No threat assessment in Benghazi prior to ambassador's arrival, source says
An intelligence source on the ground in Libya told Fox News that no threat assessment was conducted before U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and his team began "taking up residence" at the Benghazi compound -- describing the security lapses as a "total failure."
The claim comes more than two weeks after Stevens and three other Americans were killed in what is now being described officially as a terror attack possibly tied to Al Qaeda.
The source told Fox News that there was no real security equipment installed in the villas on the compound except for a few video cameras.
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst, the intelligence source said the security lapses were a 10 -- a "total failure" because Benghazi was known to be a major area for extremist activity.
There had been four attacks or attempted attacks on diplomatic and western targets leading up to the Sept. 11 strike on the U.S. Consulate.
Based on that information, a former regional security officer for diplomatic security told Fox News, the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi had to have been classified or assessed by the State Department as a "critical threat terrorism or civil unrest posting."
Fox News was told that State Department standards for diplomatic missions overseas dictate physical security standards for this classification. There are two sets -- classified and unclassified requirements.
The unclassified standards include a 100-foot setback for the buildings from the exterior walls which should be three meters high, in addition to reinforced ballistic doors and windows which can withstand an hour of sustained assault.
Based on the video and photos, none appear present at the consulate.
The former regional security officer, who has worked in the Middle East, told Fox News that the standards are designed to give an ambassador, his or her team and diplomatic security that "golden hour" to burn classified dockets and call in military help for an emergency evacuation
The mounting questions regarding security at the compound prompted all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday to write to the State Department asking for additional details about security at U.S. diplomatic posts and for a fuller explanation of the attacks on U.S. compounds in Libya, Egypt and Yemen.
Lawmakers have raised concern about the administration's changing story. Officials initially described the attack as a "spontaneous" assault triggered by protests in Cairo over an anti-Islam film. They later described the attack as terrorism.
And sources told Fox News on Thursday that intelligence officials knew it was a terror attack within 24 hours -- prompting additional questions from lawmakers about why they were told otherwise during briefings on Capitol Hill.