Maybe the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi Could Have Used a Bit More Protection


Ambassador Chris Stevens

Upon hearing that that the U.S. consulate in Benghazi had been stormed and Ambassador Chris Stevens and three embassy staffers killed, my wife, a normally restrained and sensible woman, immediately demanded that the United States bomb Libya. In response to my protests that we don't know who the hell to bomb, she "moderated" her preferred response to a massive invasion of the country, before eventually calming down. I suspect that I'm not the only person dealing with domestic demands for atrocities today, which leaves me wondering who left a U.S. ambassador in a chaotic, post-revolutionary country protected by a security screen too thin to protect him from a pissed-off mob.

I'm not the only person wondering this. According to CBS News:

According to [Libyan Interior Ministry official Wanis] al-Sharef, the angry mob stormed the consulate after the U.S. troops who responded fired rounds into the air to try and disperse the crowd. Al-Sharef said there had been threats that Islamic militants might try to take revenge for the death of al Qaeda's No. 2 commander Abu Yahya al-Libi, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan in June, and he said the U.S. consulate should have been better protected.

As much as I'm not a fan of military adventurism, it seems to me that the old cliche about a good defense being the best offense* is excellent advice — certainly better than what my wife and many other Americans are offering today, When seemingly humiliated officials of a shaky government that is, unsurprisingly, unable to protect your diplomatic representatives suggests that you probably should have done more to prepare for unpleasantness, it's likely that they're uttering kernels of truth.

By contrast to the Benghazi compound, the U.S. embassy in Cairo, which also came under attack with a better outcome, is described as a "fortress-like U.S. mission." Granted, the U.S. embassy to Libya is in Tripoli and the Benghazi consulate is a lesser facility, but Libya strikes me as the sort of place where any American presence should be "fortress-like."

A little more preparation, and maybe we wouldn't have to worry about what constitutes an appropriate response to the violence in Benghazi.

*Yeah, I kind of butchered the old saying. How about, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"?

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  1. After reading a few dozen HuffPo nincompoops blame the filmmaker for the violence caused by his movie, I feel it important to remind people that committing violence and killing people over something as small and petty as the movie in question… well, it’s their fault, not the fault of the filmmaker or his product.

    1. defending an intolerant terry jones or westboro is as difficult as defending intolerant islamists

      1. You just didn’t get the point at all, did you?

        1. It’s urine, don’t waste your time trying to explain.

          1. It’s fun watching his kind stand up for the barbarians, though.

            1. “my kind” doesnt disturb bears when camping

                1. Humans are not bears, dumbshit.

              1. If I saw some bears camping, I’d have to get some pictures, though.

                1. Just watch your picnic basket.

      2. Just as difficult as defending Nazis who march in a Jewish township, right?

      3. Terry Jones didn’t make the film.

  2. We probably won’t be firing warning shots anymore…

    1. I think you over estimate the sack of our President.

      1. The fact that there aren’t B2s over Libya right now is sufficient evidence for that.

    2. Here is a trailer of the offending movie:

      From the comments:
      “the muslim world got trolled by a d-rate youtube clip..good? job scrubs.”

  3. Maybe the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi Could Have Used a Bit More Protection

    Maybe if they weren’t banging hookers… oh wait. Maybe I should rtfa.

  4. A little more preparation,

    Yeah. Flamethrowers. Mounted on the walls. Tested weekly, pour encourager les autres.

    1. If the New-York Tribune could protect itself from the draft riots with Gatling guns….

      1. Seriously. A few M-2 turrets strategically located within the walls along with orders to open fire on anyone that climbs on top of or over the walls, or breaches a secure gate, would put these violent protests down in no time.

        1. I’m partial to flamethrowers because they are terrifying. Hence, the weekly tests. I’d rather deter than retaliate.

          1. Fine but with all respect, fuck that. A fusilade of .50 caliber rounds until the ground is littered with bodies. That’s deterrence.

            1. Boys, boys, boys… why not both?

          2. True.

            Can they be fueled with pork fat blend, BTW?

  5. A little more preparation, and maybe we wouldn’t have to worry about what constitutes an appropriate response to the violence in Benghazi.

    You know, if Brandon Weeden hadn’t thrown so many interceptions Sunday, the Browns may have beaten the Eagles. He should have known not to do that.

    1. how many losses till colt mccoy?

    2. It won’t be long before they realize it wasn’t McCoy who made them suck.

      1. seems personal like mccoy slept w somebody’s wife

  6. “…the old cliche about a good defense being the best offense…”

    Something not quite right…

  7. Wait, what? An ambassador got killed? Isn’t that a de facto act of war?

    I should note that bureaucrats getting killed doesn’t fill me with massive levels of anger or remorse.

    1. I’m not sure, but I think there’s some question about whether the Libyan government had any involvement in this.

      Quite a coincidence, this and Egypt.

      1. If a foreign embassy got raided and had members killed by American citizens, our government would be shitting itself apologizing and trying to prevent an international incident.

        1. I think you’re onto something…

        2. Agreed. I do think just waiting for more trouble would be the height of folly.

      2. If the Libyan government took no action, and takes no action, to hunt down and kill those who WERE involved, immediately, then its involvement is sufficient.

        Would the US stand by while some “militants” killed the ambassador to China, and then just expect to say, “We weren’t involved!”?

        Goose, gander

    2. it’s only an act of war when this sort of thing happens under the war-mongering Team Red. When Blue is in charge, we must understand the motivation of the assailants. Hillary, to her credit, looked pissed in her remarks, like she was ready to spit nails. Obama acted pretty much like the deaths occurred in a traffic accident.

      1. Obama was just thinking, “Wow, I thought I had the country snowed, again, now this?”

        1. If only things would stop happening, huh?

        2. He was thinking, “Didn’t I just help topple Qaddafi? Why aren’t these people my friends?”

  8. “I should note that bureaucrats getting killed doesn’t fill me with massive levels of anger or remorse.”…..e-streets/

      1. Do you have a fucking point?

        1. I’m reading now that those were people trying to get him to a hospital, in any case.

    1. I don’t sign on to that at all. We have diplomatic relationships with these countries, and these guys are there dealing with a crappy situation. They may be political scum, but I’m not happy when they’re attacked or killed.

      1. They signed up for this and knew the political and security situations. If you are willing to be an ambassador in a volatile country without an appropriate Marine contingent, you takes your chances.

        1. Sure, but it doesn’t mean I’m indifferent to them getting attacked. Or killed.

          1. Then there are two options. Retaliation–and retaliation that makes a point, that means something–or forgiving the Libyan government because it wasn’t them specifically, meaning doing nothing other than maybe putting a hit out on the specific people involved.

            Either way, there will be killing. As usual.

            1. Stop aid, leave the embassy, and tell them that’s the new state of affairs until the attackers are apprehended and handed over.

              1. Economic sanctions have never worked as a substitute for war.

                1. What substitute? I’m not suggesting war or a war substitute. Nor an embargo. Just a cessation of aid and a suspension of our diplomatic presence until they comply. We’re totally the victims here, not the ones violating international law. Not this time.

        2. this is not like joining the armed forces. Guys like the ambassador are not trained operatives expecting to be fired on. We’ve stationed folks in volatile places as long as there has been a diplomatic corps, but death is not seen as risk of the job.

          1. Not at all?

            1. when? Countries don’t attack each others’ embassies and consulates. It’s bad form. Even the folks taken hostage in Iran were kept alive. Killing diplomats leads to worse shit.

              1. Countries don’t attack each others’ embassies and consulates

                You mean “aren’t supposed to”, I’m sure.

                Killing diplomats leads to worse shit.

                We’ll know for sure over the next couple days, won’t we. I for one don’t see any “worse shit” coming out of this particular incident.

              2. The reason that countries don’t attack each others’ diplomats is that they expect to be bombed back to the stone age, if they do it.

                If we show them that there is nothing to worry about, then we can expect more of this.

                A very significant line has been crossed. If we take no action, we merely show that we are, in Osama Bin Laden’s words, a “paper tiger.”

        3. “…without an appropriate Marine contingent, you takes(sic) your chances.”

          And what would be the appropriate Marine contingent? What level of familiarity with the security of an embassy does an American diplomat need to have before we can be perturbed about them being suffocated and dragged through the street?

          1. Look, Tulpa, I know it chaps your ass when I don’t cry sufficiently for politicians and bureaucrats. Suck it, ass-kisser. If the bureaucrat didn’t want to die, maybe he shouldn’t have taken a position in a dangerous country with shitty security.

            Oh noes, are you going to shit your pants now?

            1. “If the bureaucrat didn’t want to die, maybe he shouldn’t have taken a position in a dangerous country with shitty security.”

              And if a drunk runs over your stupid ass you should have known better than to walk close to the street, fuckhead.

              1. What a completely idiotic analogy, Tulpa! You’re being as stupid as I expected. Thank you for that, it’s making my morning.

                Oh noes, are you going to shit your pants more now?

                1. Epi, why do you turn into an asshole-for-the-sake-of-being-an-asshole any time someone is killed? It adds nothing to the discussion, and makes you look like a moron.

            2. when this becomes acceptable for how diplomats are treated, far more has been lost than ideology:


              1. If we do not take decisive military action, then we signal that this is now acceptable.

                Sucks to be in that position, but denial doesn’t change it.

            3. Episiarch, the last time an American Ambassador was killed in the line of duty was 1979, despite all of the crazy things that have happened in the world in the last 33 years. Ambassadors even to such awful places as Pakistan, Syria, and Nigeria have been untouched. This is a BFD, not some mere bureaucrat being killed. It is either an act of war or a sign that Libya has no legitimate government (or more likely both). This is the sort of thing that, a century ago, would have resulted in a major war with tens of thousands dead.

              1. Or 98 years ago, about 20,000,000.

                I don’t advocate repeating WW I. That’s why I don’t think these things should be allowed to be dragged out. If we’re going to fight protracted, destructive, seemingly-pointless slaughter wars, then the US doesn’t need all the expensive weapons and other systems that we all pay for.

              2. And probably will now, unfortunately.

              3. The picture wareagle linked to sure looks a lot like Ambassador Stevens.

                This is serious shit. And frankly inexplicable. Did those fucking idiots in Libya not see what it’s like when the U.S. invades? You only make money if you’re the people we install over the old government, not if you are the old government. It’s not like we haven’t given enough examples over the last decade.

                Do we have a pet Libyan stashed somewhere to act as puppet? Because I think this Libyan government, if all the preceding rumors are true—the Libyan security forces pointed out where the ambassador had moved to, made no attempt to stop the militants, etc…—has just about outlived its usefulness.

            4. That is what I say when the police kill someone in a wrong door raid. You decided to live in a city with a terrible police force. You should have had your gun drawn when you heard the knock.

              Nothing like blaming the victim.

    2. Foreign relations is one of the few legitimate functions of the federal government. These people were doing a legitimate job, and did not deserve this bullshit. It’s not like this was a DEA agent fucking with somebody he shouldn’t have fucked with; it’s not even debatable that this was a fucking travesty.

  9. Egypt is, in my mind, shaping up to be a repeat of the Iranian revolution.

    In both cases, there was an oppressive regime that brutalized the population and was dependent on the U.S. for military/covert aid to stay in power.

    In both cases a broadly popular revolution was coopted by religious political movements that were just as (if not more) violent, who then reused the existing apparatus of oppression to help them stay in power.

    At this point, the U.S. needs to either put a huge combat force in the embassy or get its people out, because this take-over was a dry-run for hostage taking.

    1. Since we have near-total air supremacy, I suggest we place our embassies on giant, heavily defended blimps, hovering over the city.

      1. Where “the city” == “New York” or something.

        1. I was thinking of turning Manhattan into a prison of some sort.

      2. How was BioShock 2, by the way? Worth getting?

        1. That’s going to be Bioshock Infinite, GG.

          BS2 is good–set in Rapture 10 years later. Picking it up cheap at this point is worth it.

          1. My bad; just playing off of ProL’s blimp suggestion.

            I haven’t even played Bioshock 1, much less 2. I’ll check them out.

            1. Smooth controls, great writing, interesting guns and enemies. It’s a fun time.

            2. Just remember, telekinesis is your friend

            3. BS1 is flat out brilliant. The story line is among the best written in video game land, the user controls are stable well-executed. I’ll bet you a coke you love it. BS2 is very good too, though not quite the big deal BS1 is.

    2. slight difference between Iran and Egypt: the US was, at least rhetorically, an active participant in the Egyptian result. Not so in Iran.

      1. And look how much good its done us.

        1. About as much good as helping the Afghani mujahedeen against the USSR.

  10. They brought RPGs. It wasn’t a mob, in as much as it was a full-blown assault by irregulars. Sure, you can defend against that, if you’ve a military base, with multiple layers of defense, machine gun bunkers, clear fields of fire, etc… But that doesn’t sound like an embassy, does it? Doesn’t the Vienna Convention limit just how much force a country can stick in its embassy, and still call it an embassy?

    What would Tuccille have wanted garrisoned there? A company of Marines?

    1. I think it depends on the embassy, doesn’t it? Maybe not in London or Paris, but in the wild the embassies should be heavily armed and armored, if they aren’t already.

      1. Especially in the literal wild. Failed states can’t be trusted to keep the crazies in check even if they’re a sincere ally, much less when they’re backstabbing shits like the Pakistanis.

    2. What would Tuccille have wanted garrisoned there? A company of Marines?

      At the very least. With enough fire power to kill anyone who attacks.

      1. All the Vienna Convention for Consular Relations says about the size or composition of the consular staff is that the receiving State may ask that the staff be kept within limits that are reasonable or normal, given the circumstances. (Article 20)

        So, maybe it is reasonable or normal for the U.S. to have their embassy be a de facto military base. Seemed to be the case in Iraq. Of course, we then couldn’t claim that we didn’t have “boots on the ground” in Libya.

        1. As I note below, consulates do not have the same status as embassies.

          Embassies are sovereign territory of their home country and as such are entitled to have their own military protection.

          Consulates are essentially business offices the home government maintains in the host country with only limited diplomatic immunity.

          They must generally rely on the goodwill of the host government for protection and security though like all property owners they may hire their own security personnel subject to the laws of the host country.

          1. “Embassies are sovereign territory of their home country”

            “While an embassy remains the territory of the host state, under international rules representatives of the host country may not enter an embassy without permission”


            1. I think you misinterpreted Isaac. The embassy of Japan is soverign territory of Japan, even in the host country of Chile. So in the statement, Embassies are sovereign territory of their home country”, home means the home country the embassy represents and NOT the host country where it is located.

  11. “The congressionally chartered Commission on Wartime Contracting issued a strong warning in 2009, saying the State Department’s reliance on lowest priced security contractors was jeopardizing security.”


  12. “Well, he should have armed himself, if he’s going to decorate his internet with my prophet.”

  13. I’ve never visited the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, but judging from the photos, the place is pretty indefensible. A relatively small building in a tight neighborhood. State Department Security or Marines could kill a bunch of people before being overrun – but they could never have prevented the place from being burned down without a massive slaughter.

    As an old Marine, I would plan to defend the place with a “get the fuck out fast” strategy. The failure was not getting out fast enough.

    1. Early reports are that they were planning a retreat to another location when the RPGs started up.

      1. My plan also wouldn’t have included the Ambassador leading the evacuation in person. WTF was he thinking?

    2. If a massive slaughter is what it takes to keep the place from being burned down, so be it.

      1. Yeah, no shit.

        Well, we could have pushed Saddam’s troops back out of Kuwait, but that would have required a massive slaughter…

        I’m sure you know where this is going.

        1. Remember when a Blackwater team protected their principal that way? It was a big international stink.

          The State Department tries to avoid that stuff.

          Stevens was brave but very stupid to show up at that consulate.

  14. Ambassadors are useful idiots. You would never persuade me in to one of those prisons.

    1. We need them, though.

      If we want to have any relationship with foreign countries, other than war, ambassadors are necessary.

      1. You know, for once I think Obama has the right idea, but poorly executed. Let’s let the career guys with expert knowledge of IR to work with the civilized nations. Send the bundlers to Libya and Egypt and barbarian lands. There’s no shortage of ambitious, corrupt graft-seeking assholes to replace them with.

  15. The people who committed these killings are murderers, and should be treated as such. As a practical matter, I don’t see how the U.S. government can do much of anything about it. Declare war? On whom?

    I know that it’s pointless to argue about whether the U.S. government should be intervening in the Middle East; they’re going to do it, regardless of which party is in charge in D.C. If they are going to do it they should certainly be prepared for the inevitable blowback.

    And no, I’m not saying that the blowback is always justified. I’m saying that it is going to happen and it’s dumb to pretend otherwise.

    1. If a country insists on allowing attacks like this to happen and fails to vigorously enforce their laws, then the government (and by extension the people, can be considered to be accomplices or accesories in those crimes and as such are most certainly legitimate targets for a declaration of hostilities.

      On the other hand, it should be kept in mind that a declaration of war should be a last resort and should only be considered after all diplomatic avenues are closed.

      In this case the Libyan government has denounced the rioters and killers and apologised and expressed condolences.

      They have the next few weeks to demonstate the sincerity of those statements with appropriate action.

      1. “a declaration of war should be a last resort and should only be considered after all diplomatic avenues are closed”

        Uh, I think that this particular attack was aimed specifically at closing diplomatic avenues ASAP.

      2. And “apologized?” “Denounced?”

        Talk is cheap.

        “They and their compadres will be dead by next Tuesday” might start a meaningful dialogue. Anyone can say that they’re sorry.

        1. Hence my last sentence.

          And, FWIW, stories I have read since last posting indicate the possibility of complicity by local military personnel.

          If that’s the case the Libyan government is going to have to go a long way to getting this resolved.

          It will be interesting to see if this administration has the necessary resolve.

      3. That’s fine in general, but if it is decided that the Libyan government isn’t sincere enough, then what? What specifically should the U.S. government do? Send the Marines to the shores of Tripoli to overthrow the Libyan government? And replace it with…what?

        If they go that route they had better be ready for the shit to hit the fan.

        1. As I have tried to make plain on Afghanistan threads, I am an advocate of punitive measures.

          At a minimum, regardless of the Libyan governments response and/or assurances, the US should immediately close all of its consulates in Libya (I’m not sure if there are any others besides Triopli, at the embassy and Benghazi, now destroyed) and reduce its embassy to a skeleton staff (while increasing the Marine force there).

          I don’t think that moving a carrier group and/or an Amphibious Readiness Group to that part of the Med would be inappropriate either. It may come in handy if things get worse and a mass evacuation of US citizens is needed.

          If the show of force and negotiations fail to produce a suitable outcome then I would propose cutting all diplomatic and commercial ties with Libya. Which would put us pretty much back where we were before Khadaffi was overthrown.

          Of course a few months ago we bombed the shit out of the country because they were our friends. Next time we’ll bomb them because they’re not.

  16. The reason a Consulate is not defended the same way as an Embassy is that a Consulate does not have the same status as an Embassy.

    Embassies and their grounds are sovereign territory of the country in question and the Ambassador is a representative of the government of his country to the government of the host country. As such most of what he deals with a intergovernmental negotiations. As sovereign territory the country that owns it is entitled to maintain a military force to protect it.

    A Consulate, on the other hand is essentially a business office that handles and facilitates dealings between individuals and the governement of the US (immigration for no-residents, passport and other issues for citizens and residents) and between individuals in that country and individuals in the US (certain business and trade issues). They do not have the same diplomatic status as an Embassy, they are often in rented quarters but even if the property is owned by the government it has no different status than any other business. In order to maintain consulates the government must rely on the good faith of the host government to provide police and other protection.

    While the Consul-General and Vice-Consuls are considered diplomats, diplomatic immunity they are afforded falls far short of that given to Ambassadors etc.

    1. “Embassies and their grounds are sovereign territory of the country in question”

      “While an embassy remains the territory of the host state, under international rules representatives of the host country may not enter an embassy without permission”…..170537.htm

      “As sovereign territory the country that owns it is entitled to maintain a military force to protect it.”

      Putin will be surprised to know there is sovereign U.S. territory in Moscow, except that it’s just not true. We are also not “entitled” to station the 71st Airborne in the U.S. embassy in Moscow to protect it.

      1. OK, the sovereign territory is not prcisely correct.

        But I only stated that “it is entitled to maintain a military force to protect it”, I did not say their were no limits on the size or type of force.

        Semantic nitpicks aside, my statement as to the essential differences between the status and mandate of embassies vs consulates stands.

      2. And furthermore, representatives of the host country may enter a consulate without permission, but in general only to conduct normal business.

    2. That’s true, Isaac, but isn’t there a limit to the size of the protecting military force? A few Marines are one thing; a company is entirely another. (For one thing, where are you going to park all the LAVs?)

      Per Drake above, it doesn’t sound like their location was all that large (or defensible) anyway. Most embassies don’t have to be a duplicate of the Green Zone.

      Thank you though for the clarification. I was always a little hazy on the differences between the two.

      1. Embassies are usually locked down pretty tight with access to the general public severely restricted, especially in countries with a bad record. That is except for the Consular office which is usually accessed through a separate entrance.

        That is because the embassy is there for the convenience of the two governments while the consulate is their for individuals to facillitate their dealings with the US government and/or businesses or institution or individuals in the US. As a business/commercial office they feel under an obligation to make access as free and open as security allows.

        And yes, there is, AFAIK, a limit on the size of the force and the type of arms allowed. This is established, IIANM, both by treaties already in effect and by individual agreements between the two counties.

        Incidentally, most of the business conducted by consulates is so mundane that many countries, some of them quite large (eg Germany has both formal Consulates and honorary consuls in the US), have honorary consuls either alone or in combination with formal consulates.

        1. Just as an aside, though other’s experiences may differ, I have observed that for most immigrants I know the most pleasant part of their processing experience was initially submitting their documents and dealing with the consular staff where they first applied.

          It was only when their documents started being processed by ICE (formerly INS) that the experience became a clusterfuck.

  17. “Diplomatic immunity!”


    “…Has just been revoked.”

  18. At least your wife isn’t calling for criminal penalties for making You Tube videos that might offend someone, as a Boston Globe columnist did today:…..story.html

    But shouldn’t people who knowingly incite violence against the United States ? as a crude, thinly-veiled publicity stunt – also be held accountable?

    1. I like her little throat-clearing before that paragraph.

      Just to be clear, the blame for Chris’s death rests squarely with the mob who attacked our embassy. Their actions are despicable, and perhaps were incited by long-standing enemies of the United States. Muslims who are angry at how their religion has been portrayed must stop responding in violent ways that perpetrate the idea of Islam as a dangerous faith.

      Now, we all know that X is true. And it is. But, with that said, X is false!

    2. “But shouldn’t people who knowingly incite violence against the United States ? as a crude, thinly-veiled publicity stunt – also be held accountable?”

      No. Next?

      1. Also, I didn’t expect Tulpa to be a chick.

    3. Does she also think that women who wear enticing clothing should share some accountability for getting raped? If they had just put on the fucking burka, they wouldn’t have to waste the time of the police and courts.

  19. Jokes aside, this is well beyond the pale. If Obama tolerates this, he’s even more of a worm than I thought.

    1. If Obama tolerates this, he’s even more of a worm than I thought.

      If? You’ve already overestimated him.

  20. The reality is that the weak Libyan government effectively controls only a few square miles of territory, from what I’ve read. They have no means to bring the killers to justice. If there is any response, it will have to come from U.S. forces.

    Obviously, the security should have been greater, or the very idea of having a consulate in such a lawless zone should have been rethought.

    1. Judging by some discussion groups frequented by liberals, my impression is that a lot of them won’t give any response, if it must solely come from U.S. forces. They’ll accept whatever bullshit excuse the present Libyan government comes up with and deal with it.

      This is not exactly new, on either side of the political aisle.

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