Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Defense Department did not receive a request to provide extra security at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi leading up to Sept. 11, 2012, despite evidence that the security situation was deteriorating there.
Several senators pressed Dempsey and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta on why there was not additional security at the consulate, during a Thursday hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Dempsey clarified that such a request would have originated with the State Department, which bears primary responsibility for diplomatic missions.
Panetta told the committee there was no intelligence of an imminent attack on Benghazi on Sept. 11.
“This was pure and simple the absence of any kind of advanced warning,” he said.
Dempsey admitted that in hindsight, the evidence did point to a high threat level in Benghazi, but the department’s intelligence was not clear at the time.
“In looking back at it, of course it looks like it should have been crystal clear there was an attack imminent,” he said.
General Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command, placed a call to the consulate to ask if they wanted additional security and was told no, Dempsey added.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., ripped Dempsey for the department’s response to the “almost predictable” attack.
“You did not take into account the threats on that consulate and that’s why four Americans died,” he said.