Monday, October 22, 2012

Criminal Negligence: Benghazi Files Part 4

My continuing review of the documents related to the Murder of Ambassador Stevens continues.  The next document I will review is a Memo from Ambassador Stevens to Washington, DC (the White House?) and The Secretary of State.  It is titled, "The Guns of August: security in eastern Libya," and on pages 36 and 37.

It is divided into five paragraphs.  The first talks about the general climate of Libya.  It begins inauspiciously: "Since the eve of the elections, Benghazi has moved from trepidation to euphoria and back as a series of violent incidents has dominated the political landscape during the Ramadan holiday."  The entire paragraph is devoted to the non-existence of a stable security force in Benghazi.

The second paragraph expands on that theme of weak security.  It uses the term "understaffed" and points to the assessment of the commander of the largest security force, The Supreme Security Council (SSC): "SSC Benghazi has not coalesced into a an effective, stable security force."

The third paragraph follows from the first two.  Poor security and widespread violence feeds chaos, and it is clear from this paragraph that was the case i n Benghazi in August of 2012.  "The absence of significant deterrence, has contributed to a security vacuum that is being exploited by independent actors."

The fourth speaks to a problem our own founders faced: one of mistrust.  I'll quote it in its entirety:
Though most acknowledge the need, others fear the government's potential strength.  But a centralized and professional security force is the future, and contacts across the political spectrum concede that the government needs to be strong enough to keep the peace (though strongly committed to doing so within checks and balances).  This is a long-term prospect the militias regard with suspicion at best.  As Benghazi navigate the move from a Transitional Council no one respects to a National Congress no one yet knows, they are clearly jockeying for position in a game that involves public relations and private intimidation.  (Comment: A surprising number of contacts here dismiss many of the recent incidents - particularly the bombs that were reportedly discovered and disarmed - as having been engineered by the various security forces to discredit their rivals, to improve their own standing, and to seize prime real estate.  End comment).

An ineffective, and mistrusted governing authority.  An understaffed and ineffective security force.  Growing violence from all corners.

The fifth and final paragraph in this document should have caused immediate dispatch of increased security.  Once again, the effectiveness of the SSC is called into question.  It ends with these two sentences:
What we have seen are not random crimes of opportunity, but rather targeted and discriminate attacks.  Attackers are unlikely to be deterred until authorities are at least as capable.

How could any rational human being have chosen not to send greater security, or to determine that the cost was not justified, and just remove our presence from Benghazi completely?

To continue in Part 5

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

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