From tonight’s debate:
RADDATZ: And they wanted more security there [Libya].
BIDEN: Well, we weren’t told they wanted more security there. We did not know they wanted more security again.
Now I’m not sure who exactly Biden meant by “we” — a colleague pointed out he could have meant him and President Obama personally, not the State Department — but in yesterday’s testimony, it emerged that both Eric Nordstrom, a regional security officer at the State Department who had been stationed in Libya for several months recently, and Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Wood, a Utah National Guard member who had led a security team in Libya, wanted more security than the State Department was willing to give them.
From my post yesterday:
“Mr. Nordstrom, do you think they were ever going to give you what you wanted?” asked Representative Jim Jordan (R., Ohio). “What do you think would warrant them saying “You know what, these guys know what they’re talking about and we’re going to meet their request?”
“Thank you for asking that question,” responded Nordstrom. “I actually had that conversation when I came back on leave and for training in February. I was told by the Regional Director for Near Eastern Affairs that there had ‘only been one incident involving an American’ where he was struck by celebratory fire, it was one of Colonel Wood’s employees. The takeaway from that, for me and my staff, it was abundantly clear, we were not going to get resources until the aftermath of an incident. And the question that we would ask is, again, ‘How thin does the ice have to get before someone falls through?’”
And then there was this exchange:
Jordan: “Lt. Col Wood and Mr. Nordstrom- were you pulling your hair out? Were you just flabbergasted- ‘What can we do? What can we say? What can we put in writing? What can we say on the phone? What else can we do? Was that your sense and attitude when you got the answers from Washington that you did?”
Wood: “We were fighting a losing battle, we couldn’t even keep what we had. We were not even allowed to even keep what we had.”
Nordstrom: “If I could add to that, I told the same Regional Director in a telephone call in Benghazi after he contacted me when I asked for 12 agents, his response to that was ‘You’re asking for the sun, moon, and the stars.’ And my response to him- his name’s Jim- ‘Jim, you know what is the most frustrating about this assignment, it’s not the hardships, it’s not the gunfire, it’s not the threats. It’s dealing, and fighting, against the people, programs, and personnel who are supposed to be supporting me.’ And I added it by saying ‘For me, the Taliban is on the inside of the building.’”