OK

Other than a fizzled rally yesterday, we haven’t heard much about Benghazi! from the usual suspects.  So what’s been going on?

There actually was a new terrorist attack on a diplomatic building in Benghazi yesterday, on the one-year anniversary of the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.  The car-bomb attack heavily damaged the Libyan Foreign Ministry building – which happened to be the U.S. Consulate back in the reign of King Idris, before Gaddafi (pick your spelling) overthrew him. Fortunately, the attack occurred early in the morning before anyone arrived, and no deaths have been reported.

Not made much headway has been made in the U.S. attempts to track down and apprehend the "evil doers" who perpetrated the Sept. 11, 2012, attack.  Although several key persons involved in the attack have been identified, none has been captured.  The State Department apparently decided not to offer a bounty for the capture of suspects, so the failure to capture anyone is not very surprising.  About the only thing that has happened, at least as far as the public knows, is a grand jury indictment of "several suspects" in the Benghazi attack, including Ahmed Abu Khattala, reportedly a leader of the Ansar al Sharia militia.

The F.B.I. briefly interrogated an Ansar al Sharia member thought to have some connection with the 2012 Benghazi attack, but he was eventually released by the Tunisian government for lack of evidence and departed for parts unknown.  Nothing apparently has developed from that interrogation.

Although no progress appears to have been made on the "bring them to justice" front, there has been some progress in improving security at U.S. diplomatic posts.  Contrary to the right-wing conspiracy theorists, Chris Stevens was not killed by lethal injection or any other direct action of the attackers.  He died from smoke inhalation and the toxic fumes from burning foam cushions of the furniture that the attackers had doused with diesel fuel and set alight.

Back in Building C, where the Ambassador is, the building is rapidly filling with smoke. The attackers have exited. The smoke is extremely thick. It’s diesel smoke, and also, obviously, smoke from – fumes from the furniture that’s burning. And the building inside is getting more and more black. The Ambassador and the two others make a decision that it’s getting – it’s starting to get tough to breathe in there, and so they move to another part of the safe haven, a bathroom that has a window. They open the window. The window is, of course, grilled. They open the window trying to get some air in. That doesn’t help. The building is still very thick in smoke.

And I am sitting about three feet away from Senior Official Number Two, and the agent I talked to said he could not see that far away in the smoke and the darkness. So they’re in the bathroom and they’re now on the floor of the bathroom because they’re starting to hurt for air. They are breathing in the bottom two feet or so of the room, and even that is becoming difficult. -- LINK


As a reaction to the 2012 attack, the State Department expanded its training of diplomatic personnel to deal with fire suppression.  The use of smoke hoods, for example, could have saved lives -- including Chris Stevens -- but apparently no one used them in Benghazi, although they are normally available in diplomatic posts. A new directorate has been created inside the Diplomatic Security Service that will directly and solely oversee designated high-threat diplomatic posts.  Better measures to allow oversight of warnings and indicators leading up to a possible attack also have been put in place.

The State Department also has become more cautious when dealing with potential threats to diplomatic posts.  For example, this past August 4, State announced that several U.S. embassies in the Middle East and Africa would be closed due to a terror threat. The resources available for quick responses to attacks have also been improved by forward deploying United States Marine Corps FAST teams to Europe.  Five hundred troops have been stationed in Spain for some time, and 225 of those were deployed even further forward to Italy for the 9/11 anniversary. This forward deployment of FAST teams and other military resources allows for responses to attacks in trouble spots within six hours.

The U.S. nevertheless will continue to have a diplomatic presence, even in dangerous locations. Most, if not all, of the posts closed during the summer have reopened on at least a limited basis. Even the U.S. Embassy in Mogadishu, Somalia, will apparently re-open.

Originally posted to NoMoJoe on Thu Sep 12, 2013 at 08:42 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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