Washington: US diplomats in Libya made repeated requests for increased security for the consulate in Benghazi before it was attacked last month, but they were turned down by officials in Washington, leaders of a Congressional committee said on Tuesday.
In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Reps Darrell Issa and Jason Chaffetz said their information came from "individuals with direct knowledge of events in Libya."
The two Republicans said the September 11 attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans was the latest in a long line of attacks on Western diplomats and officials in Libya in recent months.
Stevens was the first sitting US ambassador to be killed in more than 30 years.
The lawmakers asked Clinton whether the State Department was aware of the previous incidents, whether the level of security that was provided to the US mission met the security threat and how the department responded to requests for more security. The lawmakers plan a hearing of their House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on October 10.
The Obama administration has called the attack a terrorist attack. It came amid violent protests across the Muslim world over an amateur anti-Islam video produced in the US.
The State Department has declined to answer questions about whether extra security was sought by officials in Benghazi ahead of the September 11 attack.
"Let me assure you that our security in Benghazi included a unit of host government security forces, as well as a local guard force of the kind that we rely on in many places around the world," Clinton said on September 18 when asked whether security measures were appropriate.
"In addition to the security outside the compound, we relied on a wall and a robust security presence inside the compound," Clinton added. "And with all of our missions overseas, in advance of September 11th, as is done every year, we did an evaluation on threat streams. And the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has said we had no actionable intelligence that an attack on our post in Benghazi was planned or imminent."
She said diplomats "engage in dangerous work, and it`s the nature of diplomacy in fragile societies and conflict zones to be aware of the necessity for security but to also continue the important diplomatic work that has to go on.