Dear Ms. Knick:
Thank you for contacting me about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. I was one of the first to call for hearings to get to the bottom of what happened. I questioned members of the Administration as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and, more recently, as a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The military’s initial response began within minutes of the first incident in Benghazi. An unmanned, unarmed surveillance aircraft was moved over the Benghazi compound. Secretary Panetta and Gen. Dempsey conferred first with the President, and then with senior officials including Gen. Carter Ham, U.S. Africa Command. During those meetings, Secretary Panetta ordered two fleet antiterrorism security team (FAST) platoons to prepare to deploy. The Secretary also issued verbal prepare-to-deploy orders for two special operations teams. In the 12 hours between the start of the attacks and the evacuation from Benghazi, DoD postured forces to meet any contingencies that might develop. The independent Accountability Review Board found that the interagency response was timely, and that
no alternative or additional armed U.S. military assets were available within a timeline to be effective in Benghazi.
Congress must do its part to ensure that Americans working abroad are safe from attack. Earlier this year the Senate passed legislation that I cosponsored allowing the transfer of $1.1 billion to enhance security at U.S. Embassies. I remain concerned about the spread of extremism in North Africa, and I assure you that I will keep your views in mind as Congress works to address these issues.
Please don't hesitate to contact me again.
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