Our Vulnerable Embassies: The U.S. must make clear that future attacks will carry the highest price.
On Tuesday of this week, demonstrators waving al-Qaida flags stormed the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, removed the American flag from its pole, and set it on fire. At roughly the same time, a terrorist cell attacked the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and assassinated U.S. ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three of his senior staff members. The embassy in Yemen was breached the next day. In the wake of all this, the biggest question isn’t what Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, and Barack Obama should say on TV. The most important question is: why weren’t our diplomats able to defend themselves and the overseas property of the United States?
U.S. embassies usually have Marines on hand for protection, but the only security at the Benghazi consulate was provided by Libyans. As for the security detail at the Cairo embassy, according to Nightwatch, several U.S. Marine Corps bloggers claim that Anne Patterson, the U.S. ambassador to Egypt, wouldn’t allow them to carry live ammunition. “She neutralized any U.S. military capability that was dedicated to preserve her life and protect the U.S. Embassy,” they wrote. “She neutered the Marines posted to defend the embassy, trusting the Egyptians over the Marines.”