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Senators call on State Department to investigate Benghazi security failures

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. ...

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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.

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.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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