Libya suspects the same thing the White House does: that the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi was indeed a militant strike timed with the 9/11 anniversary, a Libyan official said today. He also confirmed the attack came in two parts: First, on the consulate—using protests against an anti-Islam film as cover—then, as security forces evacuated staff to a nearby annex (supposedly a secret safe house) a second raid on that house followed, in which two more Americans were killed. A US lawmaker gave basically the same account to Fox News yesterday.
Politico reports that the consulate, where Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed, is just an interim facility and was not protected by Marines—who do typically guard embassies, and who are indeed posted at the US Embassy in Libya's capital, Tripoli. As such, the building had fewer security measures than embassies typically have: no bulletproof glass or reinforced doors. In related news:
- Foreign Policy reports that Cairo senior public affairs officer Larry Schwartz was responsible for the controversial US statement that Romney and others immediately jumped on. He wrote the release—and he oversees the embassy's Twitter feed, which continued to defend the statement as criticism came in—and he posted it as-is even though the State Department asked for changes. "The statement was not cleared with anyone in Washington," an official says, and the White House wasn't happy with it from the get-go.
- But Romney was also roundly criticized for his response to the statement—and Daily Intel reports that, in an original version of a New York Times story posted online last night, a Romney campaign adviser even slammed Mitt. The presidential contender forgot "the first rule in a crisis: Don't start talking before you understand what's happening," the adviser said, but the juicy quote had been pulled by this morning.
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