The just-published blockbuster book Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi tells the story of a consulate that wasn’t really a consulate. That had security that wasn’t really security. That was breached in a matter of seconds. That was attacked by an al-Qaeda group that knew the layout of the consulate down to where the gasoline, used to torch the safe haven that Ambassador Chris Stevens and Sean Smith fled to as the attack began, was kept.
Advertisement – story continues below
It’s not a pretty story.
According to Under Fire, the al-Qaeda group that attacked the consulate, Ansar al-Sharia, were given intelligence not only about the layout of the consulate, but its lack of security, revealing that the Americans living and working at the consulate were sitting ducks.
After Ambassador Chris Stevens had been begging Washington to provide additional security for the consulate for months and been turned down repeatedly, he sought help from the local Libyan militia and police, who also turned him down. Ansar al-Sharia, according to Fred Burton, the author of Under Fire, appeared to know more about the security—or lack of security—of the consulate than the entire Obama administration.
Advertisement – story continues below
Shockingly, the perimeter guards of the consulate, local Libyans making the equivalent of $4.00 an hour, weren’t armed. And the gate security, a handful of February 17 militia, were “armed” with Tasers and handcuffs. The State Department had contracted with the al-Qaeda-linked group, the February 17 militia, that had three months before the attack taken part in a parade, waving the al-Qaeda flag!
Most of this “security” melted away into the night after the attack began.
We often picture the consulate as being in the middle of nowhere, with no one around to offer any help. In fact it was located in a populous, upperclass neighborhood with the police and fire station only minutes away. Neighbors sat on their porches and watched the consulate burn as a kind of entertainment to pass the night away. As the hours passed and the men changed from Ansar al-Sharia carrying AK-47s to looters that found the body of Chris Stevens and dragged him through the streets yelling “Allahu Akbar,” no Libyan military showed up. No police. No fire department. Because there was basically no central functioning government.
Reportedly, according to Under Fire, the Turkish consul general, Ali Sait Akin, who had had a meeting with Ambassador Chris Stevens an hour before the attack, watched the consulate burn from the balcony of a nearby hotel.
In 2010, Barack Obama had told America that we needed to fund the Libyan “rebels”—made up primarily of al-Qaeda—to topple Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi. And what was left was anarchy, with bands of various al-Qaeda groups roaming the streets, armed with weapons taken from Gaddafi’s storehouses that were left unguarded once Gaddafi fell. Sound familiar? Obama wants to do the same thing in Syria.
In one of the most telling passages in Fred Burton’s book, Under Fire, he says the following:
…There was no centralized government in Libya; had there been one, one call could have brought a thousand heavily armed soldiers to the front door of Ambassador Stevens’s villa seconds after the first attack commenced.
But this isn’t the worst of it. You see, Ambassador Chris Stevens and Communications officer Sean Smith didn’t have to die.
Like building codes we have here in the United States, the U.S. State Department requires all Safe Havens—the area embassy or consulate that staff resort to during an attack—to be built to what is called Inman Standards, which specifies that the Safe Haven be fire resistant and have a ventilation system to remove smoke, among other things.
According to Under Fire:
The safe haven was not fireproof, however. There was no emergency high-volume air system to remove suffocating smoke in case the building was set ablaze; there were no smoke hoods stored inside the safe haven, as such emergency gear was not part of such a standardized specification.
You may ask, why was this? You see, even though the compound in practice served as a consulate, the State Department deemed it a “temporary mission,” and not a consulate. And thus, it didn’t need to follow any of the stringent requirements of being fire resistant or requiring a ventilation system to remove noxious fumes from a fire. Most don’t know this, but Chris Stevens and Sean Smith were not burned to death; they died of smoke inhalation.
Americans died, in effect, because under Obama, the Bureaucrat-in-Chief, someone decided to check the “temporary mission” box instead of the “consulate” box on some form.
Americans should be outraged that Barack Obama left our brave Americans as sitting ducks in Benghazi.