American drones were in the skies above the U.S. consulate in Benghazi as the deadly attack that killed ambassador Christopher Stevens unfolded, it has been revealed.
Defense department officials considered sending troops in to rescue the ambassador and staff, according to CBS News, but ultimately decided not to .
They would haven been able to watch the attack on-screen as it unfolded.
The revalations came a day after it emerged that U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens repeatedly pleaded with the State Department to ramp up his security team in Libya — requests that the Pentagon ultimately denied — in the weeks, days and hours leading up to the terrorist attack that killed him and three other Americans, newly released cables have revealed.
Stevens, who was killed in the 11 September attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, warned the State Department of a ‘security vacuum’ in Libya ‘that is being exploited by independent actors’ in one cable that described rapidly deteriorating security conditions.
‘Islamic extremists are able to attack the Red Cross with impunity,’ he wrote. ‘What we have seen are not random crimes of opportunity but rather targeted discriminate attacks.’
Stevens said the attackers would not be deterred ‘until authorities are at least as capable.’
Just hours before his death, he sent the Pentagon a cable describing ‘expanding Islamist influence in Dema,’ a town east of Benghazi, and said he was seeing a ‘troubling increase in violence and Islamist influence.’
Stevens recapped a meeting in which the commander of Benghazi’s Supreme Security Council told him there is ‘growing frustration with police and security forces.’
The cables were released by Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the chairman of the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is investigating the security matters surrounding Stevens’ death and questioning whether the State Department could have prevented the deadly attack.
Less than three weeks ahead of the presidential election, Republicans are using the cables to attack President Obama on his foreign policy, despite the State Department’s claim that it was solely responsible for the decisions to deny Stevens’ requests for more security in Libya.
‘These critical foreign policy decisions are not made by low or mid-level career officials — they are typically made through a structured and well-reasoned process that includes the National Security Council and the White House,’ Issa wrote in a letter to Obama on Friday.
The letter claims that Obama had a political motivation in rejecting Stevens’ security requests, since the president was eager to show improving conditions in Libya after the U.S.-led international operation that toppled Libya dictator Moamar Gadhafi.
On Aug. 2, six weeks before Stevens was killed, he requested ‘protective detail bodyguard’ positions, calling the security situation in Libya ‘unpredictable, volatile and violent.’
A month earlier, he requested that the State Department extend his tour of duty personnel, which is a 16-man temporary security team trained in combating terrorism. The request was denied and the security team left 8 August.
Stevens had asked for the security team to stay through mid-September.
Colonel Andrew Wood, the leader of the security team that left Libya in the weeks before the terror attack, told CBS News that Stevens fought hard against losing the team.
‘It was quite a degree of frustration on their part,’ he said. ‘They were — I guess you could say — clenched-fist over the whole issue.
Source: The Daily Mail