Officer claims 'pressure' to reduce security at Libya mission
Lt. Col. Andrew Wood, who led a 16-member counterterrorism team in Libya, is set to testify before a congressional committee on Wednesday. He told CBS that the slain U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, had grown concerned with security at the mission, but at the same time pressure came from “higher headquarters at State Department” to draw down security.
"It began shortly after I arrived," he said. "There was pressure to reduce the number of security people there."
Wood said that the situation had deteriorated in the country in the months leading up to the attack, but that pleas via cables and emails from those at the mission to bolster security were met with denials. Eventually, the mission lost three State Department security teams, an airplane and Wood’s squad, CBS reported.
A State Department official told CBS that despite the withdrawal of a security support team, that there was "no impact whatsoever on the total number of fully trained American security personnel in Libya overall or in Benghazi specifically." The State Department also said that Wood was stationed in Tripoli, not Benghazi, the site of the attack.
American Crossroads, an independent conservative group, released an online video on Tuesday, seizing on recent reports that the Obama administration was aware of security threats facing the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and didn't act. Additionally, the video goes after the administration's refusal to call the attack an act of terrorism, a line of criticism the Romney campaign has frequently used to attack Obama.
Matt Vasilogambros contributed reporting.