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TODAY   |  May 09, 2013

Emotional testimony over Benghazi security requests

At a Congressional hearing on the deadly U.S. embassy attack in Benghazi, State Department officials described their frustration over inadequate security and their inability to help their colleagues in Libya. NBC’s Lisa Myers reports.

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>> very emotional testimony. as well as minute by minute detail at that congressional hearing examining the deadly attack on the u.s. mission in benghazi , libya, last september 11th . nbc news investigative correspondent lisa myers has the story. good morning, lisa.

>> natalie, good morning. this was a rare moment in washington when political bickering was overshadowed by the raw emotion. describing frustration, over inadequate security and their inability to get help for colleagues that terrible night in benghazi .

>> reporter: a few hours after the benghazi mission was attacked, received a call that ambassador chris stevens was dead.

>> i think it's the saddest phone call i've ever had in my life.

>> as the battle raged on, he says he asked the u.s. military to send air support and allow four special forces troops in tripoli to go to benghazi . both requests denied.

>> lieutenant colonel gibson was furious. i had told him to go bring our people home. that's what he wanted to do.

>> the pentagon says the special forces were needed to protect the embassy in tripoli and the f-16s, hours away. the top security officer in libya last summer says it's inexplicable that an independent review of what happened didn't focus more on decisions by senior officials. he says getting to the truth matters.

>> it matters to the friends and family of ambassador stevens, shawn smith , glen dougherty and tyler woods.

>> he says after he challenged inaccurate accounts of the tragedy, he was demoted. the state department denies punishing anyone. natalie?

>> all right, lisa myers in washington, thank you, lisa.