Feinstein's 'Biggest Concern': 'Why Wasn't Something Done About' Security in Benghazi?

November 12, 2012 - 7:44 AM

Benghazi

Ruins of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, after the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack. (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate intelligence committee, says her "biggest concern" about the Sept. 11 terror attack in Benghazi is the lack of security, despite numerous threats:

"There are literally hundreds of threat warnings in the material that has been accumulated. There were five attacks during the year, one prior attack on the consulate itself. The question I have is, you know, why wasn't something done about it?" Feinstein (D-Calif.) told "Fox News Sunday."

The senator said the Obama administration had "many options," including recalling Ambassador Chris Stevens and getting his "personal assessment" of security in Libya.

"The second is, to immediately beef things up in a major way. Changes were made, but the changes were not major. What's clear to me -- and I went to the memorial service in San Francisco for Chris Stevens. The Libyan ambassador to the United States spoke, and twice during his remarks, he said, "I am so sorry that we could not protect your consulate" -- which is a total admission that the Libyan government was incapable of protecting our facilities.

"This raises a major question for the future. We have 285 embassies and consulates over the world. And, the threats pour in. What do we do?"

Feinstein's committee will hold a closed-door hearing on the attacks in Benghazi on Thursday.

Asked if she thinks U.S. officials had sufficient warning to boost security in Libya before Sept. 11, Feinstein said "That is the purpose of our inquiry. And that decision will be made by the committee. I have not had an opportunity get to go through what are thousands of pages. And, I -- you know, I want to do that. I want other members to do it. I don't want to jump to any conclusion."

"So we want to see what the extenuating circumstances are, that the security wasn't beefed by us, if it couldn't be beefed up by the Libyans or we didn't close down the consulate."

As for the U.S. failure to protect Americans who took refuge at the CIA annex in Benghazi -- and who remained alive hours after the initial attack on the consulate -- Feinstein said that is an "important question and it must be answered."

Feinstein said she doesn't think politics had anything to do with the Obama administration's early and repeated claim that an obscure anti-Islam video prompted the attack in Benghazi:

"I don't think it had anything to do with politics. I do think it had something to do with our assessment. And, you know, my view is very simple and very direct. The minute you know mortars were used, the minute you know RPGs are used, it's either a terrorist attack or it's a military attack. Those are the only two things it could be."

Feinstin said "prior incidents" in Libya will give her a "good assessment" of whether there was a "high likelihood" that U.S. interests would be attacked.