Among the information contained in these docs: The names of Libyan security contractors who protected the embassy and whose lives are, as you might expect, now in grave danger. But that’s not the bit I want to excerpt. This is:
At least one document found amid the clutter indicates that Americans at the mission were discussing the possibility of an attack in early September, just two days before the assault took place. The document is a memorandum dated Sept. 9 from the U.S. mission’s security office to the 17th February Martyrs Brigade, the Libyan-government-sanctioned militia that was guarding the compound, making plans for a “quick reaction force,” or QRF, that would provide security…
The security presence appears to have been bare-bones, with three or more members on the compound any time the “principal officer” was present — either the head of the mission or the ambassador.
When the principal officer was not present, a single militia member was instructed to be at the front gate between 8 a.m. and midnight. Between midnight and 8 a.m., one militia member was scheduled to be on roving patrol. The militia members were supposed to work a minimum of eight hours a day and were to be paid a stipend of about $28 a day, a relatively standard wage in Benghazi. They were housed on the compound.
The memorandum tells the militia security force to summon more guards from its nearby compound if the mission is attacked, suggesting that the Americans there were concerned that the regular guard force would be inadequate in an emergency.
They were worried that an attack was coming and they knew they didn’t have enough security on hand to handle it, and yet they were still forced to rely on a militia for protection. That was a risk twice over, once in that the militiamen were likely to be more poorly trained and equipped than professional security and twice in that using locals increased the risk of an inside job. Here’s what I really don’t understand, though: If State thought a militia was up to the task of securing the compound before the attack, why isn’t it up to the task of securing the compound now so that the FBI can get inside for a few days? That’s the excuse we’ve been given about the feds’ foot-dragging, that the city’s just too dangerous for American personnel. But it was dangerous on September 10th, too — enough so that the consulate was already making plans for back-up in the event of an attack. Why was the 17th February militia good enough on September 10th if it’s not good enough on October 3rd?
Here’s CNN’s Arwa Damon, just back from the scene. She says a safe was carted away by looters, among other things. Exit question: If you’ve lost Maureen Dowd, then you’ve lost … no one really, I guess?