U.S. officials denied calls for more security at its Benghazi consulate despite attacks on Westerners in the city in the weeks before the mission was hit by militants, top Republicans charged Tuesday.
The U.S. mission in Libya had made “repeated requests for increased security” but they were ignored by Washington, said Representative Darrell Issa, chairman of the House oversight and government reform committee.
Amid mounting questions over how the U.S. mission in Benghazi came under attack on Sept. 11 leading to the deaths of four Americans, Mr. Issa said he would call an Oct. 10 hearing of his watchdog committee to seek answers.
In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he detailed a series of attacks on U.S. personnel and other Westerners in the months leading up to the assault, in which ambassador Chris Stevens and three others died.
“Multiple U.S. federal government officials have confirmed to the committee that, prior to the Sept. 11 attack, the U.S. mission in Libya made repeated requests for increased security in Benghazi,” Mr. Issa said in his letter, co-signed by Republican congressman Jason Chaffetz.
“The mission in Libya, however, was denied these resources in Washington.”
Was the State Department aware of about a dozen other security incidents, including in April when a small homemade device was thrown over the consulate’s fence and a June 6 bomb attack when a hole was blown in the north gate, the two lawmakers asked in the letter.
They also demanded to know what measures had been taken to boost security and a detailed list of any requests by the U.S. embassy in Tripoli for extra security and the department’s response.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Ms. Clinton had received the lawmakers’ letter and would be replying Tuesday.
“Her letter will make absolutely clear the desire of this department – her personal desire – to co-operate closely with the committee and with all members of Congress,” Ms. Nuland told reporters.
Ms. Nuland again refused to address thorny questions around the security at the consulate, saying “that’s going to be part of the process that we have to go through in this building.
“We are currently amassing all of the documents, all of the information that we had before, during, after, so that we can be responsive. But I don’t have all the answers today.”
Ms. Clinton has launched an internal review into whether there were any security lapses at the consulate, while the FBI and the Libyan authorities are carrying out separate investigations into the attack.
With the launch of the probes, U.S. agencies have clamped down on information, refusing to reveal even the tiniest details about the attack and its perpetrators.