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Hillary Hired a Small UK Security Group for Benghazi That Not Even the UK Will Use

Hillary Hired a Small UK Security Group for Benghazi That Not Even the UK Will Use

By Tabassum Zakaria, Susan Cornwell and Hadeel Al Shalchi for Reuters

he State Department's decision to hire Blue Mountain Group to guard the ill-fated U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, entrusted security tasks to a little-known British company instead of the large firms it usually uses in overseas danger zones.

The contract was largely based on expediency, U.S. officials have said, since no one knew how long the temporary mission would remain in the Libyan city. The cradle of last year's uprising that ended Muammar Gaddafi's 42-year rule, Benghazi has been plagued by rising violence in recent months.

Security practices at the diplomatic compound, where Blue Mountain guards patrolled with flashlights and batons instead of guns, have come under U.S. government scrutiny in the wake of the September 11 attack in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

Federal contract data shows that the Benghazi security contract, worth up to $783,284, was listed as a "miscellaneous" award, not as part of the large master State Department contract that covers protection for overseas embassies.

"Blue Mountain was virtually unknown to the circles that studied private security contractors working for the United States, before the events in Benghazi," said Charles Tiefer, a commissioner at the Commission on Wartime Contracting, which studied U.S. contracting in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Several British government sources said that they were unfamiliar with Blue Mountain, which is based in Wales. They said British authorities used a different contractor for security protection in Libya.

Fred Burton, vice president of intelligence at the Stratfor consulting firm and a former U.S. diplomatic security agent, said he did not know Blue Mountain, but it likely got State Department work because it was already working in Libya.

"They may have been the path of least resistance," he said.

Blue Mountain was able to work in Libya because it forged a business alliance with a local security firm, as required by Libyan regulations.

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