In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Tuesday morning, Republican leaders of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform laid out a timeline of events leading to the murder of four Americans at the U.S. embassy in Benghazi in September, asking her why the State Department had not acted in time to stop the violence.
The letter, signed by committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and subcommittee head Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), cited a pattern of violent incidents this year in Benghazi and Tripoli before the Sept. 11 attack on the embassy. Beginning in April, the list of 13 incidents included two Libyans tossing a small improvised explosive device over the embassy fence in Benghazi, an exchange of gunfire that led to the evacuation of a U.S. foreign service officer, and another IED attack that blew a hole ‚??big enough for forty men‚?Ě in the Benghazi consulate‚??s security perimeter.
According to the letter, other incidents in the months leading up to the Benghazi attack were even more portentous. U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, one of the Americans killed in the violence, had to briefly suspend his morning runs in June after a post on a ‚??pro-Gaddafi‚?Ě Facebook page posted a threat with a photo of him. Just weeks before the Benghazi attack, the Libyans guarding the consulate–employed by the British contracting firm Blue Mountain Group–were warned by family and friends to quit because of rumored threats, according to committee intelligence.
Issa and Chaffetz said the information to create their timeline was provided to their committee by those with direct knowledge of the events and the subsequent attack.
‚??It was clearly never, as Administration officials once insisted, the result of a popular protest,‚?Ě Issa said in a statement.
The congressmen are asking Clinton to provide a written response to the committee addressing whether the State Department knew about the security threats they cited, detailing any measures taken to ramp up security in Benghazi in accordance with the threats, and citing any requests for additional security made to the State Department by Embassy Tripoli.
Put together, these events indicated a clear pattern of security threats that could only be reasonably interpreted to justify increased security for U.S. personnel and facilities in Benghazi,‚?Ě they wrote.
The committee also published a photo showing the murdered ambassador‚??s burned-out car, with what appear to be bloodstains on the passenger seat and door.
Clinton has until Monday to respond to the letter.
The administration is already facing fire from all sides for leaping to the conclusion in the aftermath of the attacks that the violence was a spontaneous response to an amateur U.S.-made film satirizing the Muslim faith, and for spending too much energy denouncing the criticism of Islam and not enough investigating the events that led to the deaths of four Americans.