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  • Contrast

    Posted by David Foster on September 17th, 2012 (All posts by )

    Social Security Administration recently purchased a significant quantity of ammunition for its 295 special agents, who are “responsible for investigating violations of the laws that govern SSA’s programs.” Other civilian government departments, including the National Marine Fisheries Service, have also been purchasing ammunition recently.

    Obama friend & advisor Valerie Jarrett has a full Secret Service detail while on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard.

    But Ambassador Chris Stevens was not provided with a Marine detail in Benghazi, Libya. Nor was he provided with guards operating under”the standard security contract offered to many American diplomatic missions in the Middle East,” according to the BBC, but rather with a much lower level of protection. This, despite the fact that there had been 4 previous terrorist attacks against international targets in Benghazi since June of this year.

    Maybe–maybe–it’s reasonable and prudent to have armed Social Security agents in normal American cities, and to provide Secret Service protection, in an upper-income resort area, for an individual who is merely a Presidential advisor and friend–not an elected official, not a Cabinet officer. But wouldn’t it be 10 times more important to provide armed security for the U.S. Ambassador in one of the most dangerous areas of the world, on a date when there was every reason to believe the terrorist threat would be greater than usual?

    Related: Robert Avrech on the Obama administration’s failure to act on security warnings from Israel.

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    12 Responses to “Contrast”

    1. Ginny Says:

      I have a friend who argues that Stevens was one of the best – his background from Peace Corps days, his language skills, the relations he set up during the Libyan revolution – and therefore, as has happened in other places and times, it is the leaders who might be able to make a difference who are silenced. I don’t know enough about him or such targeting – but it does seem this purposeful choice might emphasize the planning. Does anyone have a sense of this?

      The protection of Jarrett probably indicates this administration’s paranoia about, say, the Tea Party, and its sense that any problems with the Muslims are either just chance (Fort Hood) or the result of some provocation (Youtube).

    2. Joe Citizen Says:

      So Robert, do you happen to know who it is that makes the assessment regarding how much security is required in consulates around the world? Honest question here – I don’t know the answer, though I would suspect that it gets routed through the ambassador.

      Do you have any evidence that might give some measure of relevance to the comparisons you are making – regarding some White House decision to downgrade or deny the security recommendations that filtered up to them (if they got up that high at all), from the field?

      You seem to be accusing the WH of making decisions to provide security to Jarrett, but not to Stevens. What is the basis of that?

    3. Joe Citizen Says:

      Sorry, I meant to address the comment to David….

    4. David Foster Says:

      JC…an executive is responsible for establishing a decision architecture, and selecting the people to implement that architecture. His responsibility for things that are done or not done by his organization is not dependent on his personal involvement in same.

    5. Joe Citizen Says:

      Thanks for your response David. I understand now.

      This was not a WH decision. Someone in the chain between Benghazi and the Pentagon made a miscalculation about what the appropriate level of security for the Consulate should be. I agree with that – it does seem rather obvious, given what happened. Have you come across any reporting that specifies where the mistake was made?

      I guess we can all be thankful that the Social Security Administration and the Secret Service have security assessors who are more on the ball.

    6. elfsta Says:

      It would be quite in character to identify key personnel and kill them. Certainly they would have known he was the key DoS handpicked by Hillary man.

      Since they were the ones he dealt with. This man knew his killers.

    7. John Burgess Says:

      David: The decisions about an Ambassador’s security are made in a network. Various USG agencies will have input, from CIA, DIA, NSA, State DSS, as well as the USMC. But the ultimate decision is made by the Ambassador himself. He can choose to go heavy or go light. Here, it appears that Amb. Stevens chose to go light. He was very familiar with Benghazi and appears to have believed that he was not in great danger there.

      There was no USMC security detachment in Benghazi, but that’s not very surprising, either. Whether there will be one is a matter of decisions and negotiations undertaken by both State and the USMC. Deciding which posts get USMC guards is a lengthy process that includes a lot of variables, from the size of the post to how its going to be paid for. There’s no tap that just gets turned and security detachments pour out.

      It’s not just a bunch of Marines that get that duty, either, but rather the very best who get rewarded with the assignment. Before they get sent out, there has to be a place for them to stay. The Consulate in Benghazi was in temporary quarters. I doubt that there were any provisions for basing a detachment.

      I don’t know the size of the detachment in Tripoli, but unless it was intentionally oversized, it would not have been possible to detach part of it to accompany Stevens. If it was believed necessary, the Ambassador’s travel would have been curtailed first.

      Ultimately, though, it’s up to the Ambassador to decide what sort of security he needs or wants. He can call on the advice and counsel of a lot of people, but he gets to decide. Unless, that is, State or the President explicitly tells him not to do something. He decides the ROE for the Marines; he decides whether they go around the embassy with loaded weapons. He can certainly call upon contract guards if he believes he needs them.

      I am not in the least blaming Stevens here. He took a risk and thought he understood it. In hindsight, he was wrong. That doesn’t make him morally culpable, just in error.

    8. Shannon Love Says:

      Unless we know otherwise, it is unlikely that Obama or any of his senior staff played much of a role in the details of the Embassy security arraignments. That’s something way below the Presidents level of attention except in extraordinary circumstances. Also, we are talking about Obama who ignores foreign policy to the greatest extent possible. This is the man who keep on Bush’s secretary of Defense and put his major democratic rival in at State. Clearly, he doesn’t care much about foreign policy.

      But…

      People lower down the food chain will take their decision queues from the top seeking to keep their decisions in sync with elected officials. It is possible that the mentalities of blame-America-first and “we can talk our way out of any problem” silted down the lower echelons at the State department such that they though it in keeping with administration policy to deny the embassy protection.

      A well know example of this would be Les Aspin’s decision not to allow the Army in Somalia to use tanks in the operation that would come to be known as “Blackhawk Down”. Aspin did so because of a widespread belief in the Clinton administration and the upper echelons of the Democratic party in general that American actions provoked violence and that the best policy was always to use absolutely minimum force. (Aspin to his credit to full blame for the episode and resigned. He died the next year, possibly of a broken heart. He was a pre-60s old school Democrat.)

      I think it likely that whomever the made the security decision did so under the influence of the Obama adminstrations highly negative view of America’s role in the world. After all, this is the President who as a Senator refused to wear a flag pin because “many people in the world consider it a symbol of oppression.” That’s not the attitude that communicates to subordinates, “watch our people’s backs.”

    9. Andrew_M_Garland Says:

      Stevens thought he was safe
      09/14/12 – The DiplomMad
      === ===
      [edited, emphasis added]  This feckless policy of one-sided engagement and self-abasement, of willingness to dismiss the crazies’ public utterances, and the insistence on emphasizing the positive, will only get our citizens murdered here and abroad, our diplomats dragged through the streets, our embassies burned, and our flag used as a door mat. Weakness by us inspires craziness in them.

      Ambassador Stevens, whom I knew slightly, thought he was safe with and loved by the people he helped “free” from Qaddafi; he saw himself as a new Lawrence of Arabia, and instead ended up as a new Charles George “Chinese” Gordon of Khartoum.
      === ===

    10. grey eagle Says:

      “So Robert, do you happen to know who it is that makes the assessment regarding how much security is required in consulates around the world?”

      An ambassador represents the President. His credentials state that whatever he says, ex officio, is exactly what the president would say if he were present. Whatever he agrees to, ex officio, has the same force as though the president agreed to it. This is ancient definition of the ambassador and it has never been changed. If these powers are not included in his credentials, then he is not an ambassador.

      What ever is done to an ambassador is done to the President. If you give him a drink, you give the President a drink. (I suppose if Romney is elected, that all US ambassadors will stop drinking – ex officio – although cocktails might continue to be enjoyed informally.

      By the same token, the assassination of an ambassador is the same as the assassination of the president. Therefore, the ambassador is entitled to the same secret service protection given to the president. Because the ambassador is in a foreign country an ambassador needs this protection. A good president does not need it because the American people love and protect him.

      Obama and Clinton should be impeached for the high crime of failing to provide adequate protection for an ambassador.

    11. grey eagle Says:

      Homeland security has purchased 200,0000,0000 rounds of ammunition. That means they plan to shoot 200,000,000 American men, women and children. Whom else could they plan to shoot? Are there 200,000,000 enemy aliens in the US?

    12. Andrew_M_Garland Says:

      34% of Americans self identify as Democrats.

      (1-34%) x 310 million Americans = 204.6 million non Democrats.