Watchdog: Accountability

Benghazi security contractor had history of failure in Libya, emails show

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Watchdog,Michal Conger,Judicial Watch,National Security,Benghazi,State Department,Accountability,Libya,FOIA

Blue Mountain Group, the British company providing security at the U.S. compound in Benghazi during the Sept. 11, 2012, attack there, was hired by the State Department despite having lost several other contracts in Libya, according to emails obtained by watchdog group Judicial Watch.

Blue Mountain was awarded a yearlong contract in March 2012. Three months later, Jairo Saravia, the State Department's acting security regional officer in Tripoli, sent an email to Regional Security Officer David Oliveira in Benghazi alerting him that the company had problems in Libya.

“Just a quick note in regards to Blue Mountain. The company has lost several security contracts here in Tripoli, including The Corinthian Hotel and Palm City complex," Saravia said in a June 7 email. "The latest information is Blue Mountain is not licensed by the [government of Libya] to provide security services in Libya. I would advise not to use their services to provide security for any of our annexes and/or offices due to the sensitivity this issue has with the current GOL."

Another email later cleared up the question of Blue Mountain's licensing, but the company's past problems in Libya weren't refuted, according to the documents.

Later that month, extra guards hired to temporarily bulk up security ahead of elections said they were afraid to work the night shift at the compound, forcing the State Department to change its plans for overnight security.

"Some of the guards do not want to work for the U.S. mission on the night shifts, again for fear of being targeted," Oliveira wrote in an email on June 28.

Also in June, Blue Mountain's British office had to address serious business concerns with its Libyan partner providing the guards. Blue Mountain's British representative, whose name was redacted from the emails, assured the State Department the issues with Blue Mountain Libya didn't affect Benghazi.

"My partners in Libya have not been 100% professional in their approach to business and development recently and to this end I have asked for a resolution to the issue and or a termination of our agreement with them," the representative said. "I would like to add that from an operational and professional point of view, the task in hand in Benghazi will not be affected."

The emails also show that in April the same year, a Blue Mountain guard was transferred away from the Benghazi compound after a fight with a guard from Libyan February 17th Martyrs Brigade, a Libyan militia group also providing security at the compound.

Judicial Watch obtained the documents in February through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit after the group's FOIA request for the emails was denied. The emails were released Tuesday.

“The American people have not been told the full truth about the events surrounding the terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton in a statement.

“And now, we find out that the security firm hired to protect our personnel, Blue Mountain, had a track record of failure and was openly fighting with the Libyan guards they were supposed to train and supervise. What a mess. And that we have to battle in court for this basic information shows the extent of the Obama administration's scandalous cover-up.”

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