The events in Benghazi are in a way an all too fitting counterpart to the gun control debate today. Heavily armed Islamist militias prowled Benghazi and Libya and intimidating national and local governments that were either sympathetic to them or too afraid to fight them. The United States however faced firearms permits barriers, because Uncle Sam insists on following the law, even when the real law is a state of lawlessness.
Nordstrom worked as the State Department’s Regional Security Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, from Sept. 21, 2011 until July 26, 2012. On March 28, 2012, he sent a memo from Tripoli to the State Department in Washington, D.C., outlining what he believed to be some of the department’s security needs in Libya.
The department had hired a contractor to provide local security personnel in Benghazi, and, according to Nordstrom, the Libyans hired by this contractor were only able to obtain temporary “firearms permits” when senior U.S. officials came to Benghazi for short-term visits.
“Although an LGF [local guard force] contractor has begun operations in Benghazi, initial discussions regarding contractor-provided armed close protection/movement support does not appear viable based on complications regarding GOL [Government of Libya] firearms permits,” wrote Nordstrom in a memo that the State Department released to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “Currently, the LGF contractor is able to obtain only short-term (48-72 hr) firearms permits for specific VIP visits.”
More than three months later, in a July 9, 2012 memo to from Tripoli to Washington, Nordstrom said that the government of Libya had “hindered” U.S. security efforts by delaying firearms permits.
And it wouldn’t have hurt that the Muslim Brotherhood, which was making money providing security to Benghazi, had more influence in the Libyan Government than Stevens did.