Pentagon, State preps counterterrorism plans for 9/11 anniversary

The Defense Department is working closely with their State Department counterparts to beef up security at American diplomatic outposts, in anticipation of possible strikes on the anniversary of 9/11. 

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with President Obama and other top national security officials on Tuesday to brief the White House on the Pentagon's counterterrorism plans for the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. 

During the meeting, Hagel ran down the details of the department's "worldwide security posture," including specifics on protective measures being taken at American embassies and consulates worldwide, according to DOD Press Secretary George Little.

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"Over the past year, the Department of Defense, in close coordination with the Department of State, has undertaken a number of efforts to increase security" at State Department facilities across the globe, Little said. 

In addition to bolstering security at U.S. embassies, "has also developed, trained, and sustained, innovative force options" at strategic locations in Europe, Africa and the Mideast, he added. 

"These forces are operating at a high state of readiness and are complemented by air assets and other platforms that can help respond to a variety of contingencies," according to Little. 

The measures Hagel outlined for the president on Tuesday come in response to last year's deadly terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. 

The attack, which took place during last year's anniversary of 9/11, ended with four Americans dead including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. 

The Obama administration initially claimed the Benghazi attack was the result of an anti-American protest gone wrong. Only weeks later did the Obama administration acknowledge the strike was a planned, coordinated attack by Islamic extremist groups in the country.

Republicans continue to hammer the White House's handling of the attacks, demanding more details of the terrorist strike through a string of congressional inquiries, spearheaded by GOP lawmakers. 

Obama has come under heavy fire amid news the Pentagon ordered a U.S. special operations team in Tripoli to stand down, after the team requested to launch a rescue mission in Benghazi. 

In July, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told Congress the team was never ordered to stand down. 

"A stand down means don't do anything. They were told ... that the mission they were asked to perform was not in Benghazi, but was at Tripoli airport," the four-star general told the House Budget Committee. 

The team "would contribute more by going to the Tripoli airport to meet the casualties upon return," rather than being sent into Benghazi, Dempsey added at the time. 

News reports last year suggested the diplomatic mission of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was a cover for a large-scale CIA intelligence operation inside Libya run out of the State Department facility.

The spartan outpost in Benghazi was reportedly one of several intelligence hubs set up by Langley in the aftermath of the Libyan revolution that ended with former dictator Moammar Gadhafi's death in March 2011.