‘Troubling’ Surveillance Before Benghazi Attack

From the November 1 edition of FOREIGN POLICY

BY HARALD DOORNBOS, JENAN MOUSSA

H/T Twitchy

BENGHAZI, Libya — More than six weeks after the shocking assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi — and nearly a month after an FBI team arrived to collect evidence about the attack – the battle-scarred, fire-damaged compound where Ambassador Chris Stevens and another Foreign Service officer lost their lives on Sept. 11 still holds sensitive documents and other relics of that traumatic final day, including drafts of two letters worrying that the compound was under “troubling” surveillance and complaining that the Libyan government failed to fulfill requests for additional security.

When we visited on Oct. 26 to prepare a story for Dubai based Al Aan TV, we found not only Stevens’s personal copy of the Aug. 6 New Yorker, lying on remnants of the bed in the safe room where Stevens spent his final hours, but several ash-strewn documents beneath rubble in the looted Tactical Operations Center, one of the four main buildings of the partially destroyed compound. Some of the documents — such as an email from Stevens to his political officer in Benghazi and a flight itinerary sent to Sean Smith, a U.S. diplomat slain in the attack — are clearly marked as State Department correspondence. 

Others are unsigned printouts of messages to local and national Libyan authorities. The two unsigned draft letters are both dated Sept. 11 and express strong fears about the security situation at the compound on what would turn out to be a tragic day. They also indicate that Stevens and his team had officially requested additional security at the Benghazi compound for his visit — and that they apparently did not feel it was being provided.

One letter, written on Sept. 11 and addressed to Mohamed Obeidi, the head of the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ office in Benghazi, reads:

“Finally, early this morning at 0643, September 11, 2012, one of our diligent guards made a troubling report. Near our main gate, a member of the police force was seen in the upper level of a building across from our compound. It is reported that this person was photographing the inside of the U.S. special mission and furthermore that this person was part of the police unit sent to protect the mission. The police car stationed where this event occurred was number 322.”

Obeidi, the Libyan official named on one of the printouts, said he had not received any such letter, adding, “I did not even know that the U.S. ambassador was visiting Benghazi.” However, a spokesman for the Benghazi police confirmed that the ministry had notified the police of the ambassador’s visit. “We did not receive that letter from the U.S. consulate. We received a letter from Ministry of Foreign Affairs Benghazi asking for additional security measures around consulate during visit of the ambassador. And the police provided all extra security which was asked for,” the spokesman said.

{The article goes into heartbreaking detail of numerous requests to the Libyan officials for more protection which never  arrived, but describes increased Police surveillance by the Libyans instead. Then continues…}

These letters were found a month and a half after the attack, despite a visit to the compound by FBI investigators. Other documents found at the TOC building include a printout of an unclassified Sept. 9 email between Stevens and David McFarland, the head of the U.S. Embassy’s political and economic section, inquiring about meetings for the ambassador’s upcoming visit; telephone numbers and names of embassy staff; and a hotel bill from Stevens’ 2011 stay at the Tibesti Hotel in Benghazi.

The continued threat to U.S. personnel in Benghazi may be the reason these documents escaped the FBI’s attention. With suspected militants still roaming the streets, FBI investigators only had limited time to check the consulate compound. According to a Benghazi resident who resides near the consulate, the FBI team spent only three hours examining the compound.

The FBI declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

… 

Villa C, which was used as Stevens’ residence during his stay in Benghazi, is located 50 meters from the TOC building. Here, an open window leads to the safe haven — a sealed-off part of Villa C where Stevens and Smith suffocated to death. On the destroyed bed lay the Aug. 6, 2012, copy of the New Yorker. The magazine’s cover carries a label with Stevens’s name and his diplomatic mailing address.

A few meters to the right is the safe haven’s bathroom. Everything here is blackened by smoke. One of the two white toilets is covered with bloodstains. On the mirror in the bathroom, an unknown person has written a macabre text in a thin layer of ash. “I am Chris from the dead,” it reads.

Read the entire article here at FOREIGN POLICY which goes into the aforementioned detail and raises many more serious questions

 

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