“Overall, the number of Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) security staff in Benghazi on the day of the attack and in the months and weeks leading up to it was inadequate, despite repeated requests from Special Mission Benghazi and Embassy Tripoli for additional staffing. Board members found a pervasive realization among personnel who served in Benghazi that the Special Mission was not a high priority for Washington when it came to security-related requests, especially those relating to staffing.” – State Department’s After Action Report

Although the media has repeatedly referred to the compound that Ambassador Stevens was staying in the night of the 9/11/12 attack as a “consulate” the State Department actually designated it a Temporary Mission Facility. For the sake of clarity we will continue to call the compound a consulate, or just compound, since it served a similar purpose and readers are already accustomed to the term.

(The key difference between an actual consulate and a Temporary Mission Facility is that a consulate is well established and serves as a miniature embassy that can conduct diplomatic services in other parts of the country whereas the Temporary Mission Facility was something set up on a much more ad hoc basis and not given the same level of support.)

In the run up to the attack there were multiple indicators that threats exists against the consulate in Benghazi. As noted previously, Ambassador Stevens was well aware of the jihadist threat in Libya. The Regional Security Office in Tripoli also, “compiled a list of 234 security incidents in Libya between June 2011 and July 2012, 50 of which took place in Benghazi.”

It was clear from both classified intelligence reports and open source information that there was an escalating threat to Western targets in Libya as the Jihadist presence became more pervasive in Eastern Libya. The Senate’s “Flashing Red” report points to four particularly important incidents which should have served as warning signs in the run up to the attack:

On May 22, 2012, the International Committee for the Red Cross/Red Crescent (ICRC) building in Benghazi was hit by two RPG rounds, causing damage to the building but no casualties. Several days later, the Brigades of the Imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman claimed responsibility for this attack, accusing the ICRC of proselytizing in Libya.

On June 6, 2012, the U.S. Temporary Mission Facility [referred to as a consulate in most media reports] in Benghazi was targeted by an IED attack that blew a hole in the perimeter wall. Credit for this attack was also claimed by the Brigades of the Imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, which said it carried out the attack in response to the reported drone strike on al Qaeda leader Abu Yahya al-Libi in Northern Waziristan.

On June 11, 2012, an attack was carried out in Benghazi on the convoy of the British Ambassador to Libya. Attackers fired an RPG on the convoy, followed by small arms fire. Two British bodyguards were injured in the attack. This attack was characterized afterwards in an incident report by the Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security as a “complex, coordinated attack.”