from: Dave Dlouhy
Let me share my experience with you. I want to be very cautious in trying to convey something to you. It needs a bit of reflection. I knew Chris Stevens. We are fellow Foreign Service Officers. I am now retired after 34 years of service. I served in three high threat posts: El Salvador during the war, Bosnia just after the war, and running the drug war in Bolivia. For six years I lived 24/7 with bodyguards protecting me from very real threats. For three years I had the honor of representing you as Charge/Acting US Ambassador.
In that role, Ambassadors do not report in-country travel to the Department, nor do they ask permission. They do so only when they leave the country.
Intelligence on threats flows from the Embassy to the Department, not vice versa. The Ambassador is the first to know.
Marines are not bodyguards. They protect facilities and classified. The Regional Security Officer and staff are the bodyguards and supervise local protection employees and staff. The RSO reviews the Ambassador’s movements, but the final decision to travel is made by the Ambassador.
Decisions on levels of protection and resources are made by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security in coordination with multiple agencies (CIA, NSA, DOD, DIA). An Ambassador is aware of the threat – and the resources deployed to address that threat – before any move in country.
There is no US Consulate in Benghazi. The Embassy is in Tripoli. There are two US sites in Benghazi. Both were attacked. One is a CIA safehouse. The other is the US Department of State Operational Support Base – the office we used to support the rebels during the revolution. That is why the facility was not constructed to US security standards. Both were ”black” sites.
Chris Stevens decided he needed to go to Benghazi. For whatever reason, and on the days that he went. He did not ask permission, nor did he inform the Department, ie, Secretary Clinton. Chris was aware of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s response to his security requests. Chris had reported on the threat and threat environment prevailing the date of his death. Chris decided to go to Benghazi. It was his decision.
Groupthink interpretation led many community analysts to view the violence in Libya as copycat of violence in Cairo. The mob attack was not perceived initially as a coordinated terrorist strike, but was quickly characterized so. But spinning out of a mob.
Hours before the attack, Chris was out walking in the streets, as he was accustomed to doing. That is to say, not only did he make the call to go to Benghazi, he did not see a threat and requirement for higher levels of protection.
Chris died. And we grieve. It is a disservice to his memory to politicize his death. He would be the first to take responsibility for his decisions. He would not seek to place blame, or make a partisan issue of it. He was a remarkable US diplomat. Those of us who have served in war zones understand the risk we take. We accept the responsibility for our decisions. Outcomes are our responsibility. Colleagues in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security are being made the fall guys for supposedly bad decisions. That is unfair. It does not matter what decision they made. You operate in the context of those decisions. If security was inadequate, then you do not travel. If additional precautions need to be taken, you do so. But, you do not blame others. Most assuredly, you do not blame Hillary Clinton. Chris, a friend of Senator McCain, would most certainly be appalled and the first to object. Let us honor his memory by being true to the man of integrity and patriot that he was. Chris, a friend of Senator McCain, would most certainly be appalled and the first to object. Let us honor his memory by being true to the man of integrity and patriot that he was.