Dems Blame House GOP for Lack of Security at U.S. Consulate in Benghazi

By Elizabeth Harrington | October 10, 2012 | 1:33 PM EDT

The U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya on fire in the early morning of Sept. 12, 2012. (AP)

( – House Democrats on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee used their opening statements today to blame Republicans for the lack of security in Benghazi, Libya, during a hearing on the security breaches surrounding the attack on the U.S. consulate last month, which killed four Americans, including the ambassador, and occurred on the anniversary of 9/11.

“The chairman has said that our committee will examine not only the Libya attack but security at outposts across the Middle East,” said Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) to Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who called the hearing today on Capitol Hill.

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“Mr. Chairman I fully support this effort,” Cummings said.  “And if that is our goal, we have to examine the funding.”

“The fact is, since 2011 the House has cut embassy security by hundreds of millions of dollars below the amounts requested by the president,” he said.  “The House has done that.”  The House of Representatives is dominated by 240 Republicans to 190 Democrats.

“The Senate restored some of these funds, but the final amounts are still far below the administration’s request,” said Cummings.  “And they were far below the levels we enacted in 2010.”

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes-Norton, Democrat, also pointed to House Republicans after Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said the deaths of Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans could have been prevented had normal security been in place.

“The tragic events in Benghazi point out the hazards of serving our country [and] go far beyond the military,” Holmes Norton said.  “I agree with Mr. Chaffetz that perhaps had there been more resources, we might have had a different result.”

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) (AP Photo)

“But I must note that while the Republican budget increases the budget of the Defense Department, it slashes the budget that would have protected these diplomats,” said Holmes-Norton.

Chaffetz had referenced two terrorist attacks in Libya prior to the attack on the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2012, saying those incidents should have raised cause for concern.

“I believe personally with more assets, more resources, just meeting the minimum standards we could’ve and should’ve saved the life of Ambassador Stevens and the other people that were there,” he said.

“Any reasonable person looking at the security situation in Libya had to come to the conclusion that it was tumultuous at best,” Chaffetz said.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) (AP)

As reported today, Issa and Chaffetz sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton concerning those attacks and related matters.  The first known attack against the consulate occurred on Apr. 6, five months before the Sept. 11 attack.

“Two Libyans who had been fired from a contractor providing unarmed static security for Consulate Benghazi, threw a small IED over the Consulate fence,” Issa and Chaffetz wrote in their letter to Clinton. “There were no casualties or damage and the suspects were arrested but not prosecuted.”

Another attack occurred on June 6. “Under cover of darkness, assailants placed an IED on the north gate of Consulate Benghazi, blowing a hole in the security perimeter that was described by one individual as ‘big enough for forty men to go through.’”

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