Commentary Magazine


Why Did We Abandon Benghazi Compound?

Yet more amazing revelations continue to emerge about the Benghazi attack.

Foreign Policy magazine has a story on its website by two Dubai-based Arabic TV reporters who visited the site of the former U.S. consulate on Oct. 26 and found important documents lying around that were left behind by an FBI team that visited a month ago. These included a document claiming that on the morning of September 11 one of the consulate security guards spied a police officer charged with guarding the compound photographing it instead. Sean Smith, one of the slain diplomats, wrote hours just before his death in an online forum: “Assuming we don’t die tonight. We saw one of our ‘police’ that guard the compound taking pictures.”

This raises obvious questions as to whether these concerns were communicated to State Department superiors and Africa Command; and if they were, why wasn’t more done in response?

The larger question that is raised here is why the U.S. has abandoned this diplomatic outpost, so that anyone–whether reporters or civilians, friends or foes of the United States–can rummage through its rubble. The jihadists who attacked our consulate were surely hoping to drive us out of Benghazi, and they have now accomplished this purpose. I am at a loss to know why marines were not sent to secure the site of the compound and why efforts have not been made to rebuild. This is yet another failure that gives the people of the Middle East an impression of American retreat.