Senate Panel: Benghazi Consulate 'Attack Could Have Been Prevented'

Intelligence committee releases report investigating attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya.
3:00 | 01/15/14

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Transcript for Senate Panel: Benghazi Consulate 'Attack Could Have Been Prevented'
This is a special group. -- from ABC. Hello I'm tired and is in New York with his ABC news digital special -- new senate intelligence report says the attack on the US consulate in -- -- It killed four Americans including US ambassador Christopher Stevens could and should have been prevented. Bipartisan report blaming. Both the State Department and and the intelligence agencies for failing to increase security at the compound despite multiple warnings. To help -- breakdown in this report let's bring in ABC's Louis Martinez at the Pentagon. Good morning -- -- good afternoon I should say let's go through this step by step what were the warnings the State Department. Apparently should've heeded. While the warning signs -- worry that there was that there were incidents of violence in being Ghazi -- and targeting western interest. Some Indian diplomatic missions like consulate itself that's -- -- it went through to attacks. When in April and one in June of that year the attack. There were talking and bout took place about September 11 to 2012. But there was reports of violence should have been trip wires like you said they should have raised awareness within the State Department. That the security needed to be raised. -- also there were warnings. By the intelligence community that the State Department received. -- has also shared by the joint staff here depending on. That they were as the targeting of western interests in Ben Ghazi. And yet despite that the State Department didn't ramp up the security. Though interestingly enough we've heard about the CIA and -- that was there -- being Ghazi the CIA ramp up their security as a result of those attacks. Another thing that's come under questioning here is that what happened in the follow up of course a lot of blame that in the in the aftermath of the attack. That this -- had been prompted by a protest against an anti Islamic video. That had raised -- protests in Egypt has spread over to Libya. The intelligence committee here -- calling to task. -- intelligence community itself for not having checked out the veracity of the open source. Information that prompted it to kind of -- it the narrative that way. OK that you mention this day compound on that site -- well. And that that's the -- any folks did heed some of the warnings and ramp up security. There's apparent lack of communication between the State Department and the CIA that was mentioned in this report is that what it was about. While there is also -- lack of communication between the CIA and the military. The military move was here's Africa command I was prompted to respond in the EU wake the action the attack of September 11. And they sent of these forces that took hours to get to their speaking points but they were unaware that there was this CIA -- where there are about twenty. Paramilitary -- contractors. Some CIA staffers. Who could who were responding to on to what was happening on the ground. Though the US military is -- point by point bulletins about what was happening they were unaware that there was this large force on the ground and -- Ghazi. Also -- so we have another instance here of the stove piping of information remember back in that 9/11. The FBI -- CAA were accused of. Having information it could have tipped them off one of the other agencies. -- the activities of the 9/11 hijackers and yet he didn't share that information. Here apparently the information was there it was being shared but not enough was being -- with that information. Q trigger further. Action. The report includes a timeline the night of the incident actually states that there -- three separate attacks at least. In fewer than eight hours but could hat in the US have responded in time to prevent those deaths and given that it was spread out over eight hours. You know -- we've been hearing from military officials over the last year that there was no way they could've responded in time for several reasons and just this week. The house -- armed services committee released it. 450 pages of transcripts of interviews and testimony that they got from senior military officials here depending on an -- Africa command. Where they asked those same questions could the US military have responded in kind. And the answer was no number one plane for too far away. It would have taken them too long to get -- up to get on the on the flight line -- had already been -- and even if they're -- -- Ghazi what could they have done use some congressman -- you could've done a show of force. And you had a senior commander African command at the time general Carter -- saying. He did not agree with that notion because -- -- as far as he was could tell that would not have done much of anything. So what this report highlights here is again that we had this long episode but at the time of it -- Islamic factories are protected he said. But at the same time the an initial military response weighs about the attack on the consulate. Five hours later -- when we have the attack. Of the CIA annex. And is so it would remain in you have separate events taking place here and not enough time the military to respond in either one of. All right Louis ABC's Willie Martinez we're actually gonna head now to the State Department. Get a briefing on this very issue thank you -- In the future. And number at this -- recommendations are consistent with work the department has -- undertaken to improve diplomatic security. Including upgrading security cameras improving fire protective equipment and increasing marine security guard presence. At twelve unclassified recommendations directed to the State Department ten were previously issued by either that -- -- -- -- the air be. Or the -- best practices you know. And and we can talk about some of the specifics in terms of the report but in terms of a statement the top that. I'll turn it over to you okay -- and small crowd today had I. We note that here. Tax cheat -- don't know the things we're doing -- in response to the review board yes. When -- think it's not very similar to the review board's report is that it. It it seems to call out. Investors Stevens. Personally. And and a couple of his decisions. Apparently the DOD confirmed -- the senate committee that. Twice they offered to. Help bolster his security force which. You know troops from Africa and the -- he declined both times it's on the east wing of the report. -- -- check and that I haven't seen out and that's. Okay and on that -- I mean it's again a report just came out out we've looked -- I haven't read the whole thing yet. I think in terms of security whether it's for him specifically or for the different facilities has been. Discussed exhaustively in the air be in on Capitol Hill but I'm happy to check and that's that's. And -- And haven't you looked at what he's done what he did with security over that time at her and certainly part of what folks have looked that you know I don't have anything you want that again I'm happy to check -- -- the report specifically that. Again it just came out we're taking a look at it but I that -- issue has been -- discussed extensively and happy -- there's anything new. On that up until now you really haven't seen anything that that would indicate that he actually declined additional. I think I mean I can check another. -- -- the ripple two sets the on attacks were preventable is that something cheap and within its content well. -- -- it as we have repeatedly said. There was no specific threat indicating an attack with coming. Obviously. We talked at length about the fact that we knew there were extremists and terrorists operating in Libya and -- got -- But again we had no specific information indicating a threat. An -- -- coming. You know. We can't go back and look at hypotheticals about what could have been prevented him -- couldn't -- We it's sad. That security. Need to be approved. -- -- crystal clear about that that's why we're implementing the our recommendations. And a party made a lot of progress that you can see from the fact she. We put out but but on this point we where we happening crystal clear that there is no specific information. That a -- was coming and also that we don't believe we have nothing to indicate there were significant pre planning. So you know -- say it is 20/20 I guess but again -- it -- that. I think serves a lot of purposes to go back and look your hypotheticals quite frankly we can never answer that's why were committed to doing everything we can to prevent a situation like. But it it commended the -- context that it already been an attack on the British and -- the mission. But it several attacks. Embassies and to diplomatic personnel from different countries and we -- Do you have specific information. Or specific threat and in fact is coming you can only know you can at signed on -- -- information you get. We knew the security situation. -- always with not good and bad guys in and Libya and that's why we had taken steps but the air be made clear that we could have done more with security nobody say we did. Everything you write clearly. That's certainly not the case but in termed -- that in terms of that specific question. I think that's where we aren't. -- the issue that. There hasn't been -- again from the senate report that that hasn't been enough kind of help and cooperation -- the Libyan authorities. In trying -- kinds. People who were behind the attack. Well we work closely with the Libyan government certainly counterterrorism at large -- talked about that a lot recently. And an -- pressing -- to help us is as much as possible let me check with their team to see. In terms of cooperation and what that currently looks like but the FBI's -- the investigation into what happened -- still ongoing. And we said we're very committed to bringing to justice the perpetrators this is hard. -- due to find the folks responsible and bring him to justice but we -- actually committing to -- committed to doing so and will work with the Libyan government and happy to check in with -- -- -- -- Where people -- note that were on disciplined -- five people that were disciplined as a result I understand that a couple of them have been reassigned -- they've all been reassigned because if I remember Eric Boswell. Had resigned to than there were some reports -- -- back with the State Department another. Nothing's changed and that I think that we announce the outcome of the review let me check to see if -- I feel happening here I think thank -- its commitment. Anything's changed that. You're talking about -- for her act. Of -- if it weren't for more than four -- that now who is slated to. -- an administrative leave following the independent accountability review board's report. We that. Yet going to -- on the -- recommendations the war were being reassigned to different positions within the permit without the same responsibility they had on the day the attack. So I'll be announced months ago the secretary to finish the review. The status of the four and again the United Nations the same responsibility they -- and that includes air balls won't. Does he resigned from his position more I think I don't know we talked about the -- people said -- I -- I understand that was that was part of it but. Again the -- just reassign. Different positions they don't have the same responsibility they had it. And and just one more thing from their -- -- And it's -- it's sizzling one of the key findings is that street today. I understand that there was no specific and imminent threat to the consulate. But there was a warning provided by the intelligence community that the security situation in eastern Libya was deteriorating. And that US facilities and personnel were at. -- that -- they apparently. Not atypical warning that we say about a number of places we operate overseas that's not specifics. Anything clearly what -- been clear. That we could've done more with security that we need to improve our security I don't want to make it sound like that there wasn't funny man because there wasn't specific threat. That we -- not taking security seriously or we or we think we should have been more clearly that's the case but added that kind of security -- quite frankly -- -- about a number of. Well I understand that and I'm talking about connecting the dots between. But -- happy that the -- connecting the dots between here is a warning. And not saying. Not saying you're saying that night. The people that are making the decisions. I'm saying all -- that's -- we hear that about a lot of places and not taking the necessary. Rest of the measures to beef up security in relation to that's does. They -- what I think it we have for sat in the air being the State Department said that we should it be that security and that they as a result of those morning. It's as a result of the air leak investigation into what happened. A variety of these rates -- as a result of the situation we say we need to get better doing security. We -- -- we shouldn't be better than and we need to get better report. What I insane it -- about the question about is being able to be prevented right yes we should it be that security. But yes connecting that they're happy -- dot net and -- there was no specific threat that an attack. With coming -- we don't believe we have nothing to indicate that this involve significant briefly. That any nation of being better security of course we should but this notion that there -- one -- that information that he and his parents let me get some people half. So this notion that there is just one piece of information if we listened to it we could've prevented this. I think it an appealing theory that some people think it's than what happened. -- -- -- -- -- Cool all right we've been listening to this State Department briefing responding to the newly released senate intelligence report. About the attack in Ben Ghazi let's bring back Willie Martinez at the Pentagon for his reaction. What we've been hearing from the State Department -- nothing new here in the State Department. I received a lot of criticism and that report but obviously they are firing back saying there is no significant pre planning in terms of this attack. And that there is no specific warning that the attack was coming does this bear borne out in that intelligence report. That's actually one thing -- the senate intelligence report does say is that there was no specific threat on the September 112012. For -- threatening the US mission in them -- Ghazi. But the report does say it like we talked about earlier -- talked about those trip wires that that there had been a trend of violence growing in have been -- That should have heightened the awareness of State Department officials. Back here in Washington as well as the ambassador ambassador Chris Stephens who has The Who died in that attack. And what we're hearing from -- -- the spokesperson there at the State Department is that. The State Department -- implemented it has implemented. The recommendations from another blue panel -- -- blue ribbon panel. The ARD as it's called. That -- me put forth 29 recommendations about how to boost security. You -- here talking about how if we had a threat we would have boosted security that's in hindsight one of the things. That we could've done. That she's acknowledging there was -- threat but the intelligence committee saying there was a pattern there that should have heightened awareness that they needed to bring security just in case. Okay now -- it is the report. Specify in -- the backing behind this attracted to get into that aspect of it. They talk about -- within the local militias being involved -- course we were hearing that from several. Investigation is the one on the house side. And and of course even from the State Department itself just last week. Talking about one of those -- Ansar Al Sharia. Which it was one of the militias there inciting -- which the State Department is targeted as a terrorist organizations saying that. You know we don't have a new indications that they were specifically involved are the only -- involved. -- 9/11 attacks and killing twelve. But that -- we know that they had a role. And dad so that -- are looking out Q to broaden that investigation her Marie talking about. How. The FBI is still the lead on this and they're trying to figure out who was behind it. Behind the attack pedestrian be very difficult because. The FBI course that -- have a presence on the ground -- -- And years it's actually it's easier for some reporters to get in touch with militia leaders repeated. You've been involved in the attack. And it is four American law enforcement or even for that matter Libyan security -- Officials and -- and let's talk about one of the other two key components to come out of this report which has the location of the CIA compound right at that site. Apparently. Not everyone had -- that the CIA compound was there yet at the same time. The CIA seem to be aware that. Not that an attack was imminent but that things are growing were dangerous and had taken. More security precautions -- can you go over those two points made in the report. Share what what can clarify that he the CIA enix is actually about a mile south east. Where the big guys -- consulate compound was. That was age eighty. Facility housing about twenty CIA contractors. CIA officers mainly tasked with gathering intelligence and -- -- and also gathering information about. Where those portable. Missiles portable shoulder fired. Missiles remain in this Libya -- thousands upon thousands of these missiles and that was a key CA mission. But they were also there to establish contacts with the militias. Well the the report talks about how the military wasn't aware that that CA facility was there. Didn't realize how large it was in realize that they were sending a force over to try to reinforce. Diplomatic securities -- that have been overrun at the consulate. That's one thing it's raised and the report and the other thing was that you have this pattern of violence that we talked about. -- that two attacks on the consulate itself when in April another one in June. That -- -- heighten awareness within the State Department. But it did for the CIA because they ramp up security as a result of those two attacks. Yasser have a trend in violence at other diplomatic facilities -- the other western targets womanizing the CA responded to that. The report notes that. Ambassador Chris Stevens supported. The state department's notion of switching away from a military -- have been providing temporary security. In Tripoli not in -- In Tripoli. And that day they want it to rely on local security forces which is what the -- doing and Benghazi. Now the report notes that Carter Ham who was the general of Africa command had offered on two occasions to Stevens. You know what I can offer you additional military forces. If you want them and Stephens said now so there's a lot of blame beyond being spread around here in the senate Intel report. And -- finally anymore fallout -- changes we can expect now that the port has been released. -- -- we we're hearing out the initial response from -- -- for the State Department she's talking about other ports just come out. And and so their -- and so they don't really have much to comment on the specifics but what they did talk about our how the recommendations of that blue ribbon panel have been implemented. And we're getting the same language from Jay Carney. Which the president saying that is not he it's his sense. That we're hearing more of the same about we've heard of last year that there were some security. Gaps in Benghazi. Baghdad that changes had been implemented to try to prevent this from happening. Again -- -- -- in my tennis thank you again at the Pentagon for joining us. -- can of course get a complete recap right here at And continue to watch. That State Department briefing stream live for now anti Hernandez in new York and this has been an ABC news digital special report.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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