No advance warning on Libya attack: US

2012-09-19 12:12

Washington - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denied on Tuesday that Washington was warned of an imminent attack in Libya, stressing the United States would not rest until those behind the killings of four Americans are brought to justice.

"We had no actionable intelligence that an attack on our post in Benghazi was planned or imminent," Clinton told a press conference after State Department talks with Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa.

"We are taking aggressive steps to protect our staffs in embassies and consulates worldwide," Clinton said, amid a wave of anti-US protests around the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.

The United States is also "reviewing our security posture at every post and augmenting it where necessary", she added, stressing that Washington was also working with host governments "to make sure they know what our security needs are".

A suicide bombing in Kabul on Tuesday added to a growing toll of people killed in the week-long violent backlash triggered by a YouTube trailer for a film mocking Islam.

Among the dead are four diplomatic staff in Libya, including ambassador Chris Stevens, killed when militants besieged the US mission in Benghazi a week ago on 11 September in a four-hour sustained attack with heavy arms.

Adequate security arrangements

"We will not rest until the people who orchestrated this attack are found and punished," Clinton said.

But she insisted there had been adequate security arrangements in Benghazi, and said that ahead of last week's anniversary of the 11 September 2001 attacks a full evaluation of "threat streams" had been carried out.

"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," she told reporters.

It emerged on Tuesday that the State Department had hired a private security firm called the Blue Mountain Group - believed to be a British company which says on its website it has a heritage "gained from many years' service in UK Special Forces" - to hire local Libyan staff in Benghazi.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland admitted she had made a mistake when she said last week the US had not signed any private security contracts with firms to guard the Benghazi mission.

"The external security, external armed security, as we have been saying, outside of the perimeter, was fully handled by the Libyan side," Nuland told reporters on Tuesday.

Strategic look at events

"There was a group called Blue Mountain Group, which is a private security company with permits to operate in Libya. They were hired to provide local Libyan guards who operated inside the gate doing things like operating the security access equipment, screening the cars, that kind of thing."

It was unclear whether any of the local staff had been killed in Tuesday's attack, she said, nor whether the State Department had worked with the company in other countries.

The FBI has launched an investigation inside Libya, and Clinton said the US was working with the Libyan government, which is leading its own inquiry, "so we can be assured that we have found who murdered our four colleagues and under what circumstances".

People also had to look at the events strategically. "In a lot of places where protests have turned violent, we are seeing the hand of extremists who trying to exploit people's inflamed passions for their own agendas."

But she said most people in the Arab Spring nations were seeking to build a better future.

"This is part of a larger debate that is going on inside of these societies," she said, highlighting how moderates had won the elections in Libya after the fall of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

  • Fidel - 2012-09-19 12:47

    You slaughter Muslims and decimate their countries, and then act suprised when they retaliate. That sort of disconnection from reality is, reminiscent of some sort of psychosis. Or are they supposed to just wait to be killed, content in the knowledge that their and their families' deaths will be for the greater good?

      kyle.berry.90857 - 2012-09-19 13:28

      and... they will not rest till the people responsible are found, what hope do those people have of finding the ones responsible for millions of deaths...aka the white house.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-09-19 14:56

      assad slaughters the Syrian opposition, and bombs ,'their' country into rubble, ""and then act suprised when they retaliate. That sort of disconnection from reality is, reminiscent of some sort of psychosis. Or are they supposed to just wait to be killed, content in the knowledge that their and their families' deaths will be for the greater good? ""

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-19 15:13

      Fidel believes Nelson Mandela is a phony, a lackey of the West, a modern-day Uncle Tom. His exact words on the US/Mandela thread a few weeks ago. It's no surprise then that he writes this post that is so prejudiced and obviously wrong. Everyone with a clear mind knows Nelson Mandela is not a phony, a lackey of the West, a modern-day Uncle Tom. Everyone with a clear mind also knows that the US doesn't "slaughter Muslims" and "decimate their countries" whatever "their countries" means. It is Al-Quaida who declared and waged war on the US in 1992, which led to the attacks on 9/11 that killed citizens from 90 countries. The US was finally spurred into action, notwithstanding multiple prior attacks. Fidel, with his highly immature and faulty anti-West prejudice, sees a different obviously faulty realty. Nelson Mandela a phony, a lackey of the West. Imagine that!

      BigChiefPlumbPudding - 2012-09-19 15:22

      @Fred - Yes most people know all this, and after all, the recorded facts and sequence of events are all there for anyone to go and and research. But still, I find it mildly amusing to read posts by 'Fidel the Radical'.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-19 15:31

      Kyle, what are you talking about? Millions of deaths aka the White House?

  • ziyaad.cajee.7 - 2012-09-19 15:56

    When you attack black people, They call it "Racism", When you attack Jewish people, They call it "Anti-semetism", When you attack Women, They call it "Gender discrimination", When you attack Homosexuality, They call it "Intolerance", When you attack your Country, They call it "Terrorism", When you attack a Religious sect, they call it "Hate speech", But when They attack at the dignity of our Beloved Prophet MUHAMMAD (Sallal laho Alaihi Wasallam) They call it " Freedom of Expression" NB : no need to say more...

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-19 16:49

      Another senseless rant Ziyaad. When are you going to grow up, become a mature, thinking and feeling adult?

  • ziyaad.cajee.7 - 2012-09-19 19:25

    @ Fraser When are u and rest of the western are going to grow up and stop interfering,killing,decimating,torturing provoking (and the list goes on) innocent Muslims ......

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