U.S. Defends Security at Consulate, Though It Lacked Marine Guards
Waterman, Shaun, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Byline: Shaun Waterman, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Administration officials defended the security measures at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi when a riotous mob and suspected Muslim militants killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, although a State Department source said it lacked the Marine guards common at larger diplomatic missions.
The senior administration official said a force of locally contracted Libyan guards was stationed outside the compound, as is standard practice, and there was a robust security presence inside. The guards reportedly fled as the attack intensified in the eastern Libyan city.
In common with every other diplomatic post throughout the world, security at the Benghazi consulate was reviewed in the days before to the Sept. 11 anniversary, the official said. But security of the diplomatic corps in the post-9/11 world has become a major concern at the State Department and on Capitol Hill.
Former national security officials explained that there is always a compromise that must be struck between security and accessibility.
You have to balance being secure and being able to do your job, former State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said. You can never completely eliminate the risk. Clearly these attackers exceeded the firepower of a typical diplomatic post defense.
The Washington Guardian website reported Wednesday that the State Department's own internal watchdog, its Diplomatic Security office, recently acknowledged it lacked the funding for some recommended improvements, including security training, and was instead looking for workarounds.
Top Obama administration officials said they were still struggling late Wednesday to ascertain a clear timeline of how the events unfolded and who was involved in the attacks in Benghazi and one on the embassy in Egypt. Several officials and analysts speculated that militant Muslims used a trailer from a low-budget film that depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a pedophile and a fraud to incite the mobs and use it for cover to attack. …