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(37,305 posts)
Fri Sep 14, 2012, 12:26 PM Sep 2012

Did the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi Not Have Enough Security?

Did the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi Not Have Enough Security?
TIME speaks to the Libyan politician who had breakfast with U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens on the day of the American's death

Read more: http://world.time.com/2012/09/13/did-the-u-s-consulate-in-benghazi-not-have-enough-security/#ixzz26ShuVDJe

A tomato-and-onion omelette, washed down with hot coffee: that was the last breakfast of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens’ life. And although the scene in the U.S. consulate’s canteen in Benghazi on Tuesday morning looked serene, under the surface there were signs of potential trouble, according to the Libyan politician who had breakfast with Stevens the morning before the ambassador and three other Americans died in a violent assault by armed Islamic militants. “I told him the security was not enough,” Fathi Baja, a political-science professor and one of the leaders of Libya’s rebel government during last year’s revolution, told TIME on Thursday. “I said, ‘Chris, this is a U.S. consulate. You have to add to the number of people, bring Americans here to guard it because the Libyans are not trained.”

Stevens, says Baja, listened attentively — but it was too late. On Tuesday night, armed Islamic militants laid siege to the consulate, firing rockets and grenades into the main building and the annex, pinning the staff and its security detail inside the blazing complex; U.S. officials told reporters on Wednesday they believed it took Libyan security guards about four hours to regain control of the main building. In the chaos, Stevens was separated in the dark from his colleagues, and hours later was transported by Libyans to a Benghazi hospital, where he died, alone, apparently of asphyxiation from the smoke.

U.S. officials told reporters on Wednesday that the Benghazi consulate had “a robust American security presence, including a strong component of regional security officers.” And indeed, one of the four Americans killed was former Navy SEAL Glen Doherty, who was “on security detail” and “protecting the ambassador,” his sister Katie Quigly told the Boston Globe. Also killed was an information-management officer, Sean Smith. The fourth American who died has not yet been identified. Yet Baja describes a very different picture from his visit on Tuesday morning, even remarking at how relaxed the scene was when he returned to the consulate building a short while after leaving Stevens, in order to collect the mobile phone he had accidentally left behind. “The consulate was very calm, with video [surveillance] cameras outside,” Baja says. “But inside there were only four security guards, all Libyans — four! — and with only Kalashnikovs on their backs. I said, ‘Chris, this is the most powerful country in the world. Other countries all have more guards than the U.S.,’” he says, naming as two examples Jordan and Morocco.

With the compound now an evacuated, smoldering ruin, Baja, who befriended Stevens in Benghazi during last year’s seven-month civil war, and in recent weeks had shared long Ramadan dinners with him, says he felt stricken not only by the loss but also by the sense that perhaps the tragedy could have been averted, had there been tighter security on the ground, and — more especially — had Libya’s nascent government cracked down against armed militia groups. Bristling with weaponry, much of it from Muammar Gaddafi’s huge abandoned arsenals, groups of former fighters have been permitted to act as local security forces in towns across Libya during the postwar upheaval in order to fill the security vacuum, despite the scant loyalty among many of them to the new democracy. “Up to now, there has been cover from the government for these extremist people,” Baja says, adding that he and Stevens had discussed for months the urgent threats from armed militia. “[Government officials] still pay them salaries, and I think this is disgusting.”

Read more: http://world.time.com/2012/09/13/did-the-u-s-consulate-in-benghazi-not-have-enough-security/#ixzz26Si8Wls6

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Did the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi Not Have Enough Security? (Original Post) dkf Sep 2012 OP
with hindsight id say hell no. hopefully lessons learned loli phabay Sep 2012 #1
Consulates can be staffed by a lot of locals and are mostly there to promote trade and that JDPriestly Sep 2012 #2


(57,936 posts)
2. Consulates can be staffed by a lot of locals and are mostly there to promote trade and that
Fri Sep 14, 2012, 01:51 PM
Sep 2012

sort of thing in my experience. They fly a flag and hire security, but they are not usually sensitive diplomatic missions.

We don't know why Stevens was in Benghazi, but surely he did not normally spend a lot of time there. Was he encouraged to be there by someone with ulterior motives? Someone pretending to be a friend but actually an enemy? Why was he in Benghazi and not in Tripoli? Was he investigating the Al Qaeda presence in the region? Just wanting to drink the water?

I would not expect an outpost mission in a country that has recently undergone a revolution to be all that well staffed or defended. This seems normal to me.

Am I wrong? I lived overseas but was never connected to the State Department or any US agency. I'm just commenting based on my experience living in other countries in Europe. And I would expect US consulates in Europe to be more secure than those in Benghazi.

Seems to me somebody is just seeking headlines and outrage for his own purposes.

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