“The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three embassy staff were killed in an attack on the Benghazi consulate and a safe house refuge, stormed by Islamist gunmen blaming America for a film they said insulted the Prophet Mohammad.” And the fact that it happened on 9/11 was just an unfortunate coincidence. The Benghazi consulate was little more than an office building which, according to CBS, was guarded by Libyan security forces who were outgunned and “retreated when the building was stormed” and the lead (and RPGs) started to fly. So the place wasn’t protected by high walls and Marines the way a full-blown embassy would have been . . .
The US State Department employees in Benghazi were working in a formerly hostile country, albeit one with better feelings toward the US given our support for their uprising against Moammar Quaddafi. Still, WaPo says the attack baffled Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:
“Today many Americans are asking — indeed I asked myself — how could this happen,” she said. “How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction? This question reflects just how complicated and, at times, how confounding, the world can be. But we must be clear-eyed even in our grief. This was an attack by a small and savage group, not by the people or government of Libya.”
That may be. But there are more “small and savage groups” in the Middle East just itching to take a shot at Americans than Hillary or President Obama can shake a stick at. But we’re guessing even a stick-shaking response will be ruled out in this case as too bellicose and unproductive.
So the question is, were these diplomats – people stationed in the most dangerous part of the world for US citizens – armed? If not, why not? Just about any Middle East billet can and should be considered hostile to Americans when all it takes to muster an angry mob is a harmless cartoon. Does the State Department even allow its foreign service workers to pack anything besides a smile and a passport when they go to work each day? We’ve sent those questions to Foggy Bottom to find out. Watch this space.