The heads of the Senate Homeland Security Committee called on the State Department's inspector general today to urgently investigate the security procedures and decisions at the Benghazi consulate before and during the attack on Sept. 11, as well as the personal security of Ambassador Chris Stevens, one of the four Americans killed in the assault.
"In light of the horrific attack against the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya and tragic death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American personnel there, we write to request that you conduct a thorough investigation of the Department's development of security requirements for the Benghazi Consulate as well as the resource decision-making process to provide security for this post," wrote Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and ranking Republican Susan Collins (R-ME), in a letter to State Department Acting Inspector General Harold Geisel that was obtained by The Cable.
"Upon completion of your findings, we urge you to provide recommendations to improve security at other diplomatic posts around the world, with a focus on smaller posts and non-permanent facilities established by the Department in post-conflict nations like Libya."
The senators want the inspector general's office to investigate whether there was adequate security at the Benghazi consulate, whether there was an established and clear process for determining security requirements at overseas posts and whether that process was followed in Benghazi.
Lieberman and Collins also want to know if it's true that the Libyan government told the U.S. government to move or increase security at the Benghazi consulate before the attacks, as Libyan Deputy Minister of the Interior Wasif al-Sharif reportedly said, whether the State Department beefed up security after a bomb exploded near the consulate in May, and how State vetted the local security forces, who may have been complicit in the attacks.
"The media has reported that one of the Foreign Service Officers killed in the attack, Sean Smith, may have expressed concern about the security provided by the local security forces hours before his death. Minister al-Sharif reportedly told media outlets that local security forces pointed extremists towards the annex site after U.S. personnel managed to escape the main compound," the senators wrote.
Lastly, the senators want the State Department to investigate the operational security procedures around Stevens and determine who might have known that he would be in the consulate at that time and why he didn't have more protection.
"Who is responsible for determining the security requirements, including personnel, equipment, and other assets, that are necessary to maintain the protection of the Chief of Mission and other personnel at each overseas facility, and was this procedure followed in Benghazi?" they wrote.
John Hudson reports on national security and foreign policy from the Pentagon to Foggy Bottom, the White House to Embassy Row, for The Cable.