As the circumstances of events surrounding the September terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya become clearer, 11th Congressional District candidates are taking distinct skeptical approaches to what may or may not have happened before the attack.
Republican Judy Biggert's skepticism involves what she believes may have been an illogical lack of precaution at the embassy.
"We should investigate why this attack was able to succeed -- why after months of unrest and threats, there was still insufficient security in place to ensure the safety of our personnel," Biggert said in a written interview. "So soon after the overthrow of the (Muammar) Gadhafi regime, and in an unstable city like Benghazi, common sense should have dictated that the Libyan government could not be relied upon to protect our personnel and facilities."
Biggert and her opponent, Democrat Bill Foster, both condemn the attack. Foster's skepticism, however, regards criticism of the level of security at the embassy after the fact. Foster said it's unclear the attack could have been thwarted even if 20 Navy Seals were protecting the embassy.
"The amount of military force that would be required to protect each and every one of our diplomatic missions around the world is something that we can't afford," Foster said. "That having been said, I think it's appropriate to review the security situation and the amount and number of forces that we're putting into these."
Foster said if evidence surfaces that Ambassador Chris Stevens or embassy workers specifically requested security reinforcements prior to the attack, he "would react a lot differently" to the criticism some Republicans are heaping on the State Department.
Some of evidence already exists that Stevens was worried about "never-ending security threats in Benghazi" as brought to light by CNN's reporting of the contents of Stevens' diary recovered in the embassy rubble. Foster said the diary doesn't indicate if he shared those fears with the State Department.
A specific investigation of the security at the embassy in Libya is already under way. On Tuesday, Republican Congressman Darrell Issa and Jason Chaffetz said they had evidence that American diplomats did make repeated requests for increased security at the embassy. The State Department has not yet answered questions about any requests for extra security, but a Congressional hearing is scheduled Oct. 10.