CBS reported earlier today that members of the Libyan security detail hired by the U.S. tipped off rioters about the location of the U.S. ambassador, who had apparently been moved from the consulate to a “safer” building (h/t Ed Morrissey) — an extremely troubling detail by itself. But Breitbart’s Michael Patrick Leahy also adds that the ambassador was being guarded solely by Libyan nationals, and the two Marines who were killed were only sent in after the violence broke out:
Security at the consulate was apparently provided by Libyan nationals hired by the United States. While security for American embassies is typically provided by our own Marines, the two Marines reported killed in yesterday’s attacks appear not to have been stationed at the embassy, but were sent there from another unknown location as the violence erupted. There is also no indication if these two Marines were the only American military personnel on site at the time of Ambassador Stevens’s death.
All reports indicate that the security forces at the consulate were overwhelmed by the size of the militant crowds and offered no resistance as they stormed the building, looted it, and killed the four Americans.
As the facts surrounding the destruction of the American consulate and death of Ambassador Stevens become known, investigators will focus on these questions: Did the State Department provide adequate security for our embassy staff there? If not, why not?
And finally, the most important question of all: Where were the Marines?
This isn’t the first recent example of a breakdown in State Department security. The attack in Libya came just one week after the suicide bombing of a U.S. consulate vehicle in Pakistan, which was rammed with a car packed with explosives as it drove through a residential area in Peshawar. The New York Times reported at the time:
A suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into a sport utility vehicle belonging to the United States Consulate in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Monday morning, Pakistani and American officials said, in one of the most brazen attacks against Americans in the country in recent years.
There were conflicting reports about the number and nationality of the casualties. Pakistani officials said that at least two people were killed by the blast and at least 13 were injured, including two police officers. The United States Embassy in Islamabad confirmed the attack and said in a statement that two Americans and two Pakistani employees of the consulate were injured. It denied early reports that an American had been killed.
How did a suicide bomber find out where the American consulate vehicle would be at the time? Was he tipped off by security — the same way a mob of violent fanatics reportedly discovered the location of the U.S. ambassador to Libya?
Either these are just unfortunate coincidences of timing, or they point to a more fundamental problem with State Department security. The department is entrusted to keep American officials safe abroad, and the past two weeks do not engender confidence.