Yesterday, The Washington Post reported that a trove of sensitive U.S. documents have been lying in plain sight at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi for almost a month. Today, the Post itself has become part of the story: How the heck did they get inside the consulate?
After all, on Monday, the Obama administration withdrew all U.S. personnel from Benghazi citing security concerns—the same security concerns that have prevented the FBI from beginning its on-the-ground investigation into the deadly Sept. 11 attacks. One would think that Post reporter Michael Birnbaum must've gone through hell and high water to enter that consulate and closely examine the sensitive U.S. documents. Turns out, entering was pretty easy, according to a Q&A the Post published with Birnbaum a few moments ago:
How were you able to waltz right into the compound so easily?
I asked the owner of the compound if I could go in, and he said yes.
There’s still no official guard outside the compound ... only two security guards provided by the owner ...
Why were these documents still lying around?
The investigation has been moving incredibly slowly. The FBI has not yet been to Benghazi because of security concerns. I’ve spoken to witnesses who say they haven’t been contacted by either the Libyan or U.S. government.
There are lots of things still in the compound. There are documents that are still there — sensitive things that could endanger peoples’ lives.
Yikes. Birnbaum doesn't elaborate in the Q&A about what kind of life-endangering documents he's referring to, but in his story he cites "documents detailing weapons collection efforts, emergency evacuation protocols, the full internal itinerary of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens’s trip and the personnel records of Libyans who were contracted to secure the mission were among the items scattered across the floors of the looted compound." At this point, we'd say the FBI should read Birnbaum's story and go secure the U.S. documents but it appears they may already have. According to a story breaking on CBS News, FBI officials have now finally visited the consulate "more than three weeks after [the] deadly assault ... According to a U.S. official, the FBI team collected whatever evidence they could from the site to the extent possible." What a coincidence! Better late than never?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.