House investigators emerged from a classified briefing on last year’s Benghazi attacks with a grim assessment of the nation’s security posture the day of the attacks.
"We weren’t prepared, and that wasn’t acceptable," said Rep. Martha Roby (R., Ala.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s investigative panel of the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities that claimed four American lives.
Rep. Buck McKeon (R., Calif.), chairman of the full committee, said Pentagon officials communicated that the State Department had not asked for "backup" prior to the attack.
"Even though it was 9/11 and we were in a little higher state of readiness, we weren’t in a position to be supportive of those who lost their lives in Benghazi," McKeon said.
He added that sequestration cuts to the Pentagon’s budget would make it more difficult to respond to similar attacks in the future.
Neither McKeon nor Roby would share details from the hearing, citing the secret and top-secret classifications of the information shared.
"This is an ongoing investigation," Roby told reporters after the briefing. "A lot of our questions were answered. We have a lot more questions that need further clarification."
McKeon also addressed reports that the FBI has identified five suspects in the attack who remain at large due to the administration’s insistence on trying them in civilian courts.
"The war on terror, I think, is a war, and at times I get the feeling that the administration wants to treat it as a crime," McKeon said. "I think we’re at war. We ought to face up to that fact and act accordingly."