Friday, November 2, 2012

Journalists Still Finding Abandoned Diplomatic Documents in Libya

Foreign Policy had a piece yesterday by Harald Doornbos and Jenan Moussa reporting that additional diplomatic documents are still being found in the U.S. consulate in Benghazi called "'Troubling' Surveillance Before Benghazi Attack" available here (thanks to Emptywheel, who has coverage of the issue here).

The Doornbos and Moussa piece begins:
More than six weeks after the shocking assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi -- and nearly a month after an FBI team arrived to collect evidence about the attack - the battle-scarred, fire-damaged compound where Ambassador Chris Stevens and another Foreign Service officer lost their lives on Sept. 11 still holds sensitive documents and other relics of that traumatic final day, including drafts of two letters worrying that the compound was under "troubling" surveillance and complaining that the Libyan government failed to fulfill requests for additional security.
The authors quote from some of the documents at length, but do not post copies.  The authors note that the documents remained in the compound despite an onsite investigation by the FBI, stating:
The continued threat to U.S. personnel in Benghazi may be the reason these documents escaped the FBI's attention. With suspected militants still roaming the streets, FBI investigators only had limited time to check the consulate compound. According to a Benghazi resident who resides near the consulate, the FBI team spent only three hours examining the compound.
The FBI declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.
Given the number of investigations and inquiries ongoing in relation to the attack on the consulate, the fact that relevant documents are still being found unsecured within the compound is truly remarkable. And given the intense debate and coverage of the attack and U.S. actions, the fact that apparently authentic documents can credibly still be found there also presumably increases the risk that fabricated ones designed to influence that ongoing debate could be too.