State Dept. Still Won’t Say Why There Were No Marines at U.S. Consulate in Benghazi

September 25, 2012 - 5:17 PM

Benghazi

The scene at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 12, 2012. (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - The State Department still won’t answer some important questions relating to the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, including:

1) Who made the decision not to have any U.S. Marines at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi when it was attacked (by terrorists) on Sept. 11?

2) Were there any Marines at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli on Sept. 11?

3) How many of the 152 U.S. diplomatic posts around the world currently have Marine detachments for protection?

“We generally don’t discuss security procedures for the safety of our diplomatic missions and staff,” a State Department official told CNSNews.com last Friday, when we tried to ask those questions.

On Sept. 11, in what the Obama administration now says was a “terrorist attack,” the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and a nearby safe house were attacked and Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other embassy personnel were killed.

On Sept. 12, President Obama ordered a detachment of 50 U.S. Marines to Benghazi to secure the consulate.

On Sept. 16, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice confirmed to ABC News reporter Jake Tapper that there that there were no Marines stationed at the consulate or at the main U.S. embassy in Tripoli, despite the fact that Libya was in political transition after a revolt that overthrew dictator Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011.

“There are not Marines in every facility; that depends on the circumstances. That depends on the requirements,” Rice said. “Our presence in Tripoli, as in Benghazi, is relatively new, as you will recall. We’ve been back post-revolution only for a matter of months.”

But the Obama administration has basically refused to discuss issues related to security procedures on the record – and has refused to state how many of the 152 U.S. diplomatic posts around the world actually have Marine detachments for protection.

Last Wednesday, White House Secretary Jay Carney told journalists he would defer to the State Department to answer questions about why there weren't Marines at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and on questions dealing with security at U.S. embassies around the world.

The U.S. Marine Corps has also been mum. When asked whether there were Marines at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli before the Sept. 11 attacks, Marine Corps Public Affairs referred CNSNews.com to the State Department.

Last Friday, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters at her daily press briefing that she was not going to comment further on the Marines until the FBI investigation into the Sept. 11 attack and the State Department’s Accountability Review Board’s investigation are both complete.

She also refused to comment on reports, which first surfaced in British newspapers, that Ambassador Stevens had known before his death that he had been targeted by terrorists.

“So I am not going to comment on any of these things until we have the results of those investigations, which will tell us the answers to many of these questions that you’re asking,’ Nuland said.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as required by law, convened the Accountability Review Board (ARB) to conduct a full investigation on the Benghazi incidents.

“The ARB, under statute, is responsible for making written findings determining the extent to which the incident was security-related; whether security systems and security procedures at the mission were adequate; whether the security systems and security procedures were properly implemented; the impact of intelligence and available information; and any other facts or circumstances which can be relevant to the appropriate security management of U.S. missions abroad,” Clinton said.

There is no deadline for the Accountability Review Board to produce a report, but uland said that historically boards “have completed their work in an average of about 65 days.”