These warnings were accompanied by repeated requests for increased security. Multiple witnesses informed the Oversight Committee that these requests were rejected, and existing security was actually systematically decreased in the interests of “normalization.” State Department Regional Security Officer Eric Nordstrom testified that officials in Washington routinely made decisions to decrease security without consulting him. Another State Department official, Charlene Lamb, makes it clear that the cutbacks had nothing to do with budgetary concerns. In fact, the State Department actually increased “danger pay” for its personnel as it removed security resources.
Based on documents and extensive testimony from Nordstrom, Lamb and other officials, the Oversight Committee concluded that the inadequate security was the result of a “normalization” process initiated by the Obama administration in November 2011 “aimed at conveying the situation in Libya was getting better, not worse” and designed to avoid “the appearance of boots on the ground.”
When President Obama chose to ignore the Constitution and launch military operations in Libya without congressional approval, it was with the assurance that American presence on the ground would be minimal. Were security decisions in Libya affected by the desire to justify this promise and create the impression that the Libyan intervention was more successful and less dangerous to Americans than it actually was? The House Oversight Committee, as well as Speaker of the House John Boehner, have sent letters to President Obama seeking explanations for these troubling questions. It is imperative that the president and his administration be forthcoming and cooperative to ensure we learn the truth about the terrorist attack in Libya and take appropriate actions to safeguard American personnel and strategic interests.
Tom Cole is the 4th District U.S. congressman