Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Benghazi Investigation

            After U.S. government officials were able to investigate the compound in Benghazi sensitive information remained scattered on the floor and reporters have recovered some of this information. Sensitive information was lost after the attack, but the government officials responsible for protecting this information do not appear to have been concerned about this situation. The efforts to secure the compound seemed halfhearted.

            On 13 September a reporter for the Guardian found a letter in the Benghazi compound from Ambassador Stevens which read, "For security reasons, we'll need to be careful about limiting moves off compound and scheduling as many meetings as possible in the villa."  On 14 September 2012 a CNN reporter found the Ambassador's journal on the floor of the compound where the Ambassador was “fatally wounded.” On October 3, 2012 a Washington Post reporter gathered a sampling of documents scattered on the floor of the facility.  "The documents detail weapons collection efforts, emergency evacuation protocols, the full internal itinerary of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens’ trip to the city and the personnel records of Libyans who were contracted to secure the mission."

            Finally the FBI arrived in Libya to conduct its investigation on October 3.  They spent approximately 12 hours in Benghazi. One witness claimed the spent only three hours at the compound. How thorough was their investigation?  Attorney General Holder announced, "I'm satisfied with the progress."  On October 26th a Foreign Policy Magazine reporter visited the compound for a story for Dubai based Al Aan TV. He found several ash-strewn documents beneath the rubble of the compound.  One letter dated 9 September addressed to the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs dealt with a concern about a Libyan policeman photographing the inside of the compound and the lack of police protection.

            Well after the FBI conducted its investigation the compound still contained sensitive information.  Obviously the first people to have access to this information were the attackers.  What did they learn about our “weapons collection efforts?”  Could our “emergency evacuation protocols” give them vital information for future attacks?  The exposure of personnel records of Libyans cooperating with the U.S. could be fatal. Would this give people willing to cooperate with the U.S. second thoughts.  What other documents were available to the attackers?