Terence P. Jeffrey @ CNS News:
The State Department took two dramatically different approaches to dealing with the identities of the Diplomatic Security (DS) agents it sent to Benghazi, Libya, to protect Amb. Chris Stevens and the small number of other temporary U.S. diplomatic personnel the department rotated through what its own review board would later admit was a “lawless town.”
Before the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, the department undertook a calculated effort to publicize the agents’ names and faces–presenting them in a State Department promotional magazine posted on the Internet. After the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attacks, the State Department has treated the names and faces of the DS agents who survived those attacks as if they were classified information.
This remarkable about-face raises two questions: Why can’t the American people know the names–and hear the stories–of the heroic DS agents who fought the terrorists who attacked our mission in Benghazi? Why can’t these courageous survivors deliver their eyewitnesses accounts directly to the U.S. Congress?
So far, the Obama administration has publicly released only the names of the Americans whom the terrorists killed in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012. These were Amb. Chris Stevens and Information Management Officer Sean Smith, who worked for the State Department, and former Navy Seals Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, who worked for the Central Intelligence Agency.
The December 2011 issue of the State Department’s State Magazine featured a cover story about then-Special Envoy Chris Stevens mission to Benghazi during the 2011 Libyan rebellion. The story, which began as the centerfold of the magazine, was written by DS Special Agent Mario Montoya, named the DS special agents protecting Stevens, and carried photographs of some of them.
All U.S. government personnel who were in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012 and survived remain unnamed.
The report that the State Department’s Accountability Review Board published on Dec. 19 refers to the five DS agents who survived only by acronyms: “RSO,” and “ARSO 1,” “ARSO 2,” “ARSO 3” and “ARSO 4.” RSO stands for regional security officer. ARSO stands for assistant regional security officer.
Last October, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing on the Benghazi attack. The committee took testimony from Charlene Lamb, who ran the department’s suburban-Virginia-based Bureau of Diplomatic Security. It also took testimony from Eric Nordstrom, who was the RSO at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli until July 26, 2012–and was no longer in Libya at the time of the Benghazi terrorist attack. And it additionally took testimony from Amb. Patrick Kennedy, the undersecretary of state for management.