Via State Dept. spokesman Jen Psaki. Attributable directly to [Daniel] Benjamin.
Statement by Former Coordinator for Counterterrorism Ambassador Daniel Benjamin May 6, 2013
It has been alleged that the State Department’s Counterterrorism Bureau was cut out of the discussion and decision-making in the aftermath of the Benghazi attacks. I ran the bureau then, and I can say now with certainty, as the former Coordinator for Counterterrorism, that this charge is simply untrue. Though I was out of the country on official travel at the time of the attack, I was in frequent contact with the Department. At no time did I feel that the Bureau was in any way being left out of deliberations that it should have been part of.
After the attack, the first question to arise that involved the CT Bureau was whether or not the Foreign Emergency Support Team (FEST) should be deployed. This interagency team is designed to assist and advise the U.S. Chief of Mission in assessing crises and coordinating U.S. government crisis response activities. The question of deployment was posed early, and the Department decided against such a deployment. In my view, it was appropriate to pose the question, and the decision was also the correct one. There is nothing automatic about a FEST deployment, and in some circumstances, a deployment could well be counterproductive.
After Benghazi, such a deployment would have had little positive impact and might well have complicated the difficult situation of US personnel on the ground in Libya. If I had believed the decision that was taken to have been incorrect, I would personally have raised the question of the FEST again.
The foremost concerns for the Department immediately after Benghazi were to ensure that no further violence was carried out against Americans in Libya or elsewhere around the world. Those issues belonged above all to the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the regional bureaus.
The Bureau was a central participant in the interagency discussion about the longer-term response to Benghazi. At no time was the Bureau sidelined or otherwise kept from carrying out its tasks.
Chief Washington Correspondent
Host, “The Foxhole”