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White House, State Department Silent on Benghazi Attack on Eve of Anniversary

2:01 PM, Sep 10, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
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Although the White House posted its annual Presidential Proclamation of National Days of Prayer and Remembrance commemorating September 11th, 2001, there is no mention of the Benghazi attacks of 2012.  One day before the 12th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks and the first anniversary of the Benghazi attacks, there are no travel alerts, cautions, or other warnings on the State Department website related to the anniversary.  A search of the State Department website so far in September turns up just one reference to Benghazi, and that was in a reporter's question to President Obama at the G-20 summit about the U.S. attack on Libya in 2011.

The State Department's most recent Worldwide Travel Alert resulted in the temporary closure of almost two dozen embassies due to credible threats from al Qaeda and its affiliates, but that alert expired on August 31, and has been removed from the website. The 2013 hurricane season is the top travel concern based on the current travel headline of the State Department's travel page.

While the main State Department website is silent about the upcoming anniversary, some individual embassies around the world have posted local warnings, for instance Nigeria and Libya.  The notice from the embassy in Tripoli reads in part:

Security Message for U.S. Citizens:  Anniversary of September 11 Attacks
September 2, 2013
Embassy of the United States of America
Tripoli, Libya

As the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches, the U.S. Embassy in Libya reminds U.S. citizens of the need for caution and awareness of personal security.  During the days surrounding September 11, the embassy plans to restrict movement of embassy personnel to essential travel only.  Only emergency American Citizen Services will be offered from September 5-15.

The Benghazi attacks from 2012 are not mentioned, and the Country Specific Information about Libya for travelers on the Travel.State.Gov website does not list this embassy warning.

On a related note, President Obama had no Presidential Daily Briefing from Thursday, August 29, until Monday, September 9, according to the official White House schedule.  The president has of course had numerous well-publicized meetings with cabinet members, national security staff, and members of Congress over the proposed action against Syria that may have obviated the need for the regular daily briefing, but the focus of those extra meetings is likely to have largely been Syria, not the upcoming anniversary or related security matters.  The president's overseas trip to Sweden and the G-20 meeting may have interfered with the regular briefings as well.

The president received some criticism in the wake of the Benghazi attacks in 2012 since the White House schedule reported his most recent Daily Briefing had come six days before the attacks on September 5.  Additionally, statements and notices from the State Department before those attacks seemed to downplay or discount the significance of the anniversary date relative to further terrorism.  Events in Libya, Egypt, and elsewhere in the Middle East soon showed otherwise.

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