The U.S. mission in Benghazi convened an emergency meeting just a month before it was attacked by terrorists because of concerns it could not withstand a “coordinated attack,” according to a classified cable obtained by Fox News.
The cable, which summarizes the Aug. 15 meeting, adds to the steady stream of revelations that have raised questions about the deteriorating security situation in Libya prior to the Sept. 11 attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
The Obama administration's decision to turn down the embassy's requests for additional security prior to the attack and the shifting explanation of what transpired on Sept. 11 have become political fodder in the lead-up to next week's presidential election.
“RSO [Regional Security Officer] expressed concerns with the ability to defend Post in the event of a coordinated attack due to limited manpower, security measures, weapons capabilities, host nation support, and the overall size of the compound,” the cable says, according to Fox News.
The cable, which was addressed to the Office of Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump faults DNC in Russian election hacks Week ahead: US raises pressure on WikiLeaks Poll: 85 percent of Clinton supporters would vote for her again MORE, played down the risk of an imminent attack against U.S. interests but cautioned that the Islamist groups' intentions were unknown.
Embassy staff “did not have information suggesting that these entities were targeting Americans but did caveat that [there was not] a complete picture of their intentions yet,” according to the cable. “RSO noted that the Benghazi militias have become more brazen in their actions and have little fear of reprisal from the [government of Libya].”
Six weeks after the attack, it remains unclear which groups were involved and what prompted their actions. Witnesses and participants have told reporters on the ground in Benghazi that Islamist militants took up arms out of anger over an anti-Islam Internet video but that there was never a peaceful protest prior to their attack, as the administration first claimed.
Libyan officials have pointed the finger at Ansar al-Sharia, an al Qaeda-inspired outfit, for the attack. The group denies responsibility.