The Independent, normally a fairly left wing British outlet has published an embarrassing report claiming exactly that:
The killings of the US ambassador to Libya and three of his staff were likely to have been the result of a serious and continuing security breach, The Independent can reveal.
American officials believe the attack was planned, but Chris Stevens had been back in the country only a short while and the details of his visit to Benghazi, where he and his staff died, were meant to be confidential.
The US administration is now facing a crisis in Libya. Sensitive documents have gone missing from the consulate in Benghazi and the supposedly secret location of the "safe house" in the city, where the staff had retreated, came under sustained mortar attack. Other such refuges across the country are no longer deemed "safe".
Some of the missing papers from the consulate are said to list names of Libyans who are working with Americans, putting them potentially at risk from extremist groups, while some of the other documents are said to relate to oil contracts.
According to senior diplomatic sources, the US State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and "lockdown", under which movement is severely restricted.
According to security sources the consulate had been given a “health check” in preparation for any violence connected to the 9/11 anniversary. In the event, the perimeter was breached within 15 minutes of an angry crowd starting to attack it at around 10pm on Tuesday night. There was, according to witnesses, little defence put up by the 30 or more local guards meant to protect the staff. Ali Fetori, a 59-year-old accountant who lives near by, said: “The security people just all ran away and the people in charge were the young men with guns and bombs.”
Okay. Let's take a good look at this in the light of what we already know happened.
It is apparently a fact that Ambassador Stevens' return to Benghazi was confidential and not generally known, and that the attack occurred shortly after he returned. It's also a fact that the attack was quite obviously premeditated and planned.
Our own Under-Secretary at the State Department Patrick Kennedy along with a number of other officials has said he was convinced the assault was planned due to the extensive nature and the proliferation of weapons.And Imight add, the concentration on a specific target. Even in Benghazi, you can't just get people to show up brandishing RPGs and automatic weapons at a moment's notice.
Another interesting factoid that's come up is that this might have been a revenge attack for the drone killing of Abu Yahya al-Libi a while ago, who was recently eulogized in a video released by the current head of al-Qaeda, Aymanal-Zawahiri. Al-Libi's stage name indicated that he was of Libyan origin. That video was released on jihadi websites on 9/11, and may very well have been the signal for the festivities to start.
There remains the possibility that Stevens simply happened to just be in Benghazi on 9/11, but that would seem to be a huge coincidence, given that Benghazi is well known as a salafist and al-Qaeda stronghold. You would think of all days to steer clear of the unfortified consulate, it would be 9/11, which many Muslims regard as a day to celebrate a victory over the west and America.
The bit about the 'health check' is also puzzling. You have to wonder exactly what they checked and why. The security was limited to one locked door, the Libyan security people ran away and according to several reports actually told the rioters where the Americans were hiding after they were taken to a supposedly secret safe house. There were a few marines ( two were murdered) but they apparently weren't armed or able to defend themselves.
And if a 'health check' was performed prior to 9/11, it does seem to suggest that there was at least some credible info that had surfaced. Why weren't the personnel put into lockdown at a place they could be better defended?
As far as the other allegations, that there was a major security breech that secret documents were stolen and that the jihadis now know exactly whom in Libya was working with the Americans - well, if it wasn't true before, it certainly is now.
What convinces me more than ever that this was a massive screw up is the way the Obama Administration denied it.
Here's their statement:
Shawn Turner, spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, emailed: “This is absolutely wrong. We are not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent.”
Notice a couple of things. First, the 'we are not aware' leaves far too much wiggle room for plausible deniability. If there was no intel and they were certain of it, they would have had no problems saying so.
Second,the story from the Independent never said the U.S. had “actionable intelligence" about a planned attack on the Benghazi consulate. It said that there was credible information 48 hours before that American missions might be targeted on 9/11.
To those familiar with intelligence lingo, the two are night and day, and I expect that whomever crafted this nonsense knows it quite well. “Actionable intelligence" is intel gold, usually from a reliable spy or informant or intercepted communications that gives specific details of an ongoing, active operation.Credible information is a step down the ladder, is much more generalized and merely indicates the possibility that one or more targets might be hit or at risk.
Actionable intelligence, as its name implies, is information that is specific enough to lead to proactive remedies like arrests, raids, or a drone strike. Credible information is a warning signal that normally leads to extra precaution, vigilance and the avoidance of obvious risks.
This 'denial' strikes me as nothing less than an attempt at CYA, because someone should have made sure that the American personnel were not left at risk in a vulnerable unsecured consulate in a place like Benghazi guarded by unreliable Libyan security.
The media obviously won't investigate what looks like a massive screwup unless they're forced to by events, and the Obama Administration definitely won't.
It will be left to congress to get to the bottom of this swamp.