Ambassador Stevens' journal casts new light on the security breakdown.
When Islamic militants attacked the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11 of last year, a convoluted chain of events that authorities are still trying to make sense of was set into motion. Almost immediately, the attack—which took the lives of U.S. ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three others—became a political hot potato, as the American public sought to understand how and why this tragedy happened. Central to that understanding has been the work of former Navy SEAL Brandon Webb, former Army Ranger Jack Murphy, and their team at SOFREP.com. In their New York Times bestseller, Benghazi: The Definitive Report, Webb and Murphy detailed the lapses in leadership that led to this senseless loss of American lives and the political jockeying to avoid blame for the tragedy that followed. Now, for the first time—and in tandem with Maxim—SOFREP.com reveals what was going through Ambassador Stevens’ mind in the days and weeks leading up to his death.
By Brandon Webb and Jack Murphy
Photo: STR / AFP / Getty Images | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013
Much has been reported in the news about the Benghazi cover-up led by the Department of State. What you’re about to read has largely not been previously reported by the mainstream press. The editors of SOFREP have continued to uncover new information on Benghazi through our confidential sources within the CIA and the Department of State. Recently we received a scanned copy of Ambassador Stevens’ handwritten professional journal. The public has not seen this journal until now.
These agencies are not happy that we have this information and that we continue to dig for the truth. Fortunately for the citizens of this country, there are good people within these organizations who want the truth told and people held accountable. In the face of career expulsion they have come forward and taken a stand. We stand with them, and as we’ve said in the past, let the chips fall where they may.
Senior State Department leadership failed Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith, and the other Foreign Service officers serving in Libya by not providing adequate security. It can be argued that the White House also has some blame for Benghazi because the administration was pressing for a policy of “normalcy.” They were encouraging the State Department to project outwardly that everything was OK in the world after the terrorist mastermind UBL was dispensed with. Those who have served overseas in places like the Middle East, North Africa, and Afghanistan know this is naïve thinking. However, when you look at who the proverbial buck stops with, it is the under secretary of management, Patrick Kennedy, who had the ultimate responsibility to provide a minimum level of security protection for his personnel in Libya.
Washington’s Cult of Personality
According to our State Department sources, senior State leadership ignored subordinates’ repeated requests for increased security in Libya in the face of a rising threat level. It’s not such a well-known fact that while Benghazi was under siege the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli was also being evacuated due to poor security. We can only imagine the look on the Benghazi agents’ faces when they called Tripoli for help, only to realize that Tripoli was also concerned about their own self-preservation and would be of little help.
Another document not discussed in detail until now is called the SETL (Security Environment Threat List). The SETL assesses State Department facilities worldwide with regard to threat vulnerability. In theory it is used to allocate funding and security resources to high-threat State Department facilities. This is the same report that listed the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, as a medium-threat post before the 1998 terrorist bombings in Africa. Ambassador Prudence Bushnell had requested an increase in security at the U.S. Embassy in Kenya in 1997 but was denied upgrades by senior leadership because at the time Kenya was rated as only a medium-threat post.
Photo: Alexander Joe / AFP / Getty Images | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013
Only 14 State Department facilities, out of 264 globally, were ranked critical- or high-threat posts in 2011. Tripoli and Benghazi ranked in the top 10 out of 14, making them two of the most dangerous posts on the planet. Given this ranking, why weren’t the appropriate security resources allocated to them? Why wasn’t the SETL, a report that assesses security and vulnerabilities, mentioned during Accountability Review Board (ARB) investigation or in the first congressional testimony? These are all good questions that, in our opinion, need to be asked.
Using the SETL by itself, regardless of the unanswered requests for increased security, it would appear that there was gross negligence on the part of senior State Department leadership. They ignored the department’s own internal Vulnerability Assessment protocol.
Our sources at the State Department have also shockingly revealed that Patrick Kennedy, the under secretary of management, kept both Stevens’ professional journal and his personal laptop computer (both recovered from Libya) locked up in his office safe for close to a month before turning them over to the FBI. We’d like to know what Under Secretary Kennedy hoped to accomplish and what his motive was for holding on to these items for so long before turning them over to the FBI.
Photo: Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013
We were also not surprised to learn from sources within the department that former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, was requesting to meet with people before their scheduled interview with the ARB. For those of you not familiar, the ARB was set up to conduct an internal investigation on the Benghazi attack. Why would Secretary Clinton and Cheryl Mills want to interview people before they went before the internal ARB? It stinks of foul play.
And so it seems that before Mr. Kennedy and Mrs. Clinton could wash the blood of their colleagues off their own hands, they were busying themselves with a self-interest cover-up strategy that would protect the future careers of two Washington power players. It is behavior like this, regardless of political party, that has become a gross version of cult of personality in D.C., or Washington’s own version of “normalcy.”
About the authors: Brandon Webb is a former U.S. Navy SEA and Editor of SOFREP.com. Jack Murphy is a former US Army Ranger, and Special Forces soldier, and the managing editor of SOFREP.com. They are both authors of the New York Times bestseller Benghazi: The Definitive Report. To learn more about the Benghazi attack, and to see the analysis of Ambassador Stevens’ professional journal (previously unpublished) from September 6–11, 2012, visit SOFREP.com.
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