The Dallas FBI’s Assistant Special Agent in Charge Kevin, F. Kolbye, served as the On-Scene Commander for the investigation into the deaths of the four Americans killed on September 11, 2012, following the terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya. He insists that FBI officials were already on the scene in Benghazi within two days following the attack, despite news reports saying the FBI did not arrive until weeks later.
“We have people in a lot of other foreign countries who are legats. We have investigative teams that are well equipped,” Kolbye told a small audience of attendees at the GovSec West Conference in Dallas, Texas.
Also known as legal attachés, “legats” within the FBI’s international program have been around for almost 70 years. According to the FBI’s website, the bureau has special agents and other personnel stationed overseas to provide security to Americans back home via “building relationships with principal law enforcement, intelligence, and security services around the globe that help ensure a prompt and continuous exchange of information.”
Located within the American Embassy in Algiers, an FBI legat office is situated to cover four different nations, including Libya. The Washington Post reported that while the FBI had legats in Agiers and Cairo, a team of FBI investigators could not get into Benghazi two days after the attack. Kolbye disputes this. “We were there,” he said.
Kolbye discussed the difference between previous administration’s and the current administration’s approach to handling overseas terrorist threats. He described the Bush administration as more “military” and “intelligence” action-oriented as opposed to the Obama administration. “The current administration does more ‘global justice’–to be fair. It wants to be transparent and take a law enforcement approach.”
Although the FBI has found numerous leads on social networks, including Facebook and Twitter, collecting “useful” evidence for the Benghazi investigation is a challenge for the bureau. Kolbye noted the work revolves around a country with no established infrastructure or laws that are enforced, which manifests itself in a lack of cooperation from the Libyan government, indifference from too many Libyan citizens refusing to talk, and lack of mobility.