Eric Nordstrom, the State Department official responsible for the security of American diplomats in Libya until July 2012, spoke before a House panel this afternoon to address last month’s attacks that killed four members of the U.S. mission in Benghazi, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Despite comments made to congressional investigators in which Nordstrom said that calls for better security went unheeded, his testimony at the panel had a different timber.
He told the panel that the “ferocity and intensity of the attack was nothing that we had seen in Libya, or that I had seen in my time in the Diplomatic Security Service. Having an extra foot of wall, or an extra-half dozen guards or agents would not have enabled us to respond to that kind of assault.”
His testimony pushed back against comments made earlier in the day by Lt. Col. Andrew Wood of the Utah National Guard who, while stationed in Tripoli, characterized his two visits to Benghazi as a “struggle.”
The panel has its work cut out for itself. Beyond determining the security shortcomings and investigating the State Department’s assessments of the security (among many highly charged matters), some members of the panel have already retreated to partisan postures.
On Tuesday, committee members engaged in a series of partisan attacks. Democrats and Republicans said that the other party had shown scant interest in dealing with the broader issues of intelligence warnings and security matters, and had focused instead on trying to show that their party was better equipped to address volatile and shifting national security challenges.
We’ll have more as this develops.