Monday, May 13, 2013

Can we learn anything from Republican accusations about Benghazi?

Serious concerns or political posturing?
Like Mitt Romney before them, Republicans in Congress would like to turn the deaths of four Americans serving their country in Benghazi, Libya into fuel to burn the Democrats in the next election.

Despite the public statements of Darrell Issa that Republicans are not targeting President Obama or Hilary Clinton, the outrage of Republicans is aimed at the so-called "cover-up" which the Republicans claim that the Obama administration is pursuing and not in finding ways to prevent such a tragedy in the future.

Presented below is a brief description of the Benghazi incidents at the US diplomatic offices and the CIA annex.  Perhaps we can learn from this information to focus on prevention and escape the disgraceful accusations that Republicans are making for political gain, at least for a little while.  I have highlighted in red font any sections that we might learn from for later discussion.  

There were about seven Americans in the US diplomatic offices in Benghazi, Libya when 125 to 150  armed terrorists attacked the building on the evening of September 11, 2012 around 9:40PM local time.  That night four Americans would die.

A Diplomatic Security Service Agent sounded the alarm that an attack was underway.  DSS special agent Scott Strickland secured Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith, an information management  officer, into a secure area.  Other agents left for another building to retrieve their weapons but could not return because of enemy gun fire.
Benghazi Consulate

The attackers entered the main building and set fires with gasoline.  The thick smoke made Stevens, Smith and Strickland move to a bathroom but the smoke made them decide to exit the safe area.  Strickland left through a window but Stevens and Smith did not follow.  Although Strickland returned several times he could not find them.  Strickland returned to the roof where he radioed for help.

Three agents returned to the building and found Smith's body but could not find Stevens.

The Regional Security Office placed calls for help to the CIA building in Benghazi and the embassy in Tripoli but the calls were cut off.  The Global Response Staff at the CIA office, led by Tyrone S. Woods, made a plan to mount a rescue operation into the Benghazi diplomatic compound.  By 10:05 PM they embarked on the rescue operation.

When arriving at the diplomatic offices, the rescue team found Sean Smith who was unconscious and later died.  They could not find Stevens and decided to return to the CIA annex with the survivors and Smith's body.  On the way back they were attacked by an armed force but were able to make it back.

Around 1:00  AM Ambassador Stevens was found by local citizens and taken to a hospital where he was administered CPR for about 90 minutes but died from smoke asphyxiation he incurred while trapped in the building.

After midnight, a second attack on the CIA annex began.  CIA defenses were able to withstand the attack until the early morning hours.  At that time Libyan government forces met up with seven American reinforcements from Tripoli at Benghazi airport.

Around 5:00AM the Libyans and American forces arrived at the CIA annex to deliver 32 American  survivors back to evacuate through Benghazi airport.  Minutes after arriving, they were met with heavy enemy fire.  They took up defensive positions.

With a lull in the gun fire, Glen Doherty began searching for his friend Tyrone Woods.  He found him manning an MK46 machine gun on the roof of the annex.  Minutes later Woods was hit by mortar fire and killed.  After retaking a new position Glen Doherty was killed by a second mortar explosion.  

The remaining survivors escaped serious injury although fired upon while leaving as they were being evacuated to the airport.

The CIA had successfully rescued six members of the State Department, evacuated about thirty Americans out of Benghazi and recovered Smith's body.

Some sensitive documents remained in the diplomatic offices.  Some listed the names of Libyans working with Americans and some relating to oil contracts.

Here are some quick and easy things I think I have learned from this.

Agents that might have helped Stevens and Smith left the building where Steven's was hiding in order to get their weapons which were stored in a separate building.  My learning:  US embassies and diplomatic buildings should have a mini-arsenal conveniently located in each building where personnel are located.

The attackers entered the building and set fires.  These fires were apparently not put out by any fire extinguishers or automatic sprinkler systems in the buildings.  My learning:  US Embassy and diplomatic buildings should all be built with fire sprinkler systems.

Stevens and Smith were overcome by smoke inhalation.  There were no respirators or air supply lines in the safe area.  My learning: American Embassy and Diplomatic building safe areas should all be stocked with respirators and self-contained oxygen supplying units as standard safety equipment.

Sensitive documents were left behind.  This may endanger some of the allies of America.  My learning: Sensitive documents should be scanned and stored on computer storage devices and then destroyed.  The storage devices should be stored in specially constructed file cabinets that can safely self destruct at the push of a button.

These things would all cost money, so the Republicans in Congress will probably block any such ideas as they did once already.  People should not forget that it was the Republicans who denied the State Department $300 million in order to beef up Embassy security around the world.  This should also be a lesson learned: Republicans in Congress are willing to put American heroes in harms way and then when the inevitable worst thing happens, they are the first to point fingers away from themselves.

Of course, there may be other lessons to be learned from the attack on the diplomatic buildings and CIA annex in Benghazi, but trying to place blame on the Obama administration for the attack or for a cover-up serves no good purpose for America.  But then Republicans have demonstrated over and over, that they are the party that stands for no good purpose.

Republicans have proven that they hate this President with all their thoughts, words and deeds.  They are willing to push this story for any damage it can do and will insist that there is a link directly to the President, even when the facts prove otherwise.


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