The PJ Tatler

US Consulate in Benghazi Did Not Have Standard Security

As our tipster noted, we have to find stories like this in the overseas press. The US press is too busy flogging Mitt Romney for showing some leadership. So let’s note for the record that this story comes to us by way of the BBC.

The US consulate in Benghazi, where the US ambassador to Libya died in an attack on Tuesday, was not given the standard security contract offered to many American diplomatic missions in the Middle East, private military contractors have told the BBC.

The consulate’s walls were breached in just 15 minutes, guards were outgunned and overwhelmed and four US personnel were killed, including the Ambassador, J Christopher Stevens.

US embassies and consulates in areas of the world where they are deemed liable to attack are usually offered a formal security contract called a Worldwide Protective Services Agreement, known in the industry as a ‘Wips’.

The contract, or so-called tasking order, is between the US state department and any one of several major private military contractors such as DynCorp International and Aegis Defence Services.

Noman Benotman Former Libyan jihadist

Under this agreement, extensive security precautions are put in place, including low-profile armoured vehicles, run-flat tyres, sufficient weapons, ammunition and trained personnel, as well as a tried and tested command and control system.

But sources have told the BBC that on the advice of a US diplomatic regional security officer, the mission in Benghazi was not given the full contract despite lobbying by private contractors.

Instead, the US consulate was guarded externally by a force of local Libyan militia, many of whom reportedly put down their weapons and fled once the mission came under concerted attack.

Farther down in the story, we get more detail about the attack itself.

“This was a well-crafted military operation [by the attackers],” said former Libyan jihadist Noman Benotman. “They would have carried out at least two weeks of surveillance.”

In his press briefing earlier today, on behalf of the president he serves Jay Carney said that the US was vigilant in protecting its overseas posts on 9-11-12, and that there was no advance warning of the attack, which did not appear to be pre-planned. Anyone who gets their information mostly from the US mainstream media would be inclined to agree with that assessment. But it’s flat wrong.

What we have instead is an administration that believed its own puffery about Barack Obama’s magical way with the outside world, and did not prepare for obvious threats. Today, our embassies across the Muslim world are all under siege.

How many other US consulates and posts out there lack adequate security contracts?