Saturday, October 17, 2015

The right to return.

Normally, the capacity to return to a country or homeland is preserved for refugees or immigrants. But, there is something else over looked. The right of return to culture being what it was, not as it has become.

Changing a country is not the business of the United States of America. Providing the opportunity to change is not self-serving enough for some. But, to occupy a country is completely wrong.

When the attacks upon the USA on September 11, 2001 occurred the organizer was in Afghanistan protected by Taliban. The reason Osama bin Laden was in Afghanistan was to hide from the world. He was banished from civilization and his hatred of society was more than obvious. Some say it originated from being one unique of many siblings. Some say it was simply pure evil. But, regardless of what brought Osama bin Laden to hate the USA, he did so with obsession. 

When packages of food along with messages of the impending invasion of Americans were dropped in Afghanistan from the sky, the country was one removed from telephones, television and basically the 20th or 21st century. They knew little about World Trade Towers or their collapse.

The people of Afghanistan have lived as they had probably for millennium. The donkey, the transportation of Mary by Joseph, was still the idea of modern and sustainable transportation in Afghanistan. The mountains would prove how life was dictated by a land where little grew. Afghanistan is not conducive to modernization. The frequent earthquakes in Pakistan should set an example of how a skyline would never dominate the idea of modern civilization in this region of the world.

Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan along with bordering countries of Iran, China and India would become a mission for change to the political USA. That is not the purpose of land or people. Women's rights and human rights are estranged from these lands. The Taliban is a manifestation of bin Laden and his madman mullah, the one eyed Mohammad Omar. The Taliban have only been in existence since 1994. 

1991 - Bin Laden  (click here) is expelled from Saudi Arabia due to his anti-government activities. He takes refuge in Sudan. Eventually, Saudi Arabia revokes his citizenship, and his family disowns him as well.

The financial inheritance of Osama bin Laden after his father's death is anywhere from $300 million to $40 million as his father's fortune was estimated to be about $7 billion. But, it doesn't matter if Osama bin Laden only brought one million with him, it created power within the hands of men who had never known it in the way of guns.

The people of this region are intelligent people. The idea the USA has been in Afghanistan for 14 years without changing the fact their primary agriculture are poppies only speaks to the stubbornness of it's men to have life as it always has been. The Taliban are the FAULT of bin Laden, not the USA. The question is are the Taliban the enemy of the USA? And answer is no. Are they the enemy of the people of Afghanistan? Perhaps. But, then what prevents the men to pick up guns and weapons against them?

It was obvious the Afghan people, especially the men loved the freedom to shave their beards after the bin Laden party went to Pakistan. The Taliban was mostly dissolved in Afghanistan until it reconstituted while bin Laden was residing in Pakistan. If the Taliban can be dissolved once it can be again. It seems to me the USA has over stayed it's welcome. That probably has been true for awhile now.

The USA has itself become stuck in a quagmire of fear at the thought of leaving Iraq and Afghanistan and not having control no matter how elusive that sincerely is. It fears that if the region is not dominated by America's presence the evil will come to our shores once more. Therefore, the USA is suppose to make a South Korea of Iraq and Afghanistan and keep it stocked with young American men and plenty of killing power. That is grossly wrong and one has to wonder what Japan would look like if that were the posture of the Allies back then.

So, to the amusement of those resigned to hatred as a real value in life, we have a new Taliban. One far more venomous than the one before.

October 17, 2015

The Taliban (click here) is emerging from months of turmoil after July's revelation that reclusive, long-time leader Mullah Omar was dead. News of his passing had been hidden from the rank-and-file for two years.
The ensuing uncertainty — and the naming of Omar's deputy, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, as the new leader — raised hopes that the militancy was wounded and could be forced into concessions at peace talks.
Instead, the new Taliban chief consolidated his control with the appointment of top deputies and the rolling out of an apparent PR campaign. A spate of battlefield victories followed. By the time Kunduz in northern Afghanistan fell to the militants on Sept. 28 — their first captured city since U.S.-backed forces invaded 14 years ago — it was clear that the reconstituted Taliban is a force to be reckoned with.... 

The USA is creating it's own enemies as it did with Osama bin Laden. The mission of the USA is finished in Afghanistan and the Afghan people have a right of return.

5. The Board found that certain senior State Department officials within two bureaus in critical positions of authority and responsibility in Washington demonstrated a lack of proactive leadership and management ability appropriate for the State Department’s senior ranks in their responses to security concerns posed by Special Mission Benghazi, given the deteriorating threat environment and the lack of reliable host government protection. However, the Board did not find that any individual U.S. Government employee engaged in misconduct or willfully ignored his or her responsibilities, and, therefore did not find reasonable cause to believe that an individual breached his or her duty so as to be the subject of a recommendation for disciplinary action.

The Benghazi mission was neglected and abandoned for fiscal reasons, except, for the priority the late Ambassador placed on it. His authority was unquestioned and there was little to no FILED assessment on a daily basis to create a base of knowledge. His person and intellect and authority proved too much for others to contribute to his safety.

Afghanistan is not Iraq. Daesh are the Ba'athists. There are no Ba'athists endemic to Afghanistan.

The Taliban of Afghanistan and a Taliban group in Iran have formed an alliance to take on Daesh. Daesh has it's own threat assessment among the countries and leaders in the region. No one is going to wait for the USA to position it's ASSESTS perfectly to end the pestilence of Daesh. 

The only way the USA can be of service to Afghanistan is TO GET OUT OF THE WAY and leave it's hospitals lone! 

"CIA Aided Iraqi Ba'athists" (click here)

The Board found that intelligence provided no immediate, specific tactical warning of the September 11 attacks. Known gaps existed in the intelligence community’s understanding of extremist militias in Libya and  ihe potential threat they posed to U.S. interests, although some threat were known to exist.

Did I say over and over and over, intelligence was poor? Did I relay that insight? DID I? Don't pretend I am not read, I know I am. YET, the scandal and the sensationalism was paramount to cutting down the former Secretary Clinton. As a matter of fact I stated that FACT the day of the attack and long before this report existed. My observation was more than reasonable given information within the media, but, that would never do the USA media.

NO? Look it up right here on this blog!

Terrorist networks are difficult to monitor, and the Board emphasizes the conclusion of previous accountability review boards that vulnerable missions cannot rely on receiving specific warning intelligence. Similarly, the lack of specific threat intelligence does not imply a lessening of probability of a terrorist attack. The Board found that there was a tendency on the part of policy, security and other U.S. government officials to rely heavily on the probability of warning intelligence and on the absence of specific threat information. The result was possibly to overlook the usefulness of taking a hard look at accumulated, sometimes circumstantial information, and instead to fail to appreciate threats and understand trends, particularly based on increased violence and the targeting of foreign diplomats and international organizations in Benghazi. The latter information failed to come into clear relief against a backdrop of the lack of effective governance, widespread and growing political violence and instability and the ready availability of weapons in eastern Libya. There were U.S. assessments that provided situational awareness on the persistent, general threat to U.S. and Western interests in eastern Libya, including Benghazi. Board members, however, were struck by the lack of discussion focused specifically on Benghazi. 

The late Ambassador Stevens was the authority in Libya, specifically Benghazi. No else could advise him UNLESS there was specific intelligence to the area. Which there wasn't. Situational awareness was respected when meetings were held in the compound. 

Might I add that when the USA is engaged in hideous wars it detracts from vital missions elsewhere that might actually bring peace to the Middle East. Is there any clear understanding that the war into Iraq was illegal as the USA's return is as well.


Applying the idea the USA should never have left Iraq (a known illegal and failed war) to that of Afghanistan is pure stupidity and an EXCUSE for continued missions in that country.

Benghazi’s threat environment had been generally deteriorating since the “gelatina” bomb was thrown over the SMC fence on April 6, but was not judged to have reached a critical point before September 11. The July 7 elections, about which there had been some trepidation regarding the security situation, passed with less violence than expected and were followed by Ramadan, when incidents are usually lower. Before September 11, a patchwork of militias in Benghazi had assumed many, if not all, of the security functions normally associated with central government organs, as the government had little authority or reach in Benghazi. There seemed to be no attempt, however, to link formally the many anti-Western incidents in Benghazi, the general declarations of threat in U.S. assessments and a proliferation of violence prone and little understood militias, the lack of any central authority and a general perception of a deteriorating security environment to any more specific and timely analysis of the threat to U.S. government facilities.

Board members found that there was little understanding of militias in Benghazi and the threat they posed to U.S. interests. One prime factor behind this knowledge gap was that eastern Libya is home to many militias, which are constantly dissolving, splitting apart and reforming

...constantly dissolving, splitting apart and these Third World countries are not a strategy, it is economic.

Furthermore, many individuals are associated with more than one militia. Understanding of February 17, in particular, was further limited by the fact that it is an umbrella organization, made up of many different militias with differing ideologies, some of which are extremist in nature. 

February 17 being an umbrella organization was intelligence. The question is was it sufficient intelligence and did it have conflict of interest to that of Americans?

The Board determined there were no warnings from Libyan interlocutor

There is the answer. February 17 was an unknown commodity and was trusted without cause.
The Board found that the lack of nonlethal crowd control options also precluded a more vigorous defense of the SMC. The Board also determined that the lack of fire safety equipment severely impacted the Ambassadors and Sean Smith’s ability to escape the deadly smoke conditions. On the other hand, the DS agents’ tactical driving training, as well as their fully armored vehicle, saved their lives when they were attacked by weapons fire en route from the SMC to the Annex. In addition, the DS emergency medical training and the DS issued personal medical kit saved an ARSO’s life after he was severely injured by a mortar attack at the Annex.

The Board found the Libyan government’s response to be profoundly lacking on the night of the attacks, reflecting both weak capacity and a near total absence of central government influence in Benghazi. The Libyan government did facilitate assistance from a quasi-governmental militia that supported the evacuation of U.S. government personnel to Benghazi airport. It also facilitated the departure of the charter plane carrying the Tripoli rescue team to Benghazi, and provided a Libyan Air Force C-130 that was used to evacuate remaining personnel and the bodies of the deceased from Benghazi on the morning of September 12. 

Washington - Tripoli - Benghazi communication, cooperation, and coordination on the night of the attacks were effective, despite multiple channels of communication among Washington, Tripoli, Benghazi, and AFRICOM headquarters in Stuttgart, as well as multiple channels of communication within Washington itself. Embassy Tripoli served as a lifeline to Benghazi throughout the attacks, marshalling support from Washington, Stuttgart and elsewhere, including quickly organizing the charter plane that sent the seven person reinforcement team to Benghazi. At the direction of AFRICOM, DoD moved a remotely piloted, unarmed surveillance aircraft to Benghazi, which arrived over the SMC shortly before the DS team departed. A second remotely piloted, unarmed surveillance aircraft relieved the first, and monitored the eventual evacuation of personnel from the Annex to Benghazi airport later on the morning of September 12.

Embassy Tripoli staff showed absolute dedication and teamwork in mobilizing to respond to the crisis, with the DCM, DATT, Political, and other country team sections reaching out to a wide range of contacts in Tripoli and Benghazi to secure support; the Public Affairs team monitoring social media sites and recording a log of Mission calls;  the Embassy nurse providing invaluable guidance on caring for the wounded evacuated from Benghazi; and a Consular officer donating blood that helped save the life of a wounded colleague. Throughout the crisis, the Acting NEA Assistant Secretary provided crucial leadership guidance to Embassy Tripoli’s DCM, and Embassy Tripoli’s RSO offered valuable counsel to the DS agents in Benghazii.

The interagency response was timely and appropriate, but there simply was not enough time given the speed of the attacks for armed U.S. military assets to have made a difference. Senior level interagency discussions were underway soon after Washington received initial word of the attacks and continued through the night. The Board found no evidence of any undue delays in decision making or denial of support from Washington or from the military combatant commanders. Quite the contrary: the safe evacuation of all U.S. government personnel from Benghazi twelve hours after the initial attack and subsequently to Ramstein Air Force Base was the result of exceptional U.S. government coordination and military response and helped save the lives of two severely wounded Americans. In addition, at the State Department’s request, the Department of Defense also provided a Marine FAST (Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team) as additional security support for Embassy Tripoli on September 12.

Overall, communication systems on the night of the attacks worked, with a near constant information flow among Benghazi, Tripoli, and Washington. Cell phones were the main method of contact, but lacked redundancy. Radio communications between the Annex and the SMC also worked well, thanks to prior coordination between the two. 

Shortly after receiving the initial notification from Embassy Tripoli at approximately 1545 EST, the State Department Operations Center notified the interagency, including the White House, of the Special Mission attack by secure conference call and email alerts. The Operations Center and the Diplomatic Security Command Center (DSCC) were exemplary in eliciting information from Tripoli and Benghazi based colleagues without overloading them.
The Board learned that, as of the time of the attacks, the Special Mission compound had received additional surveillance cameras, which remained in boxes uninstalled, as technical support to install them had not yet visited post. In addition, the camera monitor in the local guard force booth next to the C1 gate was inoperable on the day of the attacks, a repair which also awaited the arrival of a technical team. Some aspects of physical security upgrades did perform as intended–in particular, the safe area in Villa C, which prevented intruders from entering and the TOC door, which protected the DS agents from attackers trying to enter. Also, the installation of exits in the window grates of the Villa C safe area allowed ARSO 1 to escape the fire, and those exits were the entry point for him and other DS agents and Annex personnel to make multiple attempts to rescue and recover Sean Smith and Ambassador Stevens. 

The Board found the responses by both BML and February 17 to be inadequate. No BML guards were present outside the compound immediately before the attack ensued, although perimeter security was one of their responsibilities, and there is conflicting information as to whether they sounded any alarms prior to fleeing the C1 gate area to other areas of the SMC. Although the unarmed BML guards could not be expected to repel an attack, they had core responsibility for providing early warning and controlling access to the compound, which they had not always performed well in the past. In the final analysis, the Board could not determine exactly how the C1 gate at the Special Mission compound was breached, but the speed with which attackers entered raised the possibility that BML guards left the C1 pedestrian gate open after initially seeing the attackers and fleeing the vicinity. They had left the gate unlatched before.

The Board’s inquiry found  little evidence that the armed February 17 guards alerted Americans at the SMC to the attack or summoned a February 17 militia presence to assist expeditiously once the attack was in progress despite the fact that February 17 members were paid to provide interior security and a quick reaction force for the SMC and the fact that February 17 barracks were in the close vicinity, less than 2 km away from the SMC. A small number of February 17 militia members arrived at Villa C nearly an hour after the attack began. Although some February 17 members assisted in efforts to search for Ambassador Stevens in the smoke filled Villa C building, the Board found little evidence that February 17 contributed meaningfully to the defense of the Special Mission compound, or to the evacuation to the airport that took place on the morning of September 12.

In contrast, DS and Annex personnel on the ground in Benghazi performed with courage and an overriding desire to protect and rescue their colleagues, in a near impossible situation. The multiple trips that the DS agents and Annex security team members made into a burning, smoke-filled building in attempts to rescue Sean Smith and Ambassador Stevens showed readiness to risk life and limb to save others. They ultimately were unable to save Sean Smith and Ambassador Stevens, due to the intensity of the heat and smoke and a lack of resources, including breathing apparatus. The DS agents’ decision to depart the SMC without the Ambassador came after they had all suffered smoke inhalation due to multiple rescue attempts, and amidst a renewed attack that continued as they departed the compound. The Board members believe every possible effort was made to protect, rescue, and recover Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith, and that the bravery of the DS agents present in Benghazi helped prevent a further loss of life, particularly given their assistance in defending the Annex.
Security Planning 

Post and the Department were well aware of the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, although DS did not issue a worldwide caution cable to posts related to the anniversary. Ambassador Stevens and his DS agents had taken the anniversary into account by deciding to hold all meetings at the SMC that day rather than making any moves outside. The Ambassador chose to travel to Benghazi that week, independent of Washington, as per standard practice. Timing for his trip was driven in part by commitments in Tripoli, as well as a staffing gap between principal officers in Benghazi. His trip had been put off earlier in the summer, and the September 10 - 14 dates were not decided upon well in advance. The Board found that plans for the Ambassador’s trip provided for minimal close protection security support, and that Embassy country team members were not fully aware of planned movements off compound. The Ambassador did not see a direct threat of an attack of this nature and scale on the U.S. Mission in the overall negative trend line of security incidents from spring to summer 2012. His status as the leading U.S. government advocate on Libya policy, and his expertise on Benghazi in particular, caused Washington to give unusual deference to his judgments


3. Notwithstanding the proper implementation of security systems and procedures and remarkable heroism shown by American personnel, those systems themselves and the Libyan response fell short in the face of a series of attacks that began with the sudden penetration of the Special Mission compound by dozens of armed attackers. In short, Americans in Benghazi and their Tripoli colleagues did their best with what they had, which, in the end, was not enough to prevent the loss of lives of Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty. At the same time, U.S. security professionals prevented a further loss of life and helped ensure the safe evacuation of remaining American personnel in Benghazi 12 hours after the attacks began. 

As noted in the preceding section, physical security at the Special Mission was insufficient. The SMC perimeter was breached immediately, providing no reaction time to the five DS agents on compound. There was no advance warning regarding the group of attackers approaching outside the SMC prior to the attack, and no sign of them on surveillance cameras outside the C1 gate until the attack was underway

If I may, high walls and plenty of cc cameras.

Physical Security 

Given the threat environment, the physical security platform in Benghazi was inadequate. It is incumbent upon the Board, however, to acknowledge that several upgrades and repairs took place over 2012. DS provided additional funding for the Local Guard Force (LGF), February 17, and residential security upgrades, including heightening the outer perimeter wall, safety grills on safe area egress windows that helped save the life of ARSO 1 on the night of September 11, concrete jersey barriers, manual drop-arm vehicle barriers, a steel gate for the Villa C safe area, some locally manufactured steel doors, sandbag fortifications, security cameras, some additional security lighting, guard booths, and an Internal Defense Notification System. Because OBO does not fund security upgrades for “temporary” facilities, DS also identified non-traditional funding streams to fund physical security upgrades and worked with the IMOs, NEA and Embassy Tripoli to move funds and supplies to Benghazi. The Engineering Security Office (ESO) in Cairo provided strong technical support and regularly visited. Following the June 2012 IED incident, which blew a large hole in the compound wall, DS, OBO, Tripoli, NEA and ESO Cairo immediately responded to Benghazi’s request for assistance. Tripoli identified OBO funds that could be used to fix the wall, and ESO Cairo traveled to Benghazi on June 8 to provide technical support. The TDY IMOs worked tirelessly with the RSOs, Tripoli procurement and financial YIMOs worked tirelessly with the RSOs, Tripoli procurement and financial management staff, and Libyan professionals on statements of work, contracts and funding for the emergency repair of the SMC wall and for the other physical security upgrades, as well as ongoing electrical repairs. New upgrades remained a challenge, however, due to a lack of cash reserves and contract and procurement expertise, which meant Benghazi had to rely on Tripoli for further processing.

Benghazi was known in July 2012 to be a high risk facility and yet the funding was not available to over come the security demands. The late Ambassador was working on hope and not reality. He also sought to contain his exposure to danger through a time component. When he was in Libya it was for a fairly short period of time not a full compliment of permanency. He expected to leave after his diplomatic agenda was fulfilled. He used 'time' as a defense for his life and that of his personnel. The use of "time" as a defense is used by emergency personnel in a war zone.

The Board found, however, that Washington showed a tendency to overemphasize the positive impact of physical security upgrades, which were often field expedient improvements to a profoundly weak platform, while generally failing to meet Benghazi’s repeated requests to augment the numbers of TDY DS personnel. The insufficient Special Mission compound security platform was at variance with the appropriate Overseas Security Policy Board (OSPB) standards with respect to perimeter, interior security, and safe areas. Benghazi was also under resourced with regard to certain needed security equipment.

Embassies and consulates are not suppose to be prisons. The embassy in Iran became exactly that when hostages were taken. The compounds are suppose to provide security, but, should never serve as a war asset. Such facilities could be assessed by terrorists that we know use existing infrastructure to their advantage. Just a thought. I think the new aspect of a contingency force should be the focus of high risk missions. The contingency should have what they need for infrastructure which might improve funding as well. Every facility in the year 2015 should have a viable contingency infrastructure PREPARED so it can be implemented immediately. Benghazi needed that immediacy. Ex. The seals carried out a mission to end the life of bin Laden, right? The compound has to provide for such extraction of personnel.

The Board found the short-term, transitory nature of Benghazi’s staffing to be another primary driver behind the inadequate security platform in Benghazi. Staffing was at times woefully insufficient considering post’s security posture and high risk, high threat environment. The end result was a lack of institutional knowledge and mission capacity which could not be overcome by talent and hard work alone, although the Board found ample evidence of both in those who served there. The situation was exacerbated by the lack of Locally Employed Staff (LES) who would normally provide a backstop of continuity, local knowledge, and language ability. This staffing “churn” had significant detrimental effects on the post’s ability to assess adequately both the political and security environment, as well as to provide the necessary advocacy and follow-through on major, essential security upgrades. 

The Board determined that DS staffing levels in Benghazi after Embassy Tripoli re-opened were inadequate, decreasing significantly after then-Special Envoy Stevens’ departure in November 2011

He was doing his own staffing in Benghazi. He reasoned the security staff was enough. He had different priorities AND he also believed Benghazi was more secure than Tripoli where explosions had occurred near the embassy. He was conducting his mission from a hotel room in Libya. There has to be the question if hotels are to be considered nothing more than a secure place while waiting transport out of the country. HOWEVER, if that stipulation was made as policy, hotel rooms would never be accessed for safety purposes. The USA policy provides for enormous accommodation for an ambassador to achieve goals. What of that has to be tempered to modify the ambitions of it's personnel. 

Where is the stop gap to require a reality check? That reality check has to be person to person, not simply a learned tool.

Power. He had the power of the USA behind his mission. He was trusted with that power unquestionably. I am sure he appreciated that power, but, there needed to be a stop and assess before he substituted the idea of safety in Benghazi at a delicate time of year.

The person(s) that would have assessed the potential to danger of any personnel will require additional spending. The spending has to be unquestionable and permanent. 

Actually, that person(s) should be military. A reality check with military personnel will remind the State Department personnel of their vulnerability. It would be a time when a contingency could be determined to further the high risk mission or call them home with transport on the way. 

In my opinion, there is a process problem as well, when including a stop gap.

Although a full complement of five DS agents for Benghazi was initially projected, and later requested multiple times, Special Mission Benghazi achieved a level of five DS agents (not counting DoD - provided TDY Site Security Team personnel sent by Embassy Tripoli) for only 23 days between January 1 - September 9, 2012. As it became clear that DS would not provide a steady complement of five TDY DS agents to Benghazi, expectations on the ground were lowered by the daunting task of gaining approvals and the reality of an ever-shifting DS personnel platform. From discussions with former Benghazi-based staff, Board members concluded that the persistence of DS leadership in Washington in refusing to provide a steady platform of four to five DS agents created a resignation on the part of post about asking for more. The TDY DS agents resorted to doing the best they could with the limited resources provided. 

Furthermore, DS’s reliance on volunteers for TDY positions meant that the ARSOs in Benghazi often had relatively little or no prior DS program management or overseas experience. For a time,more experienced RSOs were sent out on longer term TDYs, but even that appeared to diminish after June 2012, exactly at the time the security environment in Benghazi was deteriorating further. It bears emphasizing, however, that the Board found the work done by these often junior DS agents to be exemplary. But given the threat environment and with very little operational oversight from more experienced, senior colleagues, combined with an under-resourced security platform, these agents were not well served by their leadership in Washington. The lack of Arabic language skills among most American personnel assigned to Benghazi and the lack of a dedicated LES interpreter and sufficient local staff also served as a barrier to effective communication and situational awareness at the Special Mission. 

Required security training for DS agents prior to service in Benghazi consisted of the High Threat Training Course (HTTC). However, domestically-based DS agents who had not served abroad did not have the opportunity to receive RSO training before serving in Benghazi. In addition, after April 2012 all personnel scheduled to serve in Libya for over 30 days were required to take the Foreign Affairs Counter Threat (FACT) training. IMOs, who also served as the “management officer” at post, did not, as a prerequisite, receive any basic management or General Services Officer (GSO) training to prepare them for their duties. 

There was too much emphasis on the late Ambassador's authority. He was unable to remove himself from the mission to accept a far less degree of security. I have a question. Was the mission hopelessly under funded to cause him to accept high risk without discerning safety? If a mission was hopelessly underfunded there would be a point where he would have decided, "That's life for me." and would move forward when he should have returned home. His British counter part left their security vehicles with him and left the country. Why was that not a reality check? He was alone in Benghazi. His peers had left.

The Board determined that reliance on February 17 for security in the event of an attack was misplaced, even though February 17 had been considered to have responded satisfactorily to previous, albeit less threatening, incidents. The four assigned February 17 guards were insufficient and did not have the requisite skills and reliability to provide a reasonable level of security on a 24/7 basis for an eight acre compound with an extended perimeter wall. In the days prior to the attack and on September 11, 2012, one was absent. Over the course of its inquiry, the Board also learned of troubling indicators of February 17’s loyalties and its readiness to assist U.S. personnel. In the weeks preceding the Ambassador’sarrival, February 17 had complained about salaries and the lack of a contract for its personnel. At the time of the attacks, February 17 had ceased accompanying Special Mission vehicle movements in protest. The Blue Mountain Libya (BML) unarmed guards, whose primary responsibilities were to provide early warning and control access to the SMC, were also poorly skilled.

All the precautions were dismissed and here is a complaint about the lack of commitment by the USA to provide contracts. One lesson the USA needs to learn is the "Warlord Paradigm." Loyalty goes to the warlord that provides the greatest wealth. Think ancient Rome and 'the dole.' It is exactly the same thing.

It is worthy to note the late Ambassador Stevens never once thought, "You can take this job and shove it."

1. The attacks in Benghazi were security-related, resulting in the deaths of our U.S. personnel after terrorists attacked two separate U.S. government facilities–the Special Mission compound (SMC) and the Annex.

Identification of the perpetrators and their motivations are the subject of an ongoing FBI criminal investigation. The Board concluded that no protest took place before the Special Mission and Annex attacks, which were unanticipated in their scale and intensity. 


2. Systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department resulted in a Special Mission security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place. Through the course of its inquiry, the Board interviewed over 100 individuals, reviewed thousands of pages of documents, and viewed hours of video footage. On the basis of its comprehensive review of this information, the Board remains fully convinced that responsibility for the tragic loss of life, injuries, and damage to U.S. facilities and property rests solely and completely with the terrorists who perpetrated the attack.

If there were no attacks there would be no deaths, however, the facility fell short from my point of view. Facility insufficiency is a KNOWN characteristic of danger to human life in the State Department. That aspect of our foreign service has a long history. 

The facility was housing fuel in barrels. It was set up for failure. If the barrels were in their own secure storage there would be no deaths due to smoke inhalation. Where there exist this level of rudimentary danger it is possible to make the facility safer. Was there danger of deaths without the unsecured fuel? Every indication is that the personnel had control over the safe room. The terrorists never opened the room or secured the Ambassador away from his security. I suppose there is a percent of chance the safe room was not sincerely safe without the smoke, as the smoke would drive off the terrorists as well, but that is complete speculation and the facts don't point to that potential. Communication with support forces was horrible. It is questionable whether local forces would ever respond to calls from the Ambassador. In that lies the greatest danger. The consulate staff was invested in additional support at the other end of a phone call. That support was never forthcoming. 

There is a real question about the efficacy of the foreign service that these deaths remind us. Should the foreign service be self-contained as are the recommendations within this report? Is the mission of the foreign service impacted by the idea of a mission that is a fortress? That is why the State Department was invested in hiring bodyguards. It protected the person who were invaluable beyond reason. The dedication of our foreign service is unquestionably perfect. They are beyond perfect. They cannot be replaced.

One of the aspects that cannot be ignored is what aspect of our fortification of our embassies and consulates actually turns into a liability to the purpose and outcomes of their mission? What can be done to tone down the fortifications without compromising safety of our personnel? 

Overriding Factors

This is not to say, however, that there are no lessons to be learned. A recurring theme throughout the Board’s work was one also touched upon by the Nairobi and Dar es Salaam ARBs in 1999. Simply put, in the months leading up to September 11, 2012, security in Benghazi was not recognized and implemented as a “shared responsibility” in Washington, resulting in stove-piped discussions and decisions on policy and security. Key decisions, such as the extension of the State Department presence in Benghazi until December 2012, or non-decisions in Washington, such as the failure to establish standards for Benghazi and to meet them, or the lack of a cohesive staffing plan, essentially set up Benghazi as a floating TDY platform with successive principal officers often confined to the SMC due to threats and inadequate resources, and RSOs resorting to field - expedient solutions to correct security shortfalls.

Part of the failure in Benghazi is the State Department culture. There is absolutely no doubt regarding that and yes it cropped up all throughout this report. Facilities have to be classified as high risk all the way down to no risk. There needs to be missions that clarify their involvement in building relationships with countries and what exactly that means to the facilities where we house our country's interest.

The State Department is primarily about communication and building relationships. There has always been an understanding some of the missions were not up to protecting the personnel, but, that aspect cannot exist in areas under control of the facility and the staff. The fuel barrels were one of those aspects. As a matter of fact they invited the imagination of people who would seek to kill Americans. So, there needs to be improvements in how the State Department assesses danger and how secure facilities are to eliminate that danger.

Communication, cooperation, and coordination between Washington, Tripoli, and Benghazi occurred collegially at the working-level but were constrained by a lack of transparency, responsiveness, and leadership at senior bureau levels. (This is culture and it's inability to move beyond itself.) 

I have to wonder if the State Department has a suggestion box. Seriously. I am sure there are many members of our personnel that have ideas about their working conditions and no one knows it. It would be completely inappropriate for the mission of the United States of America's foreign service to communicate well with sponsoring countries but the communication within the personnel compromised ideas and problem solving. Benghazi teaches 'out loud' how important reality is while hope should take a back seat. Should the hope exceed the ability of securing our personnel from danger?

The reason the efficacy issue has to be addressed is because our personnel are heroes before they start their first day of employment. They are vulnerable from the very aspect they are beginning a career they have longed for and educated for. Their own hopes and dreams for themselves compromises their safety. They care not for themselves enough to live within ? guidelines ? The efficacy has to be addressed so they live for another day for the rest of their lives. The late Ambassador Stevens was the USA in Benghazi. No one can replace him. He should not have disregarded the POTENTIAL for real danger that would end the mission of the USA in Libya.

The DS Bureau’s action officers who worked on Libya are to be commended for their efforts within DS and across the Department to provide additional security resources to Benghazi. Action officers in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs’ (NEA) Office of Maghreb Affairs and Executive Office showed similar dedication in collaborating on solutions with their DS counterparts and responding to TDY staffing demands. However, in DS, NEA, and at post, there appeared to be very real confusion over who, ultimately, was responsible and empowered to make decisions based on both policy and security considerations.

The DS Bureau showed a lack of proactive senior leadership with respect to Benghazi, failing to ensure that the priority security needs of a high risk, high threat post were met. At the same time, with attention in late 2011 shifting to growing crises in Egypt and Syria, the NEA Bureau’s front office showed a lack of ownership of Benghazi’s security issues, and a tendency to rely totally on DS for the latter. The Board also found that Embassy Tripoli leadership, saddled with their own staffing and security challenges, did not single out a special need for increased security for Benghazi.

The Late Ambassador Stevens was self contained. He is not at fault, but, his intellect could not reason all the ACTUAL danger away. He was immune to recognizing faults of those he sought his involvement. He only reflected the promise of the USA to improve the lives in Libya. That is what he was suppose to do, everything else was superfluous to him. He had access in his mission and he needed nothing else.

Further shortfalls in Washington coordination were manifested by the flawed process by which Special Mission Benghazi’s extension until the end of December 2012 was approved, a decision that did not take security considerations adequately into account. The result was the continuation of Special Mission Benghazi with an uncertain future and a one-year expiration date that made allocations of resources for security upgrades and personnel assignments difficult.

Another key driver behind the weak security platform in Benghazi was the decision to treat Benghazi as a temporary, residential facility, not officially notified to the host government, even though it was also a full time office facility. This resulted in the Special Mission compound being excepted from office facility standards and accountability under the Secure Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act of 1999 (SECCA) and the Overseas Security Policy Board (OSPB). Benghazi’s initial platform in November 2011 was far short of OSPB standards and remained so even in September 2012, despite multiple field-expedient upgrades funded by DS. (As a temporary, residential facility, SMC was not eligible for OBO-funded security upgrades.) A comprehensive upgrade and risk-mitigation plan did not exist, nor was a comprehensive security review conducted by Washington for Benghazi in 2012. The unique circumstances surrounding the creation of the mission in Benghazi as a temporary mission outside the realm of permanent diplomatic posts resulted in significant disconnects and support gaps.

Union membership relies on employment.

Employment divides along race lines where ABILITY is lacking due to social discrimination.

The Knights of Labor (click here) began as a secret society of tailors in Philadelphia in 1869. The organization grew slowly during the hard years of the 1870s, but worker militancy rose toward the end of the decade, especially after the great railroad strike of 1877, and the Knights’ membership rose with it. Grand Master Workman Terence V. Powderly took office in 1879, and under his leadership the Knights flourished; by 1886 the group had 700,000 members. Powderly dispensed with the earlier rules of secrecy and committed the organization to seeking the eight-hour day, abolition of child labor, equal pay for equal work, and political reforms including the graduated income tax....

... The Knights were also unusual in accepting workers of all skill levels and both sexes; blacks were included after 1883 (though in segregated locals). On the other hand, the Knights strongly supported the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Contract Labor Law of 1885; like many labor leaders at the time, Powderly believed these laws were needed to protect the American work force against competition from underpaid laborers imported by unscrupulous employers....

Unions didn't set up the rules of hatred, society did. Where African Americans had skills and were employed, there were unions.
Attacks on the Annex

Just before midnight, shortly after the DS and Annex security teams arrived from the SMC, the Annex began to be targeted by gunfire and RPGs, which continued intermittently for an hour. Annex security personnel engaged from their defensive positions, which were reinforced by DS agents. Other personnel remained in contact with Embassy Tripoli from the Annex.

The seven-person response team from Embassy Tripoli arrived in Benghazi to lend support. It arrived at the Annex about 0500 local. Less than fifteen minutes later, the Annex came under mortar and RPG attack, with five mortar rounds impacting close together in under 90 seconds. Three rounds hit the roof of an Annex building, killing security officers Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty. The attack also severely injured one ARSO and one Annex security team member. Annex, Tripoli, and ARSO security team members at other locations moved rapidly to provide combat first aid to the injured. At approximately 0630 local, all U.S. government personnel evacuated with support from a quasi-governmental Libyan militia. They arrived at the airport without incident. The DoD unarmed surveillance aircraft provided visual oversight during the evacuation. Embassy Tripoli lost communication with the convoy at one point during transit, but quickly regained it. Evacuees, including all wounded personnel, departed Benghazi on the chartered jet at approximately 0730 local. Embassy Tripoli staff, including the Embassy nurse, met the first evacuation flight at Tripoli International Airport. Wounded personnel were transferred to a local hospital, in exemplary coordination that helped save the lives of two severely injured Americans. 

Embassy Tripoli worked with the Libyan government to have a Libyan Air Force C-130 take the remaining U.S. government personnel from Benghazi to Tripoli. Two American citizen State Department contractors traveled to the airport and linked up with the remaining U.S. government personnel. While awaiting transport, the TDY RSO and Annex personnel continued to reach out to Libyan contacts to coordinate the transport of the presumed remains of Ambassador Stevens to the airport. The body was brought to the airport in what appeared to be a local ambulance at 0825 local, and the TDY RSO verified Ambassador Stevens’ identity. 

At 1130 local, September 12, 2012, the Libyan government-provided C-130 evacuation flight landed in Tripoli with the last U.S. government personnel from Benghazi and the remains of the four Americans killed, who were transported to a local hospital. 

In coordination with the State Department and Embassy Tripoli, the Department of Defense sent two U.S.Air Force planes (a C-17 and a C-130) from Germany to Tripoli to provide medical evacuation support for the wounded. At 1915 local on September 12, Embassy Tripoli evacuees, Benghazi personnel, and  those wounded in the attacks departed Tripoli on the C-17 aircraft, with military doctors and nurses aboard providing en route medical care to the injured. The aircraft arrived at Ramstein Air Force Base at approximately 2230 (Tripoli time) on September 12, just over 24 hours after the attacks in Benghazi had commenced. 

I will take a break then finish the review of "Findings and Discussions." That is the final ten pages of the report.

The safe area did what it was suppose to do. It proteted Ambassador Stevens except for the smoke.

Embassy Tripoli Response 

Upon notification of the attack from the TDY RSO around 2145 local, Embassy Tripoli set up a command center and notified Washington. About 2150 local, the DCM was able to reach Ambassador Stevens, who briefly reported that the SMC was under attack before the call cut off. The Embassy notified Benina Airbase in Benghazi of a potential need for logistic support and aircraft for extraction and received full cooperation. The DCM contacted the Libyan President and Prime Minister’s offices to urge them to mobilize a rescue effort, and kept Washington apprised of post’s efforts. The Embassy also reached out to Libyan Air Force and Armed Forces contacts, February 17 leadership, and UN and third country embassies, among others. Within hours, Embassy Tripoli chartered a private airplane and deployed a seven-person security team, which included two U.S. military personnel, to Benghazi.

February 17th was the liberation day of Libya (click here)

At the direction of the U.S. military’s Africa Command (AFRICOM), DoD moved a remotely piloted, unarmed surveillance aircraft which arrived over the SMC shortly before the DS team departed. A second remotely piloted, unarmed surveillance aircraft relieved the first, and monitored the eventual evacuation of personnel from the Annex to Benghazi airport later on the morning of September 1.

Uncertainty on Ambassador Stevens’ Whereabouts

He was found after the smoke lifted in the safe room with the cell phone he had been given.

U.S. efforts to determine Ambassador Stevens’ whereabouts were unsuccessful for several hours. At approximately 0200 local, Embassy Tripoli received a phone call from ARSO 1’s cell phone, which he had given to the Ambassador while they were sheltered in the safe area. A male, Arabic-speaking caller said an unresponsive male who matched the physical description of the Ambassador was at a hospital. There was confusion over which hospital this might be, and the caller was unable to provide a picture of the Ambassador or give any other proof that he was with him. There was some concern that the call might be a ruse to lure American personnel into a trap. With the Benghazi Medical Center (BMC) believed to be dangerous for American personnel due to the possibility attackers were being treated there, a Libyan contact of the Special Mission was dispatched to the BMC and later confirmed the Ambassador’s identity and that he was deceased.

BMC personnel would later report that at approximately 0115 local on September 12, an unidentified, unresponsive male foreigner subsequently identified as Ambassad0r Stevens was brought to the emergency room by six civilians. The identities of these civilians are unknown at the time of this report, but to the best knowledge of the Board these were “good Samaritans” among the hordes of looters and bystanders who descended up on the Special Mission after the DS and Annex teams departed. With the clearing of smoke, Ambassador Stevens’ rescuers found him within a room in the safe area of Villa C, did not know his identity, pulled him out through an egress window, and sought medical attention for him. Although the Ambassador did not show signs of life upon arrival at the BMC, doctors attempted to resuscitate him for some 45 minutes before declaring him deceased, by apparent smoke inhalation.

By the time the security team was prepared to leave there was one friendly militia group providing insight.

Second Phase, Attack on the Compound, Evacuation to the Annex

At the urging of the Annex security team and friendly militia members, who warned that the compound was at risk of being overrun, the TDY RSO and four ARSOs departed for the Annex without having found Ambassador Stevens. As the Annex team provided cover fire, the five DS agents’ fully armored vehicle departed and took hostile fire as they left the SMC and turned right out of the C1 entrance. The driver, ARSO 1, reversed direction to avoid a crowd farther down the street, then reverted back to the original easterly route towards the crowd after a man whom the DS agents believed to be with February 17 signaled them to do so. Farther ahead, another man in a small group of individuals then motioned to them to enter a neighboring compound, some 300 meters to the east of the C1 entrance of the Special Mission compound. The DS agents suspected a trap, ignored this signal, and continued past. The group along the route then opened fire at the vehicle’s side, shattering and almost penetrating the armored glass and blowing out two tires. While the identities of the individuals who fired upon the DS agents is unknown, they may have been part of the initial wave of attackers who swarmed the SMC earlier that night. A roadblock was present outside this compound and groups of attackers were seen entering it at about the time this vehicle movement was taking place.

ARSO 1 accelerated past the armed crowd and navigated around another crowd and roadblock near the end of the road, driving down the center median and into the oncoming lane at one point to bypass stopped traffic. Two cars followed, with one turning off and the other following them with its lights off until it turned into a warehouse area not far from the Annex. The DS vehicle then proceeded to the Annex, arriving around 2330 local. There the ARSOs joined Annex personnel and took up defensive positions, to await the Annex security and Tripoli response team. The situation was relatively quiet. Wounded personnel received medical support. Back at the SMC , the Annex security team at Villa C used small arms fire and took defensive positions to respond to an apparent second phase attack, which lasted about 15 minutes and included small arms fire and at least three rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) launched from outside the C3 gate. With their many and repeated attempts to retrieve the Ambassador having proven fruitless and militia members warning them the SMC could not be held much longer, the Annex team departed the SMC, carrying with them the body of IMO Smith. They arrived back at the Annex and moved to take up additional defensive positions.

Nothing short of heroic efforts while their local support members never materialized as planned.

Annex Responds, DS Agents Rally for Further Rescue Efforts

Just prior to receiving the TDY RSO’s distress call shortly after 2142 local, the head of Annex security heard multiple explosions coming from the north in the direction of the SMC. The Annex security head immediately began to organize his team’s departure and notified his superiors, who began to contact local security elements to request support. The Annex response team departed its compound in two vehicles at approximately 2205 local. The departure of the Annex team was not delayed by orders from superiors; the team leader decided on his own to depart the Annex compound once it was apparent, despite a brief delay to permit their continuing efforts, that rapid support from local security elements was not forthcoming.

While the TDY RSO continued to man the TOC and communicate with Tripoli, the Annex, and Washington, ARSO 2 used a smoke grenade to obscure his movements from the TOC to Villa B, where he joined ARSOs 3 and 4 who were barricaded inside. By this point, the first group of attackers appeared to have receded. The three ARSOs then drove an armored vehicle parked outside of the TOC to Villa C, where they assisted ARSO 1, who was in distress on the roof, vomiting from severe smoke inhalation and losing consciousness. ARSOs 2, 3,and 4 repeatedly entered Villa C through the egress window, at times crawling on their hands and knees through the safe area due to heavy smoke and the lack of air and visibility. 

Near the SMC, the Annex team hoped to bring along friendly forces from militia compounds located along their route. The Annex team stopped at the intersection to the west of the C1 entrance and attempted to convince militia members there to assist. There was periodic, ineffective small arms fire in the team’s location from the direction of the Special Mission. 

Unable to secure additional assistance, the team moved on to the SMC. The
February 17 living quarters and adjacent vehicles were burned, and heavy smoke was pouring out of the still smoldering Villa C. The Annex team made contact with the four ARSOs at Villa C. Some Annex team members went to retrieve the TDY RSO from the TOC, while other Annex team members joined the ARSOs in their search for the Ambassador. During their searches of the Villa C safe area, the ARSOs found and removed the body of IMO Smith with Annex security team assistance. The team checked for vital signs and verified that IMO Smith was already deceased, apparently due to smoke inhalation. Other Annex security team members and the TDY RSO joined up with the ARSOs again to enter Villa C via the egress window but were unable to locate Ambassador Stevens despite multiple attempts. Heat and smoke continued to be limiting factors in their ability to move farther into the safe area. When the TDY RSO attempted to enter Villa C through the front door, the ceiling collapsed. During these rescue attempts, an ARSO received a severe laceration to his arm.

They did what they had to do and successfully evaded detection, but, then came the fire.

Attack Continues, Use of Fire as a Weapon

Sometime between 2145 and 2200 local, armed intruders appear to have used filled fuel cans that were stored next to new, uninstalled generators at the February 17 living quarters near the C1 entrance to burn that building.  The crowd also lit on fire vehicles that were parked nearby. Members of the crowd then moved to Villa C In Villa C, ARSO 1, who was protecting Ambassador Stevens and IMO Smith in the safe area, heard intruders breaking through the Villa C front door. Men armed with AK rifles started to destroy the living room contents and then approached the safe area gate and started banging on it. ARSO 1 did not want to compromise their location in the safe area by engaging the intruders, and he warned the Ambassador and IMO Smith to prepare for the intruders to try to blast the safe area gate locks open. Instead the intruders departed, and the lights in Villa C appeared to dim. ARSO 1 realized that smoke from fires set inside the villa, away from his vantage point, was reducing the light and visibility. (There was no line of sight to Villa C from the Villa B/TOC compound where the TDY RSO and three ARSOs were barricaded. The TDY RSO in the TOC did not see smoke emerge on the view from the camera near Villa C until shortly after 2200 local.) 

As smoke engulfed the Villa C safe area, ARSO 1 led Ambassador Stevens and IMO Smith into a bathroom with an exterior window. All three crawled into the bathroom, while the thick, black smoke made breathing difficult and reduced visibility to zero. ARSO 1 tried to seal the door with towels and provide some ventilation by opening the window. Instead, opening the window worsened conditions and drew more smoke into the bathroom, making it even more difficult to breathe. ARSO 1 determined that they could no longer stay in the safe area and yelled to the others, whom he could no longer see, to follow him to an adjacent bedroom, where there was an egress window. ARSO 1 crawled on his hands and knees through a hallway to the bedroom, unable to see, while yelling and banging on the floor to guide the Ambassador and IMO Smith to safety. ARSO 1 opened the window grill and exited the building, collapsing onto a small, partly enclosed patio, at which point he believed he was being fired upon. Immediately following his exit, ARSO 1 realized the Ambassador and IMO had not followed him out the window. He then re-entered Villa C through the egress window several times to search for his colleagues while under fire by the intruders outside. He was unable to locate the Ambassador or IMO Smith, and severe heat and smoke forced him to exit the building to recover between each attempt. After several attempts, he climbed a ladder to the roof where he radioed the TOC for assistance and attempted unsuccessfully to ventilate the building by breaking a skylight. Due to severe smoke inhalation, however, ARSO 1 was almost unintelligible, but the TDY RSO and ARSO 2 in the TOC finally understood him to be saying that he did not have the Ambassador orIMO Smith with him.

While Villa C was under attack, armed individuals looted Villa B’s interior and attempted to enter the area where ARSOs 3 and 4 were barricaded. The intruders carried jerry cans and were seen on security cameras trying to dump them on vehicles outside the TOC, but they were apparently empty. A group of intruders also attempted unsuccessfully to break down the TOC entrance.
The Attack on the Special Mission Compound 
An SSC police vehicle, which had arrived at the main compound gate (C1) at 2102 local, departed at 2142. The Special Mission had requested that a marked SSC police car be posted outside of the compound 24/7, but in practice a car was there only intermittently. The Special Mission had requested this presence again, specifically for the duration of the Ambassador’s visit. A subsequent local press report quotes an SSC official as saying that he ordered the removal of the car “to prevent civilian casualties."
Around the same time, the TDY RSO working in the TOC heard shots and an explosion. He then saw via security camera dozens of individuals, many armed, begin to enter the compound through the main entrance at the C1 gate. He hit the duck and cover alarm and yelled a warning over the radio, and recalled no such warning from the February 17 or BML guards, who had already begun to flee to points south and east in the compound, towards the Villa B area. ARSOs 1 and 2 heard an attack warning from the BML guards passed on over the radio. The TDY RSO also alerted the Annex and Embassy Tripoli by cell phone.
The other three ARSOs behind Villa C also heard gunfire and explosions, as well as chanting, and responded immediately along with ARSO 4, who was inside Villa C. Following the SMC’s emergency plan, ARSO 1 entered Villa C to secure the Ambassador and IMO in the safe area and to retrieve his kit; ARSOs 2, 3, and 4 moved to retrieve their kits, which were located in Villa B and the TOC. ARSO 1 in Villa C swiftly located the Ambassador and IMO Smith, asked them to don body armor, and led them into the safe area in Villa C, which ARSO 1 secured. He then reported their whereabouts by radio to the TDY RSO in the TOC. ARSO 1, armed with an M4 rifle, shotgun and pistol, took up a defensive position inside the Villa C safe area, with line of sight to the safe area gate and out of view of potential intruders. ARSO 1 gave his cell phone to the Ambassador, who began making calls to local contacts and Embassy Tripoli requesting assistance. 
From Villa C, ARSO 4 ran to his sleeping quarters in Villa B to retrieve his kit, while ARSOs 2 and 3 ran to the TOC, where ARSO 3 had last seen the Ambassador, and where ARSO 2’s kit was located. (ARSO 2’s sleeping quarters were in the TOC, making him the designated “TOC Officer” in their emergency react plan.) ARSO 3, upon not finding the Ambassador in the TOC, ran to Villa B to get his kit; ARSO 2 remained in the TOC with the TDY RSO and shared notification and communication duties with him. At Villa B, ARSO 3 encountered ARSO 4, who was also arming and equipping himself, and the two then attempted to return to Villa C. They turned back, however, after seeing many armed intruders blocking the alley between Villas B and C. ARSOs 3 and 4, outnumbered and outgunned by the armed intruders in the alley, returned to Villa B and barricaded themselves in a back room, along with one LGF member whom they had encountered outside Villa B.
Everyone was doing what they had to do and perceived danger as more than they could handle. They were defensive.

Everyone was doing what they were suppose to be doing.

Security Environment on September 11, Preceding Attacks 

In consultation with the TDY RSO and mindful of the threat environment and the September 11 anniversary, Ambassador Stevens did not leave the SMC on September 11, but rather held meetings there. At approximately 0645 local that morning, a BML contract guard saw an unknown individual in a Libyan Supreme Security Council (SSC) police uniform apparently taking photos of the compound villas with a cell phone from the second floor of a building under construction across the street to the north of the SMC. The individual was reportedly stopped by BML guards, denied any wrongdoing, and departed in a police car with two others. This was reported to ARSOs 1 and 2. Later that morning they inspected the area where the individual was seen standing and informed the Annex of the incident. There had not been any related threat reporting. The local February 17 militia headquarters was informed of the incident and reportedly complained to the local SSC on the Special Mission’s behalf. The Ambassador reviewed a Special Mission-drafted complaint to local authorities on the surveillance incident; however, it was not submitted due to the typically early closure of  Libyan government offices. Later on September 11, the Ambassador was informed by his Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) in Tripoli of the breach of the Embassy Cairo compound that had occurred that day and briefly discussed the news with ARSO 3. The TDY RSO was also informed of the Cairo compound breach by his Regional Security Officer counterpart in Tripoli and shared the information with colleagues at the Annex.

At approximately 1940 local, Ambassador Stevens and an accompanying ARSO escorted a Turkish diplomat to the SMC’s main exit at the north C1 gate, where nothing out of the ordinary was noted. Some 30 minutes later, between 2010 and 2030 local, a UK security team supporting a day visit by British diplomats dropped off vehicles and equipment at the SMC (per arrangements made after the UK diplomatic office in Benghazi suspended operations in June 2012). When the UK security team departed via the C1 gate at about 2030 local, there were no signs of anything unusual, including no roadblocks outside of the compound, and traffic flowed normally.

Ambassador Stevens and IMO Sean Smith retired for the night to Villa C at about 2100 local, while ARSO 4 watched a video in the Villa C common space. ARSOs 1, 2, and 3 were sitting together outside and behind Villa C; the TDY RSO was working in the work space building referred to as the “Office” or “TOC” (Tactical Operations Center), near the Villa B compound, which was connected to the Villa C compound by an alleyway. From the TOC, the TDY RSO could monitor a series of security cameras placed in and around the perimeter of the SMC. The ARSOs were each armed with their standard issue sidearm pistol; their “kits,” generally consisting of body armor, radio and an M4 rifle, were in their bedroom/sleeping areas, in accord with Special Mission practice.
September 11-12, 2012
 (All times are best estimates based on existing data and should be considered approximate.) 
The Prelude – the Ambassador’s Arrival

Ambassador Chris Stevens arrived in Benghazi, Libya on September 10, 2012, accompanied by two temporary duty (TDY) Assistant Regional Security Officers (ARSOs) from Tripoli. It was the Ambassador’s first visit to Benghazi since he departed as then - Special Envoy in November 2011. With the Ambassador’s arrival, there were eight Americans at the Special Mission compound (SMC)on September 10 - 11, 2012, including the Ambassador; Information Management Officer (IMO) Sean Smith, who arrived in Benghazi one week earlier to provide TDY communications and management support; and five Diplomatic Security (DS) agents (three assigned on short-term TDY to Benghazi “TDY RSO”, “ARSO 1” and “ARSO 2”– and the two who traveled from Tripolito provide protection for the Ambassador during his visit–“ARSO 3” and “ARSO4”). The eighth American, the TDY Benghazi principal officer,completed his 13-day assignment and returned to his full-time job in Tripoli the morning of September 11, leaving seven Americans at the compound. Ambassador Stevens was scheduled to remain in Benghazi until September 14, and his visit was timed in part to fill the staffing gaps between TDY principal officers as well as to open an American Corner at a local school and to reconnect with local contacts.

I hope everyone got that part. The late Ambassador Stevens came to Benghazi to fill in staffing gaps. He is on foreign soil and his consulate in Benghazi has staffing issues. Amazing. And today politically it is the former Secretary's lack of foresight to see the attack coming in failing to add more staff to protect the Ambassador. This is not the failing of the State Department, this is the gross incompetence of the USA Congress to appreciate the lives of their own personnel in service to the USA. Where are the hearings on budget cuts that completely compromised the security of our USA State Department?

In the absence of an effective central government security presence, the Special Mission’s Libyan security contingent was composed of four armed members of the February 17 Martyrs’ Brigade (February 17)–a local umbrella organization of militias dominant in Benghazi (some of which were Islamist) and loosely affiliated with the Libyan government, but not under its control. 

The militia members were being paid for their services. They were loosely contracted. But, if they decided one day that their interests were best serving their own priorities they would move off the job. To put it in American terms, the were 'Day Labor' with guns.

They resided in a guest house building on compound. Normally four members resided on the Special Mission compound near the front gate, but on September 11 one had been absent for several days, reportedly due to a family illness

More than likely his anticipated illness and service instead to secure his family.

The Special Mission also had an unarmed, contract local guard force (LGF), Blue Mountain Libya (BML), which provided five guards per eight-hour shift, 24/7, to open and close the gates, patrol the compound, and give warning in case of an attack. After the Ambassador’s arrival at the Special Mission on September 10, ARSO 1 gave the Ambassador a tour of the SMC and pointed out the safe area and escape hatch windows in the Ambassador’s room in Villa C. Later that afternoon, the Ambassador visited the Annex for a briefing. He then met with the City Council at a local hotel for dinner, an event at which local media invited by the Council showed up unexpectedly, despite U.S. efforts to keep the Ambassador’s program and movements from being publicized.