World Bulletin/News Desk
State Department officials in May denied a request from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli to allow a security team to continue using an official U.S. DC-3 aircraft, suggesting they could charter a plane instead, an unclassified email obtained by Reuters shows.
The email dated May 3, carrying the subject line "Termination of Tripoli DC-3 Support," was copied to Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya who was killed with three other Americans in an attack on the Benghazi mission on Sept. 11 this year.
The email is among documents U.S. investigators are examining to determine whether requests before the Benghazi attack for security improvements at U.S. diplomatic posts in Libya were denied by State Department headquarters.
The email says Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy "has determined that support for Embassy Tripoli using the DC-3 will be terminated immediately."
The diplomatic post's request "to continue use of the plane in support of the SST was considered. However, it was decided that, if needed, NEA will charter a special flight for their final departure." NEA refers to the State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs which covers Libya and other countries in that region.
SST stands for Security Support Team, and according to the State Department's website such a team's job is to enhance security at U.S. embassies and consulates that face civil unrest, hostile hosts or any other threat.
It was not immediately clear whether the lack of the plane played any role in security problems at U.S. facilities in Libya, culminating with the Sept. 11 attack.
The plane in question was officially assigned to the State Department's international narcotics and law enforcement bureau, which provides foreign governments with assistance fighting organized crime and drug trafficking.
The email ends with "Regards!" and was signed by the State Department's post management officer for Libya and Saudi Arabia based in Washington.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner described the decision to move the plane as standard practice.
"This plane was in Iraq at the time and moved to support Libya early on when there was no commercial airline service into Libya. This is a very common practice in places where there is no commercial airline service. When commercial service was subsequently established we then moved that asset back to other State Department business," he told a news briefing.
Toner said he did not have information on the plane's operational schedule while in Libya, or on the specific date when it was moved out of the country.
Country is last in western Balkans to be recommended for travel liberalization
PM Cameron's government says unaccompanied child asylum-seekers 'will be resettled from Greece, Italy and France'
Huseyin Ozgurgun says his government supports reunification talks with Greek Cypriots
'It's going to take more to win. We're gonna win but we all need to do more,' Pentagon chief says
Saudi, Qatar, UAE and Turkey foreign ministers are due to travel to France to discuss situation in Syria
European Commission proposes to lift the visa requirements for Turkish citizens on condition that Ankara fulfils criteria set by the EU
'The defense ministry is taking a range of measures with the aim of countering the build-up of NATO forces in close proximity to Russia's borders,' defense minister says
On Tuesday night NATO has announced that it will allow Israel to open a permanent office at its headquarters in Brussels
Kenyan authorities have uncovered a terror cell Linked to ISIL that is suspected of plotting a “biological attack” on the East African nation and recruiting university students to Libya and Syria.
An Albanian court has sentenced nine defendants to jail sentences of up to 18 years on Tuesday for recruiting people to fight in Syria's civil war.
Agreement 'is continuing to fray, particularly in some areas in and around Aleppo', White House cautions
ISIL had briefly overtaken Tel Skuf in 2014, but town later fell back into hands of peshmerga forces
New data says Sub-Saharan region feeling effects of drought, commodity price shocks
ISIL militants killed a U.S. Navy SEAL in northern Iraq on Tuesday after blasting through Kurdish defenses and overrunning a town in the biggest offensive in the area for months, officials said.
'I hope that by the end of May, when we meet at the G7 summit, the implementation of Greece's programme is positively assessed,' EU president says
Republican front-runner Trump is expected to clinch party’s nomination in California primary in June