Letter to Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State

Letter

By:  Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Date: Nov. 7, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary of State

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Madam Secretary:

Nearly two months have passed since the 9/11/12 attacks on several frontline posts, including the tragic attack on the diplomatic post in Benghazi. It is disappointing that we have yet to receive any response from your Department and that we are receiving more information from the press than from the Administration.

On September 12th, I requested that State Department witnesses be made available for both an open hearing on U.S.-Egypt policy in the aftermath of the attacks and a classified briefing for Members of the Foreign Affairs Committee on the attacks in Benghazi, Cairo, and Tunis. On Friday, September 14th, I reiterated these requests on behalf of our bipartisan Committee Members. These have not been addressed.

On September 25th, my fellow Chairmen of the House committees responsible for oversight of national security matters and I, requested information from the President on "the intelligence leading up to the attack, the security posture of our embassy, the role former Guantanamo Bay detainees may have played, as well as the way forward in Libya." Except for a staff level briefing limited by the time provided and the information made available, we are still awaiting full cooperation and disclosures from the Administration, particularly the State Department as the designated lead agency.

On October 15th, I wrote to you pressing for specific information on seven particular topics related to embassy security in Benghazi and other frontline posts. However, again, the Committee has yet to receive a response and we continue to gain better access to information from the news media.

For example, I read with dismay a recent news report asserting that a classified cable on August 16th discussed an emergency meeting where the Regional Security Officer outlined vulnerabilities in the security measures of the Benghazi post. I also learned from press reports about documents retrieved from the consulate grounds six weeks after the attack, that Ambassador Stevens had requested additional security from the Libyan Foreign Minister. These reports raise a number of questions, including: 1) how did the Foreign Minister respond to requests for assistance? 2) who at the State Department headquarters was involved and how? 3) why did the Department obligate funds to improve Libyan border security and counter-terrorism programs before making expenditures for local forces to provide consulate security?

While I understand that investigations by the FBI and the State Department's own Accountability Review Board are ongoing, it is imperative that this Committee, having direct oversight responsibility, be kept informed every step of the way of developments in the matter. Accordingly, I respectfully request access, in accordance with standard procedures for classification information, to all cables regarding embassy security in Benghazi before, during, and after the September 11th attack and all memoranda establishing security protocols, including agreements with other agencies. Moreover, I continue to have concerns more broadly about embassy post security in frontline countries and I request an expeditious response to the questions raised in my October 15th letter. Finally, please be prepared to present State Department officials to testify on these issues when Congress reconvenes later this month.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to your prompt reply.

Sincerely,

ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN

Chairman