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Every foreign service employee that has served in a third world country knew exactly what the risks were before they arrived.  I served as a US Marine Security Guard at US embassies and I can guarantee you that when there are 20 Americans alone in small embassy in the heart of Africa, you are keenly aware that there is no US Sixth Fleet that will come to your rescue if the country takes a sudden turn against you.  

Every American there knows that at any moment, their entire life can be at risk with no warning.  That includes not just the Marines, but every diplomat, economic officer, consulate official, and computer geek.  

Contrary to the disgruntled Republicans who are desperately seeking a scandal, there simply is nothing there but a tragedy to exploit.  This is the nature of foreign service; this is nothing new; it has been like this for decades.

News Flash #1: Benghazi was a small, remote consulate outpost.  These small outposts rarely, if ever, get a US Marine security guard detachment.  The host country owns exterior security (as it does with our embassies) and a contract security force would handle interior security.  There were no platoons of Marines available to come to their rescue at a moments notice.  This is absolutely no different than the majority of our embassies around the world.

Seriously, do people really think that the Marines at the Tripoli embassy would leave their post on a fool's errand to rescue someone hundreds of miles into the desert who essentially made a really bad decision?  

News Flash #2: US Marine Security Guards are not posted overseas to be the personal body guards of the US Ambassador.  The primary mission is to protect the embassy and the classified material within it.  Ironically, protecting individuals is a secondary mission.  If Marine Guards assigned to protect the US Embassy abandoned their posts to chase the US Ambassador around in the desert, then who do you think is guarding the embassy?  

The US Ambassador knew the risks involved in the Benghazi area.  He took a chance and unfortunately the timing was bad and he was caught up something that was truly tragic. He was murdered.  

News Flash #3: The right-wing echo chamber refers to the Navy Seals being refused military assistance as though it was the sequel to Black Hawk Down.  The reality is that they were FORMER Navy Seals who were essentially private guns for hire.  They were making large sums of money, as many of them do, working for the newly privatized para-military force for hire that is the residue of the outsourced Iraqi war.  

Yes, it is unfortunate that they died and they were heroic in their defense of the ambassador and the consulate; however, they were not active duty navy seals calling in for air support and having their request denied.

News Flash #4: Classified security threats and reports pour into the embassy every single day. So to scream, "Even after they were warned..." —well, that applies to every embassy in the world.  If anything, you become numb to the threats because they are never-ending.  If you allowed yourself to be paralyzed in fear as a result of the warnings, you would never leave the embassy.  After a while, you simple keep it in the back of your head and go about your daily business.  

Most likely, this is what led the ambassador to make the tragic trip to Benghazi. This is simply the risk that all foreign service diplomats take every day of their lives.  In many ways, they are just as brave and heroic as the US Marines that protect the embassy.

The bottom line is that although this whole incident is tragic, I simply can not get even remotely excited about this Fox News driven scandal.  This is the type of thing that simply happens.  Of course, I also can't take it seriously from a bunch of chicken-hawk war mongers who gave President Bush and Condi Rice a pass after they ignored years of warnings regarding terrorist plans to slam planes into skyscrapers:

"Had I know that the enemy was going to use airplanes to kill on that fateful morning, I would have done everything in my power to protect the American people," ~President Bush
"I don't think anybody could have predicted that ... they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile," National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said.
"Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al Qaeda's Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House," the September 1999 report said.
This made for Fox News TV imaginary scandal is merely a fishing expedition looking for ANY reason they can to propogate a reason for impeachment.  After all the testimony will be endless requests for depositions and document dumps.  I certainly hope that after this week's round of testimony, President Obama simply exerts executive privilege and treats this with the disdain that it deserves.
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Comment Preferences

  •  This whole gop/right wing hysteria about (10+ / 0-)

    Benghazi started with Karl Rove.
    It will end will Karl Rove.
    This will not end well for the gop.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 07:09:13 PM PST

  •  You are obviously a very knowledgeable source on (5+ / 0-)

    this, but I don't think there is any place for a defense of the killings of government workers that goes anywhere near, "Shit happens." This is an unmitigated tragedy no matter what way you look at it, and it was by any measure a very big failure by our government. It should be treated as such and investigated as such. The families of the dead deserve that, and they deserve to see the right people held responsible.

    •  Yes but (10+ / 0-)

      Even the family members of victims -- Stevens and one of the Seals -- asked that the tragedy NOT be politicized. That's what's wrong here. Politicians exploiting tragedy for political gain. This type of tragedy could have happened under any President. It's a tragedy for the nation -- not a tool for political attack.

      The civil rights, gay rights and women's movements, designed to allow others to reach for power previously grasped only by white men, have made a real difference, and the outlines of 21st century America have emerged. -- Paul West of LA Times

      by LiberalLady on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 07:18:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Justice is happening.... that's what matters (9+ / 0-)

      As President Obama promised, justice will occur.  Members of the group that committed the attack have been arrested in Egypt and Tunisia.  Chances are, others have simply met an unfortunate fate.

      I think a proportional response to this is required, not a "the sky is falling" watergate type of fishing expedition posing as an investigation.

      Seriously, do you really think it matters in the grand scheme of things whether or not they attacked the consulate because of the video or not?  Would it matter if they were smoking ganja and one guy said, "let's grab our guns and attack the consulate!"  No matter what, it was a terrorist attack.  The outcome is set.  

      Lastly, the families of foreign service workers are also keenly aware of the risks that their loved ones endure.  

      •  I dont' disagree with anything in this comment (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rich in PA

        except the part about the families. As if it hurts less because they know. Again - I don't think there is any place for that kind of thing when responding to the horrible politicization of this by Republicans. "Yeah, it's a dangerous job" wasn't appropriate for the firefighters who ran up the Towers - and it's not appropriate for this.

        •  "Hurts less" that what? (0+ / 0-)

          Losing your spouse/parent/child on a battlefield? Losing a loved one to cancer? To your basic traffic accident? Nobody's saying losing a loved one is any easier in a dangerous job than in a cushy one. Shit happens. It hurts no more or less than any other circumstance of loss.

    •  On what basis do you know (9+ / 0-)

      that what happened at Benghazi "...was by any measure a very big failure by our government"?

      This is an unmitigated tragedy no matter what way you look at it, and it was by any measure a very big failure by our government. It should be treated as such and investigated as such.
      From what I am reading - which I seriously expect is but a fraction of the information available - the matter is being strenuously investigated by multiple US government entities.  The facts will be out on this, and then one will be able to make a decision as to whether there were failures, at what level they occurred, and what changes are necessary to prevent similar incidents in the future.

      So maybe it would be prudent to await the results of those investigations before declaring "a very big failure."

      I am a warrior for peace. And not a gentle man... Steve Mason, 1940-2005

      by Wayward Wind on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 07:28:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It hasn't been shown that this was a failure (9+ / 0-)

      That something goes wrong does not always mean a failure, if by "failure" you mean actions or decisions that a reasonably competent person would not normally have done.

      Foreign service is risky. As the diarist notes, supplying security for these outposts is not a cut-and-dried decision. One must also factor in the availability of personnel, the possible affect on relations with, and the stability of, the host government, and who-knows-what other factors.

      When we acknowledge that there is risk, then we also acknowledge is the possibility of things going wrong. That is the nature of risk. It is possible that no "bad" decisions were made here. It is possible that there was a roll of the dice that turned out badly; yet that does not mean that it was wrong to roll those dice at that time. Sometimes -- no, often -- the President's job is to roll the dice.

      Mind you, I'm not really arguing the question either way. I'm just saying, it's way too soon to say that this represents a failure. It may never be possible to make that determination, at least in the public sphere.

      Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

      by Nowhere Man on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 07:29:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  When foreign service workers are brutally murdered (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rich in PA

        and people say, "We don't know if there was a failure!" I want to kill a thousand kittens.

        What the Fuck are yo undoing? Does a government have a job to do in regards to its employees? Is one of those jobs protecting those employees? This is just astonishing.

        •  That should be "What the fuck are you doing?" nt (0+ / 0-)
          •  Well, the comment is undoing a lot. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Little

            You know, the notion that our government should protect its employees, that kind of thing.

            You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

            by Rich in PA on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 03:57:53 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  If dichotomies are your thing... (8+ / 0-)

          If you can't see this situation in anything but black-and-white terms, then we're not really able to discuss this.

          Most words don't have a single meaning. Most words have multiple meanings. I can't help hearing "failure", in this context, as meaning much the same thing as "mistake", i.e., a demonstrated (if temporary) lack of competence. If that's not what you mean, then there's no need for us to discuss this.

          But otherwise...

          Your question can be paralleled in a number of different contexts. The parallels are stronger in some cases, weaker in others, but they exist and are real:

          - It's the job of NHTSA to keep our roads safe, yet 50,000 people are killed in automobile accidents every year. Is NHTSA failing at its job?

          - Except in rare (or criminal) cases, an army will try not to lose any soldiers in battle, yet soldiers are frequently lost in battle. Does every soldier's death represent a failure?

          - It's the job of the police to keep people safe from criminal activity. Yet people are killed in robberies daily. Does every such death represent a failure of the police to do their job?

          In all of these cases, the responsible party has to do a reasonable job of protecting their charges, where the meaning of reasonable is both fuzzy and context-dependent. It's not clear to me that the Obama Administration failed to do a reasonable job of protecting the embassy staff in this case -- especially given that it was, from what I understand, Ambassador Stevens's choice to go to Benghazi at that time, with the security arrangements (or lack thereof) fully known to him.

          Do you know anything that shows otherwise?

          Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

          by Nowhere Man on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 08:06:31 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Dangerous Jobs have Risks (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kurt, Egalitare, Joieau, Nowhere Man

          Policeman, fireman, correctional officers and many other workers lose their lives in the line of duty way too often. Is there a government failure when that happens?  There was a policeman that perished saving children during Hurricane Sandy was the government responsible? Sometimes it is but other times bad things happen to good people.  

          I worked in corrections and I remember a correctional officer was killed in the line of duty because he did not follow the protocol and opened a cell to give an inmate some of his lunch in violation of policy.  His death was tragic however the government did have policy in place that if followed would have possibly prevented his death.

          The republicans are trying their best to politicize a tragedy for an advantage.  When briefings occur on Benghazi and McCain and other republicans miss the briefing to hold a news conference and go about other routine business then complain about not having information; their actions are transparent to a thinking person.

    •  Big failure? (0+ / 0-)

      By what measure? The consulate was attacked and people were killed. A tragedy yes but a failure? When someone gets murdered walking down the street in Chicago gets murdered is that a "big failure" on the part of the US Government? What's the difference?

      "Good to be here, good to be anywhere."~Keith Richards

      by bradreiman on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 09:04:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you for that, Little (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Little

      I am disgusted by the suggestion that what happened in Benghazi was anything other than a failure by our government.  That Republicans in their infinite cruelty and stupidity are incapable of understanding an operational failure as anything less that the Collapse of Our Republic is their problem, not something we should combat by saying it's No Problem at All.  

      You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

      by Rich in PA on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 03:56:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've been wondering about something, and maybe you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt

    can tell me. (I write fiction. That's why I'm asking.)
    The Ambassador stayed at the consulate locked in a small room there where he suffocated. Why did he stay? Would there be things in a consulate that he'd be trying to protect? Things he'd want to destroy first, before anyone found them?
    Because it sounded like there was time for him to go. He sent the others away to the CIA safe house, but he stayed, right?

    Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

    by teresahill on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 07:38:46 PM PST

    •  Answer is simple: we protect things of value (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DianeNYS, kurt, Egalitare

      If there was anything worthy of protection, it would be at the embassy where it could be protected 24/7 by US Marines.  There are rules regulating this.

      Are these rules always followed?  Probably not...  so who knows if there was something in the consulate that he was willing to give his life for.

      Without further details, trying to figure out why he made the decision to stay (if that really was a decision) is most likely speculation.  It could have been as simple as he missed the very narrow window to escape.  Perhaps he thought is would not be a sustained attack and the host country would own their responsibility to protect the embassy exterior.  There are times when that assumption is wrong.  See Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan, and now, Benghazi

  •  Finally a straight (4+ / 0-)

    forward reasoning of what took place and the realities of the situation. Very well written and hopefully the end of Benghazi.

    •  I second and third your comment (0+ / 0-)

      There are risks in life and being in Libya especially after a civil war was a huge risk. I think we all know that damn near everybody is heavily armed. If we or the Saudi's or Kuwait didn't arm these various groups then they had ample opportunity to take arms from the former gov't's stockpiles. And really, how much time would it take to put out a call to thirty or a hundred armed men in your whatever militia in a densely populated area such as Benghazi. This didn't have to be preplanned at all, it could have been a crime of opportunity.

  •  Anyone paying attention at all knew the risks... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DianeNYS, Tfill, kurt, Egalitare

    involved for foreigners in Libya.  As the Guardian reported in June, 2012: and increased bloody lawlessness in Libya is now a real possibility...

    ...The security situation has deteriorated rapidly over the past two weeks. On Tuesday, it was the turn of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Misrata to come under attack. On Monday, the British ambassador's convoy in Benghazi was hit, with two bodyguards injured in the ensuing gun battle. Last week there was an attack on the US diplomatic mission in the same city.

    Apart from terror attacks such as these, Libyans are fighting each other. Militiamen act with impunity, as the recent seizure of Tripoli airport showed, while clashes continue in the southern town of Kufra, where pro-government militiamen are locked in an armed conflict with tribal forces over smuggling routes. The clashes have so far claimed at least 20 lives...

    While apparently republican politicians were oblivious, the diplomatic community in Libya--and the countries they represented--had to be well aware that they were in a volatile and risky situation--and they are also aware that this sometimes comes with the territory of doing the kind of work they do.  

    Also, according to U.S. intelligence officials...the two former Navy SEALs killed that night...were employed by the CIA.

    Whatever the mission in Benghazi happened to be, there are diplomatic missions and there are covert missions. Governments don't usually give details of the former, and they don't usually acknowledge the latter.

    ...The vast majority of the agency's (CIA's) overseas officers are under what is known as "official cover," which means they are posing as employees of another government agency. The State Department allows hundreds of its positions in embassies around the world to be occupied by CIA officers representing themselves as diplomats...
    Republicans trying to score political points by demanding public airing of details, when they don't know if those details could possibly endanger national security, the diplomatic mission, and/or people's lives is totally irresponsible and reprehensible, IMHO.
  •  Thank you for your professional observations. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt

    Although I have no personal experience in overseas security, I've been telling my rethug friends the facts your in-person experience has taught you. We can only hope that the hard facts you point out will find their way to the main stream press.

  •  Yeah, same for coal mining. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Little

    This is so not a winning argument.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 03:58:55 AM PST

  •  There are currently 236 names on (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Penthesilea

    the Memorial Plaques in the Truman Building.  That (at least)  four more will be added at the next ceremony in May is tragic.  But, it is part of the risk that the Foreign Service accepts.

    During the first day of my orientation as a Foreign Service Officer in 1984, we were taken to view the plaques.  It was a moment that made a great impression on me, and, I am sure, all of my colleagues.  We mourn for those who have been lost, but, we carry on with the work with which we have been tasked.

    Ultimately, the only thing that matters with respect to preserving choice is who will be nominating the next Supreme Court Justices.

    by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 07:23:14 AM PST

  •  Dana Rohrabacher (R-ass) was schooled by a Dem at (0+ / 0-)

    the hearings. The repigs chose not to fund more security for the embassies and consulates. They can't have it both ways.

    Besides, the consulate appears to be an open campus and was the US outreach center of the area. Do we wall it and razor-wire it? Hospitable!

    I ♥ President Obama. ~ Yes, we did. Again.
    NOW: Hands off SocSec, Medicare and Medicaid. NO Grand Bargain.
    Rich pay a bit more. DoD take a bit less. End war on Afghanistan sooner.

    by OleHippieChick on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 08:55:45 AM PST

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