Top Republican lawmakers wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday saying they had information that U.S. diplomats requested increased security at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, ahead of the Sept. 11 attack, and that the requests were turned down by officials in Washington.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and Congressman Jason Chaffetz, who heads the panel's subcommittee on national security, homeland defense and foreign operations, asked Clinton to detail whether such requests were made and how they were handled. The committee plans to hold a hearing into the attack Oct. 10.
American officials have branded the attack a terrorist strike.
"Based on information provided to the Committee by individuals with direct knowledge of events in Libya, the attack that claimed [U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens'] life was the latest in a long line of attacks on Western diplomats and officials in Libya in the months leading up to September 11, 2012," they wrote. "It was clearly never, as Administration officials once insisted, the result of a popular protest.
"In addition, multiple U.S. federal government officials have confirmed to the Committee that, prior to the September 11 attack, the U.S. mission in Libya made repeated requests for increased security in Benghazi. The mission in Libya, however, was denied these resources by officials in Washington."
Issa and Chaffetz listed 13 incidents in Libya in the months leading up to the attack—which also killed three other Americans—that they argued should have triggered enhanced security.
One of them directly affected Ambassador Stevens: A Facebook page run by supporters of slain Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi highlighted that the diplomat "was in the habit of taking early morning runs around Tripoli" along with members of his security detail. The site highlighted those runs and included a picture of Stevens.
Asked about the letter, White House press secretary Jay Carney sidestepped the issue.
"I'm not going to get into a situation that's under review by the State Department or by the FBI in its investigation of what happened," he told reporters as President Barack Obama prepared for his Wednesday night debate with Mitt Romney.