Report: Officials say Stevens turned down extra Benghazi security

U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who died with three other Americans in last year’s attack in Benghazi, Libya, turned down offers of additional security from military personnel on two occasions, according to a report released late Tuesday from McClatchy newspapers.

The report cites two anonymous government officials who said “the senior U.S. military official in the region” twice approached Stevens with the offer, and Stevens twice declined. The report does not say why Stevens would have declined the offer.

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According to the report, U.S. officials at in Libya met in mid-August, about three weeks before the attack, to discuss the “uncertain security environment.” The meeting provoked Army Gen. Carter Ham to approach Stevens on two occasions with the offer of a special security team from the U.S. military.

“He didn’t say why. He just turned it down,” a Defense official told McClatchy.

The report comes as GOP lawmakers have renewed their probe into the administration’s handling of the attack, questioning whether more resources could have been deployed before and during the assault to protect American lives. 

The McClatchy report says some lawmakers may have been aware of Stevens’s decision.

GOP lawmakers, though, expressed skepticism over the report.

A spokesman for House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said Stevens was likely just communicating directives from State Department leadership.

“Decisions conveyed by Ambassador Stevens were made on behalf of the U.S. State Department,” the spokesman, Frederick Hill, told McClatchy in an email. 

“There were certainly robust debates between State and Defense officials over the mission and controlling authority of such forces. The lack of discussion by the public ARB report about the role inter-agency tension played in a lack of security resources remains a significant concern of the Oversight Committee,” he added.

Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) called the revelation “odd.”

“That is odd to me because Stevens requested from the State Department additional security four times, and there was an 18-person special forces security team headed by Lt. Col. Wood that Gen. Ham signed off on that the State Department said no to,” he told McClatchy.

“The records are very clear that people on the ground in Libya made numerous requests for additional security that were either denied or only partially granted,” Graham said.