Insiders: Benghazi Attack Opportunistic, Not Coordinated

AP Images – courtesy of Business Insiders.com

Typically this blog focuses on military families and veterans and what affects  their daily lives. The turmoil in Libya may seem less family focused and more like world news of the moment.

However, I came across an article, “Insiders Tell Us What Really Happened in  Libya,” that I wanted to share. It seems appropriate with Marines on their way to Libya to protect the embassy and with State Department personnel at risk throughout the region.

First, the article dispels the theory that it was a coordinated attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi:

Fox News reported earlier that “current and former U.S. lawmakers, and others, claimed Wednesday that the attack looked like a coordinated strike.” Sure there was plenty of strong language coming from American political or intelligence figures, but Matt maintains that that is largely to save face.

“Also, other reporters are playing up Anti-American sentiment, but that’s not true either, Libyans like Americans, because they helped. Even some of the extreme islamists of the past have given up violence.”

The article by Geoffery Ingersoll begins by talking to journalist and analyst on Libya Matt VanDyke:

“It’s really simple how it happened. First there was the video, that no one would have known about if it weren’t for the Egyptian media blowing it up. Then people protested in Cairo, and people in Libya saw it on TV, so they decided to protest in Benghazi.”

From there, Matt said, all it took was a few phone calls.

“The people up in the green mountains, the extremists, they saw their opportunity to pounce.”

Matt said the protestors probably had no intent to get violent.

“The extremists, who the government knew was there, they used the protestors as a shield. I’ve experienced how quickly the mobilization can happen firsthand. All it takes is a couple cell phones. All of sudden there’s a handful of trucks packed with fighters.”

Ingersoll goes on in his “insiders” story to cite a member with the Department of State who he identified only as “John.” He wrote that U.S. diplomatic officials understood the risk but were willing to take it for the potential payoff:

In the past, the U.S. would simply close embassies in times of transition, but in this region things are different. American foreign policy in the region hinges on good relations with incoming, or newly forming government bodies.Maintaining that influence also means issuing a certain amount of “trust” currency. Therein lies the risk.

“Really it’s an abysmal failing their behalf. We expect reciprocal protection, just as we give their dignitaries here. You know, the NYPD doesn’t actively protect embassies, but if a riot or protest started in front of one, they’d be out there breaking it up. But they’re unstable as a whole, there’s no real government there.”

As a part of that trust, the U.S. can’t send in thousands of troops to fill in the cracks, so to speak. It also can’t go throwing around deadly force.

You can read the full “insiders” account of the attack in Libya at BusinessInsider.com.
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“Restrepo” Airs Monday Night on National Geographic

Tonight, 25 April 2011, the National Geographic Channel will broadcast “Restrepo,” a documentary that chronicles the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. The movie and outpost, “Restrepo,” are named after a platoon medic who was killed in action.

Tim Hetherington, one of the documentary film producers, directors and cameramen, was killed recently covering the conflict in Libya.

Billed as One Platoon, One Valley, One Year, you can learn more about the men here.

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