Security Aid Denied, Says Panel's Head

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration failed to adequately protect the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, before a Sept. 11 attack that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, the head of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs said on Thursday at a public hearing.

The administration was warned about deteriorating security in Libya a month before the attack but denied repeated requests for additional protective measures, said Florida Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, committee chair.

Since the attack, the Obama administration has not been forthcoming about what happened, said Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Butler, who serves on the Foreign Affairs committee.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to testify before the committee, but not until early December.

"Because of the way the administration has handled this, almost everything people are wondering about is a possibility because they've never answered any questions," Kelly told the Tribune- Review after the hearing. "You start to wonder as an American citizen, not just a member of Congress."

Elsewhere on Capitol Hill on Thursday, members of the House and Senate Intelligence committees held closed-door hearings with high- level administration officials about the Benghazi attacks. Former CIA Director David Petraeus, who stepped down last week after admitting an extramarital affair, is scheduled to testify behind closed doors on Friday.

The United States "obviously" has many more soft targets around the world, and officials need to quickly assess what happened in the Benghazi attack, Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told the Trib.

"The reason it's so important to get to the bottom of this is bad guys are learning lessons from this just like we should be," Thornberry said. "So is another ambassador and another underprotected embassy or consulate at risk? Absolutely. They're trying to figure out how to do this again because they see this as a great success. That makes this a bigger thing."

The open forum of the Foreign Affairs hearing allowed lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to voice concerns about the attacks, the Obama administration's response and, at times, even the questioning from other members of Congress. …