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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

U.S. security officer's request for more security in Benghazi got no response

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. security officer formerly stationed in Libya has told lawmakers he sent two cables to the State Department requesting more security agents for the American mission in Benghazi but received no response.

The officer, Eric Nordstrom, also said that a State Department official, Charlene Lamb, wanted to keep the number of U.S. security personnel in Benghazi "artificially low," according to a memo summarizing his comments that was obtained by Reuters.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Nordstrom's statements.

Nordstrom was interviewed by a congressional committee investigating the attack last month on the U.S. mission in Benghazi in which the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed.

The top U.S. intelligence authority, the office of the Director of National Intelligence, says the four Americans were killed in an organized terrorist assault, but the attackers have not been identified.
A brief summary of Nordstrom's interview with the Republican-controlled House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was contained in a memo prepared by the committee's minority Democratic staff.

Nordstrom, a State Department regional security officer, was based in Tripoli until about two months before the Benghazi attack, the memo said.

Nordstrom told lawmakers that Patrick Kennedy, the under secretary of state for management, issued a "decision memo" in December 2011 requiring that the Benghazi post be manned with five diplomatic security agents, but that it usually had only three or four.
"He (Nordstrom) stated that he sent two cables to State Department headquarters in March and July 2012 requesting additional Diplomatic Security Agents for Benghazi, but that he received no responses," the memo said. (Continues)

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