Benghazi's Security Fiasco

Benghazi's Security Fiasco

Among the nagging questions left in the wake of theterrorist attack against our special mission compound in Benghazi, Libya, iswhether or not more could have been done to save the lives of the four Americanswho were murdered, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Judicial Watch already exposed the Obama administration’slie that no military help was within striking distance by releasing an unclassified Navy map showing that the military had amultitude of forces in the region surrounding Libya at the time of the attack.

And now we learnthrough a JW investigation that there wereserious concerns about the security detail hired to protect the Benghazidiplomatic facility; serious enough that the firm was flagged as a “do nothire” by a key State Department security official.

On February 28, 2014, we obtained documentsfrom the U.S. Department of State revealing that Blue Mountain Group (BMG), thesecurity firm hired to protect the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, had lost atleast two previous private security contracts in Tripoli and was hired despitea warning from the Embassy Acting Regional Security Officer.

According to the documents, which we received in response toour February 25, 2013 FOIA lawsuit, on June 7, 2012, Tripoli ActingSecurity Regional Officer (ARSO) Jairo Saravia sent the following email to RSO David Oliveira (Temporary Duty Office to Benghazi atthe time) and others:

Just a quick note in regards toBlue Mountain. The company has lost several security contracts here in Tripoli,including the Corinthian Hotel and Palm City Complex. The latest information isBlue Mountain is not licensed by the GOL to provide security services in Libya.I would advise not to use their services to provide security for any of ourannexes and/or offices due to the sensitivity this issue has with the currentGOL.

A second emailthat same day, from RSO Greg Levin, apparently responding to the Saravia email,said that BMG did not have a licensing problem, but did not refute that it hadlost several security contracts in Tripoli. In fact, additional emails betweenState Department personnel in Libya sent that day suggest that licensing forsecurity firms had become an acknowledged problem, with one email stating, “Wehave got to get legal to change how licensing is done for contractors.”

The documents also reveal that in Benghazi in April 2012,there was almost a physical altercation between a BMG supervisor and a member of the Libyan MartyrsBrigade, a Libyan militia that was supposed to provide security at the Benghazicompound the day of the September 11, 2012 attacks. According to an April 18, 2012, email from ARSO TeresaCrowningshield to DS Program Manager Norm Floyd:

At 1130 hours, a verbal altercationoccurred between the Libyan February 17th Martyrs Brigade team member andMr.[REDACTED]. The team member then notified the brigade team leader of theincident, who then went to the gate to speak with [REDACTED]. At that time, asecond verbal altercation occurred between the three and [REDACTED] left thecompound. The team leader then came to the RSO office and reported theincident.

The team leader stated that[REDACTED] made an inappropriate comment with reference to Gaddafi. Then whenthe team leader came to speak with [REDACTED] he made derogatory commentsregarding the team leader’s mother. As the situation escalated to the point ofa likely physical confrontation, [REDACTED] left the compound.

So here we have a security detail with a checkered past, tosay the least, openly fighting with the Libyan security detail they weresupposed to train!

The role BMG played in protecting the security of the Benghazifacility first came to light shortly after the September 2012 terrorist attackwhen State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland emphatically denied that State had hired any private firm to provide securityat the American mission in Benghazi:

QUESTION: (Inaudible) the claim wasmade yesterday that a company that is a spinoff of Blackwater, in fact,proposed or contracted the United States Government for this particular kind ofeventuality, and it was caught up in some sort of bureaucratic –

MS. NULAND: Completely untrue withregard to Libya. I checked that this morning. At no time did we plan to hire a privatesecurity company for Libya.

QUESTION: Toria, I just want to makesure I understood that, because I didn’t understand your first question. Yousaid – your first answer. You said that at no time did you have contracts withprivate security companies in Libya?

MS. NULAND: Correct.

This exchange was one reason we decided to take a look atthe Blue Mountain Group. On December 19, 2012, we filed a FOIA request with theState Department seeking, “Any and all records regarding, concerning, orrelated to the $387,413.68 contract awarded by the Department of State to anunidentified foreign awardee for ‘Security Guards and Patrol Services.'” When State refused to comply with the FOIArequest, JW filed its February 25, 2013 lawsuit which resulted in thedocuments revealing the BMG had lost previous security contracts in Libya. (JWearlier obtained the BMG contractitself – the one Nuland said did not exist.)

While JW was exposing the red flags raised by the BlueMountain Group, acting CIA Director Mike Morell’s testimony before Congressinspired outrage from people who were on the ground in Libya during the attack.Per Fox News:

Sources on the ground in Benghaziduring the 2012 terror attack are pushing back hard on former CIA actingdirector Mike Morell’s testimony on Capitol Hill, where he defended his role inshaping the administration’s narrative and claimed politics were not involved.

As part of Morell’s testimony onWednesday, the former acting and deputy CIA director acknowledged that heoverruled the guidance of the top CIA officer in Libya at the time. Thatofficial told Morell the attack was not an “escalation of protests,”but Morell said he had to weigh that against analysts who concluded theopposite. He ultimately went with the analysts — whose assessment later turnedout to be flawed — saying the chief of station’s report was not

Folks, something is rotten here.

Why on earth would Morell choose to trust the word ofthe pulse of what was happening moment by moment at the Benghazi mission?

And “loose evidence”? Was it any looser than the evidencetying the attacks to an obscure Internet video? That’s the narrative the Obama administration fed us.And based on what?

The fact is, any intelligence officer worth his saltwouldn’t have such a horrible error in judgment. So what conclusion are wesupposed to draw about this testimony?

It certainly seems to me that Morell is covering for somepolitical operative inside the Obama administration who made the decision todownplay the terrorist connection to these attacks because it might havedisrupted the president’s re-election campaign. Of maybe he is the political operative? Morell did little this week to excuse his false information andobstruction on Benghazi. If it were any other administration, there’dbe an independent criminal investigation already underway.

What a mess. A year-and-a half after the attacks and we areall still in the dark about what really happened at Benghazi. Administration officials lied about theterrorist connection to the attack. They lied about the availability of military support that could have potentially saved lives. They lied aboutthe security firm hired to protect our personnel, which we now know had a trackrecord of failure.

And then we have this bizarre testimony from the nation’sformer top intelligence officer suggesting he simply didn’t know that it wasbetter to trust intelligence on the ground than “analysts” sequestered in acubicle.

No wonder we have to battle in court for the most basicinformation. And it certainly doesn’t help matters that Republicans in Congresshave been asleep at the switch,failing to use the full investigative powers available to them to uncover the truthfor the American people.