US staff in Benghazi held an emergency meeting to discuss security issues less than a month prior to the deadly 9/11 attack. A cable summarizing the meeting warned of the compound’s vulnerability to a “coordinated attack” and indicated that additional security was needed and would be requested.
Last night Catherine Herridge of Fox News revealed contents of a secret August 16th cable which she described as “the smoking gun warning.” Herridge revealed that an August 15th emergency meeting of US staff in Benghazi pointed out the consulate’s vulnerability to exactly the kind of attack which would take place three weeks later. The cable reads in part “RSO (Regional Security Officer) expressed concerns with the ability todefend Post in the event of a coordinated attack due to limitedmanpower, security measures, weapons capabilities, host nation support,and the overall size of the compound.”
The lack of security was a growing concern in Benghazi. During the August 15th meeting, US staff were briefed on ten militant training camps which were operating outside the city. These included camps run by Ansar al-Sharia, the group now believed to be responsible for the deadly 9/11 attack which killed four Americans including Ambassador Stevens.
The cable was unambiguous about the need for additional security to protect the Benghazi outpost, “In light of the uncertain security environment, US Mission Benghazi willsubmit specific requests to US Embassy Tripoli for additional physicalsecurity upgrades and staffing needs by separate cover.”
In testimony before Congress last month, Ambassador Kennedy repeatedly said there was no “actionable intelligence” that would have led analysts in DC to conclude more security was necessary in Benghazi. While the secret cable does not reveal any specific threats, the general picture of increasing militant activity which could potentially overwhelm the consulate’s poor defenses is clear.