Just after the attack on the Libyan consulate in Benghazi, Breitbots started the usual right wing whining intended to paint the president as a lily-livered weakling who was somehow intentionally undermining national security. Their specific complaint was that there were no Marines guarding the Benghazi compound. This is not unusual, as I explained last week, but never let the right wing pass up an excuse for faux outrage, especially if Politico bangs the drum right alongside them.
For the benefit of the erstwhile Jake Tapper, here is an excellent article about overseas security, who's responsible for providing it, and why there weren't any Marines guarding the consulate. Hint to Jake: Marines don't guard people or property when stationed at embassies. They guard information. The hired help guards people and property:
Private Security Contractors: Although the host country is responsible for maintaining security outside the embassy, the U.S. State Department will typically employ private guards at the perimeter. Those guards are often residents of the country, or third-country nationals, who are responsible for initial screening measures such as checking cars for weapons or bombs. The State Department also employs companies to provide highly trained protective security details to diplomats. "Diplomats will often have private security details that are ex-military, such as former SEALs," says Doug Brooks, president of the International Stability Operations Association (ISOA), a group representing private contractors.
But in 2009, amid growing criticism for its heavy reliance on private security contractors like Blackwater Worldwide, the State Department moved to hire government specialists to beef up diplomatic security. One of the four Americans killed in this week’s attack has been identified as a former Navy SEAL, but he was in the region on a mission to track weapons, not to protect the consulate.
If Jake bothered to read C&L and our comments, he would already have known this and could have gotten Ambassador Rice to nod in agreement rather than pretending he's Andrew Breitbart incarnate to grill her on the non-existent need for Marines to be guarding every embassy and consulate in the universe.
Just sayin', Jake. The Google is your friend.
Transcript below the fold.
TAPPER: Why was there such a security breakdown? Why was there not better security at the compound in Benghazi? Why were there not U.S. Marines at the embassy in Tripoli?
RICE: Well, first of all, we had a substantial security presence with our personnel...
TAPPER: Not substantial enough, though, right?
RICE: ... with our personnel and the consulate in Benghazi. Tragically, two of the four Americans who were killed were there providing security. That was their function. And indeed, there were many other colleagues who were doing the same with them.
It obviously didn't prove sufficient to the -- the nature of the attack and sufficient in that -- in that moment. And that's why, obviously, we have reinforced our remaining presence in Tripoli and why the president has very -- been very clear that in Libya and throughout the region we are going to call on the governments, first of all, to assume their responsibilities to protect our facilities and our personnel, and we're reinforcing our facilities and our -- our embassies where possible...
TAPPER: But why...
RICE: ... and where needed.
TAPPER: Why would we not have Marines at the embassy in Tripoli to begin with? It would seem like this -- this is obviously an unstable country. This is a region where U.S. interests have been attacked in previous months. Why were there not Marines there to begin with?
RICE: First of all, there are Marines in some places around the world. There are not Marines in every facility. That depends on the circumstances. That depends on the requirements. Our presence in Tripoli, as in Benghazi, is relatively new, as you will recall. We've been back post-revolution only for a matter of months.
But I've visited there myself, both to Tripoli and Benghazi. I was very grateful to have a strong security presence with me as part of our -- our embassy detachment there. So we certainly are aware that Libya is a place where there have been increasingly some violent incidents. The security personnel that the State Department thought were required were in place. And we'll see when the investigation unfolds whether what was -- what transpired in Benghazi might have unfolded differently in different circumstances.
But the president has been very clear. The protection of American personnel and facilities is and will remain our top priority. That's why we've reinforced our presence in Tripoli and elsewhere.
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