When Ambassador Chris Stevens was planning to visit Benghazi last September, the February 17 Martyrs Brigade, which the State Department had hired to help protect Americans there, delivered a message: They were no longer going to support the movement of U.S. personnel in the city -- including the movement of Stevens.
"In addition," said a report released last week by the chairmen of the House committees on Foreign Relations, Oversight, Armed Services, Judiciary, and Intelligence, "on Sept. 8, 2012, just days before Ambassador Stevens arrived in Benghazi, the February 17 Martyrs Brigade told State Department officials that the group would no longer support U.S. movements in the city, including the ambassador's visit."
A footnote in the report attributes this information to an internal State Department email. The footnote says: "Email from Alec Henderson to John B. Martinec, 'RE: Benghazi QRF agreement,' (Sep. 9, 2012, 11:31 p.m.)."
Martinec was then the State Department's regional security officer (RSO) at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli and, thus, the ambassador's top security adviser.
Despite this email, Stevens went ahead with his trip to Benghazi, arriving there on Sept. 10. At the time, there were three State Department diplomatic security officers deployed on temporary duty at the department's Benghazi mission. Stevens brought another two with him from Tripoli -- bringing the total State Department security contingent in Benghazi to five people.
"The Board found that Ambassador Stevens made the decision to travel to Benghazi independently of Washington, per standard practice," said the State Department's Accountability Review Board report released on Dec. 18."
"Plans for the ambassador's trip provided for minimal close protection security support and were not shared thoroughly with the embassy's country team, who were not fully aware of planned movements off compound," said the ARB report.
On Oct. 10, 2012, the House Oversight and Governmental Reform Committee took testimony from Eric Nordstrom, who served as the RSO at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli from Sept. 21, 2011, until July 26, 2012 -- leaving the country six weeks before the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack. The committee did not take testimony from John Martinec, who was RSO at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli on Sept. 11, 2012.
Nor has any congressional committee taken testimony from the five State Department Diplomatic Security officers in Benghazi with Stevens on Sept. 11, 2012.
Why not? These are American heroes. Why can't America hear their stories?
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