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Fact check: Obama fails to mention key Libya detail

October 16, 2012|By Ken Dilanian
  • Mitt Romney speaks as President Obama listens during the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.
Mitt Romney speaks as President Obama listens during the presidential… (John Moore / Getty Images )

President Obama was asked who was responsible for rejecting requests for added security for U.S. diplomatic facilities in Libya before the Sept. 11 attack that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans. 

Obama didn't offer a name, but the answer emerged at a House Oversight Committee hearing last week: Charlene Lamb, deputy assistant secretary for international programs at the State Department's bureau of diplomatic security.

Lamb acknowledged at the hearing that she had declined a request to extend the term of a 16-member military team that had been based at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, which is 400 miles from Benghazi, where the attack occurred.

Eric Nordstrom, who reported to Lamb as the top regional security officer in Libya until June, testified that Lamb also turned down other requests to beef up security in Libya.

Nordstrom did not indicate that any requests were made for added security in Benghazi, however. He also acknowledged that the attack, which involved dozens of heavily armed men, probably would have overwhelmed even a stiffer defense.

Lamb explained that the State Department sought to use local Libyan security forces to scale back the role and visibility of the U.S. military in the country in the aftermath of the U.S.-backed uprising that toppled dictator Moammar Kadafi last year.

She also argued that the U.S. was unaware of a possible attack on the mission in Benghazi, and absent better intelligence, the State Department had "the correct number of assets in Benghazi" on the night of the violence.

"That doesn't ring true to the American people," responded Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), who chaired the hearing.

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ken.dilanian@latimes.com

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