State Dept: Security At Libya Consulate Adequate [VIDEO]
State Department officials are telling Congress that security levels at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya were adequate for the threat level on the anniversary of 9/11. But they also said the compound was overrun by an "unprecedented attack" by dozens of heavily armed extremists.
Testifying before an election-season congressional hearing on alleged security failures at the consulate that led or contributed to the deaths of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, senior officials said the number of U.S. and local security guards at the compound was consistent with what had been requested by the post.
Deputy Secretary of State Charlene Lamb told the panel, quote, "We had the correct number of assets in Benghazi at the time of 9/11."
She's the State Department official in charge of protecting American embassies and consulates around the world.
Earlier, the former head of a 16-member U.S. military team in Libya told the House panel that the consulate never had the forces it needed to protect itself.
Lamb rejected allegations from Republican lawmakers, supported by Lt. Col. Andrew Wood, former head of a 16-member U.S. military team that helped protect the embassy in Tripoli, that an extension of Wood's mission could have made a difference during the attack.
"It would not have made any difference in Benghazi," Lamb said, pointing out that Wood's team was based in Tripoli and spent nearly all of its time there.
Wood, a member of the Utah National Guard who left Libya in August, told the committee that the security in Benghazi "was a struggle and remained a struggle throughout my time there."
In testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, he said that U.S. security was so weak that in April, only one diplomatic security agent was stationed in Benghazi.
However, Lamb and Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy stressed that the regional security officer's requests for personnel had been met.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)