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Lost in the chaos of the post-Benghazi attack reporting and whether or not there was a video involved or terrorists or a demonstration or it was an outright assault on American interests and whether or not there was a stand-down order was a tidbit of information that has resurfaced in the latest Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act tranche of discovery level documents from the State Department.
The security firm hired to patrol the consulate in Benghazi was a little known company based in Wales called Blue Mountain Group. Â Blue Mountain hired locals without any formal security training as employees, and those employees regularly abandoned their posts because they didn’t feel safe. Â This was well known within the State Department via Blue Mountain’s own quality assurance reports, and according to the documents released by Judicial Watch this week, nothing was done to change it.
What is interesting about the headlines made this week as internal state department communications were finally unearthed is that the same basic story was reported by Reuters a week following that fateful night two years ago.
The State Department’s decision to hire Blue Mountain Group to guard the ill-fated U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, entrusted security tasks to a little-known British company instead of the large firms it usually uses in overseas danger zones.
Why, one might ask, given the obvious danger of having a consulate in hostile territory?
The contract was largely based on expediency, U.S. officials have said, since no one knew how long the temporary mission would remain in the Libyan city.
Well, then, that didn’t work out, did it? Â So why use this group rather than one of the eight much larger and fairly competent companies the U.S. normally contracts with?
Fred Burton, vice president of intelligence at the Stratfor consulting firm and a former U.S. diplomatic security agent, said he did not know Blue Mountain, but it likely got State Department work because it was already working in Libya.
“They may have been the path of least resistance,” he said.
Blue Mountain was able to work in Libya because it forged a business alliance with a local security firm, as required by Libyan regulations.
Eric Nordstrom, former regional security officer for the U.S. Embassy in Libya, testified at a congressional hearing last week [in 2012] that contracting out for security in the eastern Libyan city “was largely based on our concern of how long we would be in Benghazi. We were concerned that if we retained or brought on board full-time employees we would have to then find a position for them if that post ever went away.”
The government didn’t want to have to lay anybody off, so they took a short-cut when it came to security in Benghazi? Â No wonder all this got buried. Â Even then, the people looking at the security situation on the ground in Benghazi knew that Blue Mountain had high turnover and a severe job abandonment problem. Â And the Obama Administration stuck with Blue Mountain for months, rebuffing a formal request from Ambassador Chris Stevens for U.S. Military personnel instead? Â Regardless of what Stevens and Company were up to in that desert, this is asking for trouble, or as Judicial Watch’s Tim Fitton put it, made the people in the compound sitting ducks.
What is disturbing about the Reuters report is that in all the Congressional moves and efforts to get to the bottom of who ordered what, when and where, this “discovery” has been sitting in the public sphere for the last two years. Â The only difference is that now there is proof that the State Department had discussions about the situation amongst themselves and with the contractor. Â When it comes down to it, it sounds like the mission was not meant to be permanent, so no formal security measures were taken. Â That still doesn’t explain what Chris Stevens and his entourage were doing out there, but by not using the regular security companies and personnel – taking a short cut – this says that to the powers that be (whoever that is), these people were expendable.
Without getting too deep into the conspiracy theories, it’s very obvious that something not quite kosher was going on in Benghazi and the cover-up may well be to protect whatever secret that is. Â Whatever is the case, the people who truly do know the answer are not available for comment. Â Until that happens, or some whistle-blower with proof of something nefarious going on appears, a lot of time is going to be spent on FOIA requests, and splashy hearings that aren’t going to tell us much other than the State Department is willing to take security shortcuts with Americans’ lives when it is expedient.
This one is far from over. Â And just like everything else that’s been controversial at best and blatantly illegal at worst, the Obama Administration is going to stall and obfusticate until they are out of office.
For further reading on this topic, Ed Morrissey at HotAir is interesting today.