Exclusive: Classified cable shows Benghazi consulate considered suspending operations, moving in with CIA
Nov 03, 2012 4:15 AM EDT
The U.S. mission in Benghazi, at an “emergency meeting” less than a month before the Sept. 11 attack, drafted a contingency plan to suspend operations as security deteriorated — and in the near-term, recommended that consulate operations be moved to the CIA annex about a mile away, according to a classified cable reviewed by Fox News.
The State Department’s senior representative at the consulate told those at the Aug. 15 meeting that the security situation was “trending negatively” and reported “this daily pattern of violence would be the ‘new normal’ for the foreseeable future, particularly given the minimal capabilities” of the Libyan security forces.
With no apparent reason to believe conditions would improve, the cable notified the office of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the “Emergency Action Committee” was updating “Post’s tripwires in light of the deteriorating security situation … to include a ‘suspension of operations’ section.”
The term “tripwire” refers to lines in the sand which, if crossed, cover personnel levels, security measures, and in this case, the extreme step of suspending operations.
The cable marked “SECRET” also said, of the possibility of moving the consulate operations: “Mission personnel could co-locate to the Annex (CIA outpost) if the security environment degraded suddenly. … (There was agreement) to formal weekly meetings to discuss the security environment. … In the longer term, we believe formal collocation with the (Annex) will greatly improve our security situation.”
The warnings reflected a grave concern among officials on the ground that the Libyan militia charged with protecting the consulate had been compromised, perhaps even infiltrated by extremists.