Congressional Report Highly Critical of Security at US Consulate in Benghazi

A report released Monday by the Senate Homeland Security Committee lambasted the handling of security around the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya in September when a deadly attack took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

In the months leading up to the Sept. 11 attack, there was a "rising crescendo" of evidence from U.S. intelligence sources and State Department personnel that the situation was becoming dangerous and unstable, said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, one of the report's authors, in a press conference on Monday.

"The tragedy is, however, that the reaction to the flashing red indicators was woefully inadequate," said Leiberman.

The 31-page report, "Flashing Red: A Special Report On The Terrorist Attack At Benghazi," paints a picture of a vulnerable outpost in Libya's second-largest city, a place about which there was sufficient information available to U.S. officials to cause them to beef up security and where it was clear that the new post-Gadhafi government was unable to provide full protection to diplomatic staff.

Sen. Susan Collins, the ranking Republican member, said the Congressional investigation found that "terrorists essentially walked right into the Benghazi compound unimpeded and set it ablaze, due to extremely poor security in a threat environment."

Collins said the State Department failed to take adequate steps to reduce the facility's vulnerability to a terrorist attack of this kind.  

"While the Department and the Intelligence Community lacked specific intelligence about this attack, the State Department should not have waited for -- or expected --specific warnings before increasing its security in Benghazi, a city awash with weapons and violent extremists," she said. 

Both of the Senators said that, in the absence of sufficient security, the U.S. facility should have been closed.

The report noted that as the security situation deteriorated in eastern Libya in 2012, "the Department of State did not provide enough security to address the increased threats and did not adequately support field requests for additional security."

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