The more of a look we get at the situation in Benghazi, the more we can see the basic failures in the chain of command that allowed this to happen.
1. The Benghazi consulate was apparently a temporary site set up during the US backed rebellion against Gaddafi, possibly to coordinate with local rebels, and had no real security, just a fallback safe house, which was not all that much more secure.
The common drive of Islamist and non-Islamist rebels to remove Gaddafi and the crucial US role in coordinating with them would have been enough to keep the consulate secure during the rebellion, but once the rebellion ended maintaining this kind of facility was clearly a bad idea and it should have either been abandoned or replaced with a properly fortified facility. The State Department wastes fortunes on all sorts of ridiculous projects, if they had, for whatever reason, wanted to continue maintaining a Benghazi facility, they should have kept staff out until it was reinforced.
2. Benghazi is a flash point in the ongoing Libyan civil war, it was not safe or secure by any stretch of the imagination. There was ongoing violence and regular shootings, including the use of heavy weaponry.
The lack of Marine guards was likely due to the feeling that they would be provocative, but this was clearly the kind of “soft power” thinking that has gotten Obama into trouble before. Local security proved to be completely useless and inept in the face of a real assault and the consulate had no fallback plan beyond a safe house.
Had Al Qaeda chosen to launch the kind of truck bombing that they had carried out elsewhere in Africa the casualties would have been far worse.
3. Government security forces had been infiltrated by Islamists, even members of the Libyan government had and have admitted it in the past. The Safe House was exposed by Libyan security forces, which is why they should have never have been given that information at all. But that did not appear to concern anyone in the loop, even though it was widely known beforehand. Did the Consulate think that the security forces that turned on Libyan Sufis would be any better when it came to them?
The unfortunate conclusion that has to be drawn from all this is that in all three instances, pandering to Islamists helped lead to the consulate attack. The consulate should not have remained in Benghazi with poor security relying on local goodwill. Islamists have no goodwill to rely on. Not once their short term goals have been met.
The State Department’s approach to the Benghazi consulate seemed to be more concerned with offending Islamists by building up a fortified consulate and using Marines for security, than with implementing actual security measures to protect its staff. And those security measures should have taken into account the Islamist presence in the Libyan security forces, rather than assuming that those forces were still friendly.
The failure to anticipate Islamist hostility and the assumption that Islamist hostility could be warded off with a low profile and soft power led to the Benghazi Consulate being seen as a soft target. And the attack naturally followed.