment, screening the cars, that kind of thing.
QUESTION: Just to clarify, they were contracted by the U.S. State Department or another agency – Blue Mountain?
MS. NULAND: They were contracted by the Department.
QUESTION: And Blue Mountain is a British company?
MS. NULAND: I’m going to let them self-identify on that front. But the people who were hired were Libyans.
Nuland continued with reporters, "There’s nothing else that I have that needs correcting at the moment."
Only four days earlier, at her daily press briefing on Friday, Nuland emphatically denied that the State Department had hired any private firm to provide security at the American mission in Benghazi:
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the claim was made yesterday that a company that is a spinoff of Blackwater, in fact, proposed or contracted the United States Government for this particular kind of eventuality, and it was caught up in some sort of bureaucratic --
MS. NULAND: Completely untrue with regard to Libya. I checked that this morning. At no time did we plan to hire a private security company for Libya.
QUESTION: Toria, I just want to make sure I understood that, because I didn’t understand your first question. You said – your first answer. You said that at no time did you have contracts with private security companies in Libya?
MS. NULAND: Correct. [emphasis added]
Solid investigative reporting by Wired's Danger Room may have forced the State Department's hand to finally disclose the truth. On Monday, Danger Room strongly contradicted Nuland's claims:
The State Department signed a six-figure deal with a British firm to protect the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya just four months before a sustained attack on the compound killed four U.S. nationals inside.
Contrary to Friday’s claim by State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland that “at no time did we contract with a private security firm in Libya,” the department inked a contract for “security guards and patrol services” on May 3 for $387,413.68. An extension option brought the tab for protecting the consulate to $783,000. The contract lists only “foreign security awardees” as its recipient.
The State Department confirmed to Danger Room on Monday that the firm was Blue Mountain, a British company that provides “close protection; maritime security; surveillance and investigative services; and high risk static guarding and asset protection,” according to its website. Blue Mountain says it has “recently operated in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, the Caribbean and across Europe” and has worked in Libya for several months since last year’s war.
As Breitbart News reported on Tuesday, Blue Mountain Group is a British security firm hired by the State Department to provide security at the American mission in Benghazi. Blue Mountain Group was chosen by State, in part, because it was willing to accept the State Department Rules of Engagement for Libya that prohibited security guards at Benghazi from carrying weapons that contained bullets.
The State Department has refused to release the document that describes the State Department Rules of Engagement for Libya to Breitbart News. On Friday, Breitbart News filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain the document.