It was shocking enough when CNN found sensitive documents at the Benghazi consulate in the immediate aftermath of the attack. Now, Foreign Policy visited it last week — and found additional information lying about:
When we visited on Oct. 26 to prepare a story for Dubai based Al Aan TV, we found not only Stevens’s personal copy of the Aug. 6 New Yorker, lying on remnants of the bed in the safe room where Stevens spent his final hours, but several ash-strewn documents beneath rubble in the looted Tactical Operations Center, one of the four main buildings of the partially destroyed compound. Some of the documents — such as an email from Stevens to his political officer in Benghazi and a flight itinerary sent to Sean Smith, a U.S. diplomat slain in the attack — are clearly marked as State Department correspondence. Others are unsigned printouts of messages to local and national Libyan authorities. The two unsigned draft letters are both dated Sept. 11 and express strong fears about the security situation at the compound on what would turn out to be a tragic day. They also indicate that Stevens and his team had officially requested additional security at the Benghazi compound for his visit — and that they apparently did not feel it was being provided. . . .
The document also suggests that the U.S. consulate had asked Libyan authorities on Sept. 9 for extra security measures in preparation for Stevens’ visit, but that the Libyans had failed to provide promised support. . . .
The concerns about police surveillance exhibited in the letters to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Benghazi police chief cast further doubt on early reports that a spontaneous protest was to blame for the attack on the U.S. consulate — reports that the State Department has disavowed. They also appear to contradict an Oct. 9 State Department briefing on the consulate attack, during which a senior State Department official claimed that there had been no security incidents at the consulate that day. “Everything is calm at 8:30 p.m,” the official said. “There’s nothing unusual. There has been nothing unusual during the day at all outside.”
It certainly raises questions about whether other pertinent information that would help uncover what exactly occurred at the consulate prior to the attacks has already been taken. And it reinforces the impression that the situation in Libya, particularly at the consulate in Benghazi, was far from stable long before the September 11 attack.