Many of you have reached out to me about the Benghazi terrorist attack on September 11, 2012, that resulted in the murder of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.
I share your deep concern over this issue. Eight months after the attack, we still don’t have the full story. In order to improve embassy security, increase the safety of our Foreign Service officers, and ensure the continued security of the American people, it is critical that we have all the answers.
This week, Mark Thompson, acting deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism at the State Department – who was in real-time communication with the team in Libya during the attack – testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He asserted the terrorist attack has been “misrepresented.” Additionally, while he had firsthand knowledge of how the attack unfolded, the independent Accountability Review Board (ARB) that the Secretary of State established never contacted him.
But the biggest omission from the ARB process was that Secretary Clinton herself and high-level State Department officials were never interviewed. While the Secretary publicly accepted responsibility, we still don’t have critical insight into the decisions at the highest levels leading up to and after the attack.
Although the ARB did provide some helpful recommendations regarding various State Department procedures, it stopped well-short of a full review of the policymakers, policies, and decisions made before, during, and after the events in Benghazi. For this reason, the House Foreign Affairs Committee plans to look at ways to create a more independent review body, should another tragic security incident like this ever happen again.
I want you to know that the House of Representatives has launched our own investigation. Recently, the five House Committees leading the investigation released their preliminary findings in an Interim Report.
Initial findings explain that in the year leading up to the terrorist attack, there were more than 200 security incidents in Libya – 50 of which were in Benghazi. Nonetheless, security levels were reduced. The report says these reductions were approved at the highest levels of the State Department.
To help get answers, I held a classified hearing in the Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations to examine our embassy security. In addition, the appropriations bill, which passed in March, increased funding levels by $2 billion for embassy security in order to give the State Department the resources they need to ensure Americans are safe abroad.
I’ll be in touch as I learn more about the situation. Please continue to reach out to me with your questions and concerns.
Member of Congress