Attackers or Terrorists? State Dept. Security Chief: 'I'm Not Making Any Judgments'

October 10, 2012 - 2:58 PM

Charlene Lamb

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Charlene Lamb testifies before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012 (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary of International Programs Charlene R. Lamb, who is responsible for safety and security at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world, used the word "attack" five times and "attackers" four times in her written testimony describing the 9/11 terrorist strike on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, but never used any derivative of the word "terror."

When Rep. Dan Burton (R.-Ind.) asked why she did not call the terrorist attack "terrorism," Lamb said: "I'm not making any judgments on my own."

Lamb, as her State Department bio reads, is "responsible for the safety and security of over 285 overseas Embassies and Consulates and oversees the 550 special agent/security professionals posted at those locations."

In written testimony submitted to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Lamb described the 9/11 terrorist hit on consulate in Benghazi as follows:

-- "Additionally, I was in our Diplomatic Security Command Center monitoring multiple open lines with our agents for much of the attack." (Emphasis added.)

-- "The attack began at approximately 9:40 p.m. local time."

-- "Let me add here that over the course of the attack, two local Libyan security personnel were beaten, and two were shot."

-- "When the attack began ...."

-- "Dozens of attackers then launched a full-scale assault that was unprecedented in its size and intensity."

-- "When they attempted to return to the main building, they encountered armed attackers and doubled back to Building B."

-- "The attackers used diesel fuel to set the main building ablaze."

-- "At the same time, attackers swept across the compound towards the Tactical Operations Center and Building B."

At no time in her prepared testimony did Lamb ever refer to a terrorist act or terrorist attacker. She never described the perpetrators as terrorists.

Rep. Burton (R-Ind.) questioned her on her choice of language. “Today as I listen to people, and you, Ms. Lamb, have said you’ve described these attackers in a number of ways, but you don’t mention terrorist at all," said Burton. "Why is that?

“The compound had been attacked once before and breached, and these people had all these weapons, projectiles, grenades, all kinds of weapons," Burton continued. "Why would you call this anything but a terrorist attack? Why do you call them attackers?”

“Sir, I have just presented the facts as they come across,” Lamb said. “I am not making any judgments on my own.”

Lamb, as noted, called the events a “full-scale assault that was unprecedented in its size and intensity.”

For days following the attack, the White House said it was “spontaneous,” resulting from protests against an anti-Islamic YouTube video. On Sept. 21, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said it was “self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack.”