New documents obtained by the Washington D.C. watchdog group Judicial Watch show a State Department official ordered an executive at the security company in charge of protecting the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya not to respond to media inquiries regarding the September 11, 2012 attack on the compound.
One of the documents is a September 26, 2012 email from a State Department contracting officer named Jan Visintainer to an unnamed executive at Blue Mountain Group (BMG), the British company hired to secure the U.S. mission in Benghazi. Visintainer writes: “Thank you so much for informing us about the media inquiries. We notified our public affairs personnel that they too may receive some questions. We concur with you that at the moment the best way to deal with the inquiries is to either be silent or provide no comments.”
Some of the requested documents, according to JW, were redacted or not included. In one instance, Visintainer received a cryptic email just two days before the attack from a redacted source with an attachment. This attachment was not given to JW by the State Department.
The e-mail exchange, received much attention from the State Department and BMG, which may show the exchange contained a specific concern or warning about the U.S. compound’s security weaknesses. Fox News reported around the same time of the Sept. 26 email that Visintainer did not want to intervene in a dispute between security personnel on the ground in Benghazi after complaints arose the security agreement with BMG would not work.
The letters pertain to a dispute between Blue Mountain Libya, the security license holder in Libya, and its operations partner Blue Mountain UK, which trained and provided the local guards.
A source with knowledge of two State Department meetings — one in June and a second in July — told Fox News that Blue Mountain Libya felt the security provided by the UK partner was “substandard and the situation was unworkable.”
But according to the source, when the Libyans tried to bring in a third party — an American contractor — to improve security, a State Department contract officer declined to get involved.
It should be noted that in a letter from Visintainer to BMG on July 10, 2012, he wrote: “The U.S. government is not required to mediate any disagreements between the two parties of the Blue Mountain Libya Partnership (adding that to date)…contract performance is satisfactory.”
In response to the letter, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland told reporters that the State Department Accountability Review Board would have to address questions relating to the letter. BMG, an unknown and inexperienced security contractor was paid $794,264 by the State Department to protect the U.S. consulate in Benghazi for almost 50,000 guard hours. “The Benghazi security deal had not been available to the public because it was not listed as part of the large master State Department contract that covers protection for overseas embassies. JW had to take legal action to get it,” JW says.
The deal is for one year and includes very specific requirements for things like foot patrols, package inspection, contingency and mobilization planning. The total guard force was 45,880 with an additional 1,376 guards for “emergency services,” the contract shows. It also includes one vehicle and 12 radio networks. The guards were responsible for protecting the U.S. government personnel, facilities and equipment from damage or loss, the contract states. “The local guard force shall prevent unauthorized access; protect life; maintain order; deter criminal attacks against employees; dependents and property terrorist acts against all U.S. assets and prevent damage to government property.”
A public congressional hearing on Benghazi has not happened since September and another hearing is not currently scheduled to investigate the attack, despite calls from some Republican members, like Rep. Frank Wolf (R -VA), that a Select Committee should be appointed to investigate the attack.