The evidence of catastrophic lapses in judgment within the Obama Administration, in the run-up to the September 11 attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, continues to mount.Â While Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues to stall congressional investigators with tales of bizarrely lengthy â??internal investigationâ?ť that must be completed first, ABC News has uncovered an internal State Department email from May 3, 2012, â??indicating that the State Department denied a request from the security team at the Embassy of Libya to retain a DC-3 airplane in the country to better conduct their duties.â?ť
Slain American ambassador Christopher Stevens was copied on this email.
ABC News reporter Jake Tapper discusses the significance of this discovery:
No one has yet to argue that the DC-3 would have definitively made a difference for the four Americans killed that night. The security team in question, after all, left Libya in August.
But the question â?? both for the State Department, which is conducting an internal investigation, and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is holding hearings next week â?? is whether officials in Washington, D.C., specifically at the State Department, were as aware as they should have been about the deteriorating security situation in Libya, and whether officials were doing everything they could to protect Americans in that country.
Whistleblower testimony to the House Oversight Committee has already revealed 13 violent incidents in Benghazi in the months leading up to the attack, including several directed at the U.S. consulate itself.Â The House Oversight Committee wants to know if State was aware of these incidents, and if so, why they evidently reduced security for the American diplomatic mission in Libya.
ABC News gave copies of the email to both the State Department and House Oversight.Â State said it was no big deal, arguing that the aircraft was only temporarily deployed to Libya during a period when commercial air travel was difficult to obtain.Â However, it appears this plan was tasked with moving security personnel and equipment rapidly within Libya during times of emergency.
A House Oversight spokesman said this email â??is consistent with what the Oversight Committee has been told by individuals who worked in Libya. Ambassador Stevens and the diplomatic mission in Libya made multiple security related requests that were turned down by Washington based officials. Â Security related transportation has been identified as one of the particular items where embassy personnel did not receive the support they sought.â?ť
The Oversight spokesman didnâ??t think much of the State Departmentâ??s dismissal of the email, saying their â??naive determination to follow rigid bureaucratic policies, instead of making common sense decisions that took the serious threat of terrorism conveyed by those on the ground into account, appears to have been a significant factor in the Benghazi Consulateâ??s lack of preparedness.â?ť
Meanwhile, the FBI â?? whose pending investigation was repeatedly cited by the Obama Administration as the reason they canâ??t discuss details about the Benghazi attack â?? finally made it to that troubled city, weeks after the attack.Â They spent a grand total of three hours gathering evidence, then departed.
A McClatchy Newspapers report says â??the State Department took nearly three weeks to formally request U.S. military protection for FBI agents.â?ťÂ State denies this report, but obviously itâ??s more than a little weird that the FBI had to cool its heels in Tripoli for weeks, while free-range journalists grazed through the ruins of the Benghazi consulate.