Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.) appeared on CNN Wednesday morning to discuss Secretary Clinton’s upcoming testimony on Benghazi. Royce said he was interested to ascertain as to why security requests from the Benghazi mission went unheeded by the Obama Administration, despite the fact that security resources from the Department of Defense could have been provided at no cost to the State Department:
ED ROYCE: I think what we’ll find out in this hearing are more answers to the questions of how it could possibly be, when the regional security officer spells out the threats, we’ve just obtained new memos that indicate that the State Department was aware of these requests and the threats. We know that this went all the way to the seventh floor. For whatever reason, the decision was made to turn down the judgment of our personnel on the ground and to turn down the judgment of the regional security officer in Tripoli, who were requesting these assets, and communicating that Al Qaeda was in the process, you know, of threatening our personnel. So to get to the bottom of that, none of this was looked at in the arb report. we would like –
SOLEDAD O’BRIEN: Are you talking about the Accountability Review Board report. One of the things they did say, they did kind of broach it. For many years, the State Department engaged in a struggle to obtain the resources necessary to carry out its work with varying degrees of success and it has also had the affect of conditioning a few State Department managers to favor restricting the use of resources as a general orientation. I thought in part that was referring to you what were saying.
ROYCE: It’s not –
O’BRIEN: Listen, you are going to have a tight budget, people will give you a hard time about it, so the culture is don’t spend the money, don’t put the effort in.
ROYCE: Soledad, this was not about the budget. These assets were free, from the Department of Defense. This team was out there to defend. And the request by the regional security officer was, let’s extend the presence of this team beyond August, and the response from the State Department was “that would be embarrassing to have to rely upon the DOD for the defense of our personnel so we are not going to do that,” regardless of the request in hand which indicated the degree of concern that they were going to come under attack. And it’s — it’s looking at these memos that is — that is so compelling, and forcing to us ask, what is the — what’s wrong with the culture of the Department of State that they would accept free assets. Secondly, we have testimony that it was not a budget problem. They have the resources if they would provide defense on their own. The point was, they made the decision not to do it. Why I do not know. And we intend to find out. Because this is going to continue to be an ongoing question as our embassies come under attack in north Africa and around the world, Al Qaeda is targeting us.