U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, who was killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, during an event in Tripoli, Libya, Sept. 12.
Documents including the full itinerary of Ambassador Christopher Stevens’s trip to Benghazi, Libya and the personnel records of Libyans employed to secure the U.S. official's mission were left behind at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, The Washington Post reported exclusively.
A reporter who visited the looted compound Wednesday found the sensitive documents strewn across the floor, The Post said. The State Department did not ask The Post to withhold the documents from publication.
The discovery comes almost four weeks after an attack on the U.S. consulate took the lives of Stevens, as well as information management officer Sean Smith and security personnel Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.
According to The Post, many other documents have likely disappeared from the compound, which is now guarded by two private security guards paid for by the compound’s Libyan owner.
“Securing the site has obviously been a challenge,” Mark Toner, deputy spokesman at the State Department, told The Post when asked about conditions at the Benghazi consulate. “We had to evacuate all U.S. government personnel the night of the attack. After the attack, we requested help securing the site, and we continue to work with the Libyan government on this front.”
Thousands of Libyans stormed the headquarters of an Islamist militia group in Benghazi Friday night in a deadly exchange. NBC's Ayman Mohyeldin reports.
One of the documents found by The Post shows Stevens and his staff were discussing the possibility of an attack in early September, two days before the assault took place. According to The Post, the memo was detailing plans for a “quick reaction force,” or QRF, to ensure the security of the mission.
“In the event of an attack on the U.S. Mission,” the document states, “QRF will request additional support from the 17th February Martyrs Brigade.”
Security on the compound appears to have been bare-bones, The Post suggests, pointing to a statement in the memo requiring guards “to acquire and maintain their own weapons and ammunition." The memo also suggests the Americans were not confident the protection from the guards would be sufficient in case of an emergency, The Post said.
Several copies of Stevens' Benghazi trip itinerary were scattered across the floor, the newspaper reported. The document included all of the envoy's planned movements during a visit that was supposed to last from Sept. 10 until Sept. 15.
At the consulate where four Americans died security consisted of one U.S. regional security officer and a local militia. Ambassador Chris Stevens often had little personal security detail. NBC's Lisa Myers reports.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday vowed to pursue a full accounting of the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi "wherever that leads," but cautioned that it could take time for a complete picture to emerge.
"There are continuing questions about what exactly happened in Benghazi on that night three weeks ago. And we will not rest until we answer those questions and until we track down the terrorists who killed our people," Clinton said in an appearance with Kazakhstan's visiting foreign minister.
"The men and women who serve this country as diplomats deserve no less than a full and accurate accounting, wherever that leads, and I am committed to seeking that for them and for those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation."
Clinton's comments followed a demand by two Republican lawmakers this week for more information about the September 11 attack, which they said occurred after Washington repeatedly turned down requests from Americans in Libya for more security at the Benghazi consulate.
U.S. Representatives Darrell Issa and Jason Chaffetz also said that the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold an Oct. 10 hearing on the security situation leading up to the Benghazi attack.
Reuters reported on Tuesday that the U.S. government received about a dozen intelligence reports within hours of the attack suggesting involvement by organized militant groups. Despite that, the Obama administration for nearly two weeks emphasized the role of the anti-Muslim video.
Clinton noted that the State Department had named an "accountability review board" to investigate attack, and that she had urged the group "to move as quickly as possible without sacrificing accuracy."
"I am aware too that many people are eager for answers. So am I ... and no one wants the answers more than we do here at the department," Clinton said.
"Over the course of this review, there will naturally be a number of statements made, some of which will be borne out and some of which will not. So let's establish all the facts before we jump to any conclusions and let's do so that we can get to the bottom of what did happen," she said.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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