But a spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, indicated that some lawmakers may have been aware of Stevens exchange with Ham.
Decisions conveyed by Ambassador Stevens were made on behalf of the U.S. State Department, the spokesman, Frederick Hill, said in an email. There were certainly robust debates between State and Defense officials over the mission and controlling authority of such forces. The lack of discussion by the public ARB report about the role inter-agency tension played in a lack of security resources remains a significant concern of the Oversight Committee.
One person familiar with the events said Stevens might have rejected the offers because there was an understanding within the State Department that officials in Libya ought not to request more security, in part because of concerns about the political fallout of seeking a larger military presence in a country that was still being touted as a foreign policy success.
The embassy was told through back channels to not make direct requests for security, an official familiar with the case, who agreed to discuss the case only anonymously because of the sensitivity of the subject, told McClatchy.
Still, the offer from Ham provided Stevens with a chance to plead for more assistance, an opportunity he apparently did not seize.
Congressional hearings into the Benghazi attacks there were in fact two, one on a compound often referred to as the consulate, where Stevens and State Department computer specialist Sean Smith died, and a second hours later on a nearby CIA annex, where two security contractors, former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, were killed have focused primarily on the events during the night of the attacks and subsequent statements by Obama administration officials.
There have been fewer questions, however, about the months leading up to the attack and how the State Department, the CIA and defense officials addressed a growing security problem. Among the questions that have not been probed is why the Benghazi mission, with its large CIA contingent, remained open when other Western countries, most notably Great Britain, had pulled out of Benghazi in the weeks preceding the attacks because of security concerns.
Officials have publicly referred to Hams phone call before. In his Feb. 7 testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the military was aware of the Aug. 16 cable and that someone had turned down Hams offer.
Referring to the cable, Dempsey said: I was aware of it, because it came in, in Gen. Hams report. Gen. Ham actually called the embassy to, to see if they wanted to extend the special security team there and was said and was told no.
Dempsey said the State Department never requested more from the military.
We never received a request for support from the State Department, which would have allowed us to put forces on the ground, Dempsey told the committee.
The Aug. 16 cable remains classified. But Fox News has quoted liberally from it, reporting that State Department officials convened a meeting a day earlier to discuss security, which the cable described as trending negatively.