Benghazi Consulate Lacks Marine Protection
According to a report the Benghazi Consulate where Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others were killed on Tuesday was an “interim” facility that did not have the same permanent Marine protection that permanent embassies receive:
The consulate where the American ambassador to Libya was killed on Tuesday is an “interim facility” not protected by the contingent of Marines that safeguards embassies, POLITICO has learned.
Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed with three other Americans in an attack on the U.S. consulate in the city of Benghazi, where Libyan rebels ousted strongman Moammar Qadhafi last year.
Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Kendra Motz said that Marines were not posted to the consulate, unlike the embassy in the capital, Tripoli.
A defense official told POLITICO on Wednesday that the Pentagon is sending an elite team of about 50 additional Marines, called a Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team, to reinforce the embassy.
A senior administration official Wednesday called the Benghazi consulate “an interim facility,” which the State Department began using “before the fall of Qadhafi.” It was staffed Tuesday by Libyan and State Department security officers. The consulate came under fire from heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades at about 10 p.m. local time on Tuesday. By the time the attack ended several hours later, four Americans were dead and three others had been injured.
The Benghazi consulate had “lock-and-key” security, not the same level of defenses as a formal embassy, an intelligence source told POLITICO. That means it had no bulletproof glass, reinforced doors or other features common to embassies. The intelligence source contrasted it with the American embassy in Cairo, Egypt – “a permanent facility, which is a lot easier to defend.” The Cairo embassy also was attacked Tuesday.
Not being at all versed in State Department security policies, I have no idea if this is a departure from the norm or not. Additionally, it’s not like there wasn’t security at the facility because we know that two of the people killed there were members of the Diplomatic Security Service and that Ambassador Stevens regularly traveled with his own security force. No doubt, there will be some who will question why security wasn’t beefed up for the September 11th anniversary, but from all accounts it seems as though the protests in Benghazi were fairly spontaneous and that there was little advance warning that the consulate would be in danger.