Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff 'bothered' by lack of security in Benghazi

The nation's top military leader testified Thursday that while he was “bothered” by the lack of security at the U.S. facility attacked by terrorists in Libya, he never got a request for help from the State Department.

Asked by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) if he was aware of the U.S. Embassy's repeated requests for additional security and the deteriorating situation prior to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said he was “tracking” that information. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified last month that the requests for more help were handled by officials under her and she did not see the cables detailing the embassy's concerns.

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“I was tracking that intelligence,” Dempsey said. “It bothered me a great deal ... but we never received a request for support from the State Department, which would have allowed us to put forces on the ground.”

He did not point fingers.

“I'm not blaming the State Department,” he said. “I'm sure they had their own assessment.”

Four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, died in the attack. Thursday's hearing by the Senate Armed Services Committee aimed to determine why the Pentagon failed to respond to the attack, which lasted seven hours.