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“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.

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  1. I’ve heard there are rules from the DOD that civilian personnel cannot have firearms when they are deployed to potential hotspots. Security is supposed to be the responsibility of security contractors, DSS, MSG, the military and not to mention the host nation.

    I’d ignore that and first chance I got, find someone willing to sell me a gun. Those people are animals and I really dont trust them.

        • He didn’t get force protection training? Everybody I know who went to any war zone had to go through FP training and part that was qualifying.

          I don’t know which agency you work for but I would check with your detailers to find out how to do it.

    • I have a buddy who was there as part of the diplomatic mission, and had to be evac’d. I know for a fact that State taught him how to shoot an AK, but I very much doubt that they expected him to carry. Based on what happened, I don’t know how much carrying would have helped, either…

  2. A good friend of mine has spent a lot of time in third world hellholes. He was required to bring a weapon and was supposed to carry it. When he got in country he locked it up in a safe. His attitude was, and still is, when I guy with a SiG meets a bunch of guys with AKs and RPGs the guy with the SiG dies. It doesn’t matter if you take some of them with you. You are still a corpse. You either talk your way out of it or they have their way with you so to speak.

    • I don’t understand your point. Are you saying that when people with AKs are shoting at you and you have a SIG, you’re better off just laying down and dying?

      • I think he is saying it doesn’t matter. You die no matter what. In repsonse to RF it doesn’t mattter. They could of been carrying, or they could not have. Perhaps the Marines were, I doubt the Ambasador carrie. Either way, they died. A couple of handguns isn’t going to be much defense agianst an RPG. You may have well as chucked bacon at them.

      • I think he is saying that if you are attacked by a mob of guys with AKs, and you only have a Sig and try shooting your way out, you are guaranteed to die (one handgun vs. a dozen rifles). However if you are unarmed and surrender, you have a chance of talking your way out, being ransomed out, escaping at a later time, there exists the possibility of options other than bleeding out in the street. Of course, none of this comes with any guarantee.

        • I think the time for hostages passed years ago/ now it’s better to kill the American than to take him alive. I still say, neutron bombs are so clean…….
          Love the Clinton thing:

          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.”

          Let me throw some points out there;
          they see a woman’s ankle and they think of rape/,
          they are followers of a religion that believes in peace only after the eradication of all non believers/
          they worship their prophet more than their god/
          they believe in lying as a way of destroying their enemies, a religious law.
          just a few…..

      • What I’m saying is it doesn’t matter if you are armed or not. The choice whether you live or die is up to them not you. You will not be shooting your way out of the situation like they do on TV or the movies.

  3. I would take issue with calling Egypt a “formerly hostile” country. Also with Clinton’s claim that we helped liberate Egypt. Other than providing the Facebook and the Google executive I don’t know how we contributed.

      • “The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three embassy staff were killed”

        D’oh! I should read before I snark. In that case, can we have the several billion with a ‘b’ dollars we spent on helping them overthrow Qaddafi back?

  4. I find it a bit hard to believe that USMC would have succumbed to this rabble, considering the Tet attack on the Embassy in Saigon. Was the job subcontracted out?

    • This was a consulate, not an embassy, and was probably just a temporary facility. It did not have the level of security that the embassy in Vietnam had, or other embassies in hot spots around the world (like pak and afgan istans.) Doubtful that they had Marine guards, but we will have to wait and see who the other two Americans killed were. I recall reading that most embassy security has been contracted out, but that recollection is a bit fuzzy. I do recall that the State Department hires lots of security contractors, particularly for security outside the embassy.

      • Yup. It sounds like the ambassador had a small security detail (2-3 guys, probably PMCs with an outfit like Triple Canopy- i.e., former SF), but it’s nothing like the security at an Embassy.

      • There were Marines at the Embassy in Cairo, and that apparently wasn’t enough to prevent the mob from climbing over the walls, stealing the American Flag off the flag pole, defiling and destroying the American Flag, and replacing it with an Islamic flag.

      • You’d think, but no. It has been the position since at least Clinton that the Marines are not to use lethal force to defend an embassy. The idea being that it would only make things worse to open up on a crowd of protesters with an M249 (no matter how much they deserve it – remembering that breeching an embassy is an act of war). Of course we see how this policy really works – two embassies and four us citizens and protesters know that they will get away with it. Don’t forget, after the USS Cole was bombed. Sailors were not allowed to draw weapons from the magazine, and defend the ship from (potential) secondary attack with small arms because the Cole was in a “friendly” port. It would, in the eyes of the State Department, have been better for the Cole to get hit again, than some seaman shooting up a bunch of foreign nationals on a fishing boat.

      • Yeah, the Marines probably would not have been allowed to fight back. According to several USMC blogs, Obama’s ambassador to Egypt issued a directive that the embassy Marines could NOT carry live ammo. Which explains why they could not prevent the trashing of the US embassy in Cairo, and also explains why the ambassador issued an apology to the Islamics for the “unfortunate use of the First Amendment” by an American filmmaker.

        Keep in mind that an embassy in every country in the world is sovereign territory of the country with that embassy, and that the “host country” has no control over that patch of land. This is why the Soviets were able to install numerous radio/phone intercept antennas on their embassy in Wash DC, and why that weasel Julian Assaunge (Wikileaks) has taken refuge in a foreign embassy in England (so they can’t deport him to Norway).

        Our Marines have every right to defend our embassies, as US soil, the same as any other country has to defend theirs in America. This whole thing in Libya and Egypt is very much like Jimmy Carter’s spineless response to the Iranians taking our embassy and our diplomats hostage for 400+ days. Fairly typical Democrat response to an assault on America: “oh gee, what did we do to offend the Islamics? we’re so sorry.”

    • MC Embassy Security Group’s mission is NOT to protect all the embassy and its personnel. Its mission is to protect the Chancery only, and then first and foremost critical infrastructure and classified information.

      Contrary to public belief (and despite what you see in movies) we are not body guards. Each embassy has its own security force for internal security. The first line of defense is normally embassy security guards, who are not Americans (and generally are host country nationals.)

      External security of the embassy is always the responsibility of the host nation.

  5. The three staffers killed were reported by another media source as bodyguards who should have been armed.

    The USG and DoD have a bad history of under-arming or limiting US personal overseas from the weapons they can carry for defense to rules of engagement. Consider past tragedies: the suicide-truck bombing of the Marine Corp barracks in Lebanon, US DoD specifically refusing to equip the Rangers, Marines, and others with armored vehicles for emergencies resulting in the ‘Blackhawk Down’ incident in Mogadishu, the suicide-bomb speedboat ramming into the USS Cole, etc.

    • That has a lot to do with the fact that any time one of them pulls a trigger it is an international incident. Remember the brouhaha when that CIA contractor in Pakistan killed the two guys he claimed were trying to kill him? It took forever to get him out of the country.

    • All the tacticool stuff in the world won’t save you from an RPG to the SUV.

      Not saying that they shouldn’t be armed – of course they should – but sometimes having small arms just isn’t enough, when you really need a IFV with reactive armor.

        • The reports I’ve seen say the attackers were firing rifles and RPGs at the consulate, and set it on fire to flush out the ambassador (who had taken refuge in an armored saferoom).

          He got out somehow (details unknown), and some locals found him (not knowing who he was) and took him to a hospital, but he’d breathed too much smoke, and never regained consciousness.

          The FBI report will make for interesting reading.

  6. Sounds like a pretty cheap way to keep Americans in the corner, scared of terrorism. The cost being minimal collateral damage. If the building is little more than an office and Libyan guards where posted, and no Marines… Well… Not a whole lot to worry about. The whole 9/11 thing is shockingly “coincidental” if you want to buy that line of BS.

  7. If this was 2007, every other comment on the Internet would be: ‘its Bush’s fault’ regardless of what the subject was all about.

  8. This was a consulate. MSG’s are only in tripoli. The diplomats were protected by The State Dept’s Bureau of Dipolmatic Security, who are armed:

    In a high threat environment, are personally armed with M4’s and Sig229’s. They have signiciantly more firepower available if permission is granted to carry it (think 203’s, M249’s and 240G’s and up). I doubt they were carried on this mission.

  9. Unlike the The Wind And The Lion (a great movie btw), diplomats have a mission. It is diplomacy. It is not to kill their way around the host nation. We may object to that mission. We may balk at having to talk rather than shoot. But that is their mission. If folks don’t like it then don’t join the diplomatic corps. Just like a Marine given the order to “take that hill” understanding there will be high number of wounded and killed (thinking of how many assaults Hamburger hill had). It is not his option to object or modify the order. That’s what he signed up for and vowed to do.

    • Agreed – diplomats do their work in very tense situations because they operate under an umbrella that any molestation of their persons will bring a shrieking shitstorm to the host nation.

      Clearly that myth has been busted – unless there is a team of Deltas en-route with a big sack of ammo, a stack of photos and a map of Benghazi.

      • News reports are saying that according to unnamed sources, a Marine FAST (Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team) detachment has already been dispatched to Libya to sort things out.

        Sending a group of badass elite Marines sounds like an appropriate level of response to me.

      • In hotter spots DSS will usually carry (at least outside the wall). Someone else mentioned this as well that the attack was at a consulate and not the embassy itself. Most of our consulates are staffed by local security (wackenhut comes to mind).

        In more stable countries, there is a normalcy bias of “it won’t happen here” amongst many RSOs and DRSOs. Upon pointing out that there was a fire escape propped open at street level that lead up to a secure area of a particular embassy, I was told by the RSO “Don’t worry about that. No one will climb all those stairs.”

        Hopefully this attitude will change.

        • I think that’s incorrrect. RSO shops get inspected on a scheduled basis and things like you described would be a major ding on their security. Additionally, most RSO’s and their employees have now served at least one High Threat tour at this point. If your going to EUR it’s practically mandatory. So your one experience with a slack RSO does not allow you to paint the entire group with a “normalcy bias” brush. I am guessing there’s more to that story anyway.

          Carrying in a Foreign country is not always allowed. Especially in the more “stable” countries. There is no second amendment in other countries and as accredited diplomats carrying a weapon can be a lot more complicated than you understand. This isn’t James Bond and DSS agents don’t have a license to kill. Also, working under. SOFA is not the same as the Veinna Convention.

        • I’ve been both impressed and dismayed at what happens at our missions. You’ve obviously been around or are in state circles. The fact of the matter is that the RSO and his staff ignored a blatant physical security vulnerability despite having it brought to his attention.

          This was EUR and most other posts didn’t have the same problem, but I will say it’s not isolated to EUR.

          While painting the entire DSS with that attitude would be incorrect, what I said did happen post 9/11.

          By the way I understand the complicated nature of carrying in developed countries despite what you may assume.

  10. Just remember who put these ROPers in power, the same guy that ditched Netenyahu for an appearance on The Late Show, the same guy that will be Licking the feet of the MB Prezzy of Egypt in the WH very soon, like next week.
    I tell you it’s getting Biblical

  11. I can’t speak for other countries, but the US Emabssy in the Philippines is heavily fortified and guarded. Consulate offices? Not so much, because they are just satellite offices. not “headquarters” so to speak. God forbid you find yourself overseas when the “poop hits the ventilator”, the last place you want to go is the US embassy. That will be ground zero for spreading poop. Try to make your way to the Canadian, British, French embassies or consulates.

    • Hell, the US embassy in Oslo, Norway was impressively guarded. Need climbing gear or some parkour/Jackie Chan crap to get over that fence. Pretty sure there are also plainclothesed (weird word) Americans patrolling the streets nearby. For a country where you can have an hours long train ride and never make eye connect with the person facing you a couple feet away, there were a surprising number of pedestrians right outside the embassy glaring directly into my eyes after I’d been trying to spot the security. 😀 Yeah, probably have a file now. I hope they got my good side.

  12. We have hundreds of thousands of US forces stationed overseas, and yet we can’t spare a few dozen Marines to guard our Ambassador in an unstable country full of anti-American militants? Hillary is surprised — she should be mad.

  13. The US is the worlds useful idiots.

    Once you get that person away that most effects and they hate more, they just go to hating you, even though you helped them kill that person.

    On the other hand to the Democrats we can’t support the guys who like us when we help.

  14. How exactly is the murder of our Ambassador not an act of war? Unless the government of Libya starts cracking some heads, we are dealing with regime for whom rampaging barbarians murdering US diplomats is a feature, not a bug.

    • How exactly is the murder of our Ambassador not an act of war?

      Acts of war are carried out by agents of a government. Until it is determined that these guys took orders from a government, this is not an act of war.

      I’m quite certain the government of Libya (such as it is) would be absolutely delighted to hand the people responsible for this over to us.

  15. This is a small issue on the periphery of a much larger one, RF. It’s insane NOT to carry if you’re in these countries but I don’t think it would’ve made much of a difference in this case. I’d like to write a bit about some of my observations related to this event.

    Already some are blaming that kook Terry Jones for all of this. Get ready for the possibility of speech codes and comparisons between this incident and yelling fire in a crowded theater.

    “The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. … Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”

    This, fellow secularists, says all we need to know about the supposedly “secular” American left in government. They’re liars and cowards who don’t believe anyone should criticize a world religion because it’ll offend a bunch of delusional psychotics’ feelings.

    Some of these folks might not believe in a supernatural god but to many the state is their god and their ideology their religion. I’ve spoken with radical leftists who coddle the Islamists, in part, because they believe they are the new anti-imperialists. They’re not! They want an Islamic empire of their very own and they’ll do whatever it takes to get it.

  16. Please take to time to check out today’s Stars and Stripes on the web for a complete story on the Benghazi consulate raid. Seemingly, the attack on our consulate was conducted using the movie protest as cover. Approximately 50 individuals launched a well co-ordinated attack using direct and indirect fire weapons. One wonders what intel the jihadist scooped up .

  17. If they had been armed, the media coverage would be about how evil American consulate staff gunned down several barely armed ethnic minorities. So, no, they weren’t.

    If I had to sit behind that desk in that neighborhood, I’d have enough things that go bang to take over a small country.

        • You don’t get to take whatever you want overseas to an Embassy. Many countries don’t even allow diplomats to bring guns in while they are accredited. It’s rare these days that the Chief of Mission would even allow a foreign service office to be armed anyway.

          The DSS agents accompanying the Ambassador were most certainly armed. They are foreign service specialists and do carry, usually with permission from the host nation police in such environments. And they most certainly fought back. Those details will come out eventually.

  18. NBC has a big update. This was indeed an organized assault, as it included an attack on the safehouse to which the people in the consulate retreated with highly accurate mortar fire and heavy weapons. Reasonable to suspect payback from former elements of Gaddafi regime or Islamic militants with prior battle experience. I suspect the former, at least initially, because the Talibs are not famous for the accuracy of their mortar fire. Two diplomats dead, one of smoke inhalation, the other by gunfire. US commandos ffrom a safehouse flew into Bengazhi airport to provide security, and they, along with elements of the government milkita, came under sustained fire and rpg assault. Two Marines dead, at least one by mortar. Others wounded, number unknown at this time. The pro-government milita provided security forces and transport out of the danger zone

    I am sure someone will come along shortly to claim responsibility.

  19. Warning: Just a gentle reminder that the first batch of information and narratives are usually wrong in reporting. Also remember that there are a bunch of folks involved in this story (on our side, like the WH, State dept etc, and the Libyan side) who are not above manipulating the facts a bit to their favor. If I could just close my eyes for 6 months I might then have a truer picture of what happened. But I for one ain’t trusting any story just yet. For example, in the middle of last nite I heard a report on the BBC that one of our diplomats was captured. Like in hostage. Then nothing this morning. Just wondering what that was about…wondering if there is some American lost in the Libyan mob crazies and now we are figuring out how to get him back.

    • There was some truth to that rumor, according to the NBC story. The Ambassador was separated from his security escort in the smoke and fire and was left behind initially. It took a concerted attack by American marines and Libyan militia to retake the consulate to get him out.

  20. I can’t believe all the administration comments I’ve seen that, in addition to condemning these attacks (as they should), apologize for the fact that Muslim’s got their “religious feelings” hurt. The POTUS doesn’t need to (and shouldn’t) apologize for every stupid thing every moron puts on YouTube.

    • The president didn’t. The diplomats–who had angry crowds surrounding them–did. This, I am pretty sure, was an attempt to calm the situation.

    • Wrong info. POTUS never said anything about “religious feelings hurt”.

      The news release in question was put out by an embarass in Cairo before the attacks.

      Mr. Romney, apparently has the monopoly on making ill-advised remarks about international situations since he’s already blaming the current administration to score some political points.

  21. I can tell you from experience the Embassy in Tel Aviv is very heavily guarded. Armed private guards and lots of USMC.
    It is funny since you wouldn’t think it would be a target, at least not like in Egypt or Libya.
    It seems odd that both these places didn’t take harder defensive stances when folks started coming over the walls. If my understanding is correct an embassy is technically foreign soil, so they were attacking the US. As such an armed response would have been appropriate.

    • Yes, an armed response is appropriate, but the risk is that killing people will trigger a full scale riot with armed combatants, i.e., only make a bad situation worse. Although I have no personal experience, it seems as if the practice is to allow the intrusion into the grounds but to fight off attacks on the embassy itself while the CIA “information officer” is destroying any sensitive documents and equipment.

      Yeah, it’s our soil, but we are still defending the Alamo against a superior force.

  22. Yet another reason why we shouldn’t be meddling in the affairs of other countries. If we had any politicians with brains and guts, we’d pull out of the Middle East entirely and vow to leave them alone as long as they leave us alone – and warn them that if they attack us in any way, we will burn the aggressor nation to the ground. Sure, some idiot country would launch an attack to call our bluff because they think we’re cowards, but after Iraqistan is turned into a smoldering crater, no one else would dare mess with us.

  23. Alright, after two days of scouring news photos, I don’t see any images that show obvious pock-marks on the walls of the buildings. Apparently none of the terrorists thought it was necessary to lay down cover fire while approaching the building. If our guys were armed, they weren’t shooting, or, if we were shooting, the terrorists weren’t shooting back.
    It’s possible that a gun battle took place inside the burning buildings, but I don’t see any bullet holes on the outside other than three fist-sized (possible) RPG holes on the guard shack. Somebody please prove me wrong. Please!!!
    It sure looks to me like we rolled over and took one up the a**.

  24. Even in case of a “consulate, not an embassy” one should ask the question why – in such a known hostile environment – it was not suitably protected!
    Obviously something went wrong with the (Dipolmatic) Security.
    It is surely wise to trust in diplomacy – but is also wise to have a certain backup.


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