(CNSNews.com) – The gun control policies of the post-Gaddafi government in Libya delayed the arming of bodyguards for U.S. diplomats in that country and left the local guard force hired to watch over the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi unarmed, according to internal State Department memos and written testimony by the State Department officer who was in charge of the department’s security in Libya until six weeks before the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attacks.
“Our long term security plan in Libya was to recruit and deploy an armed, locally hired Libyan bodyguard unit,” State Department Regional Security Officer Eric Nordstrom told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in written testimony.
“However, because of Libyan political sensitivities, armed private security companies were not allowed to operate in Libya,” Nordstrom said in his testimony submitted on Oct. 10. “Therefore, our existing, uniformed static local guard force, both in Tripoli and Benghazi were unarmed, similar to our static local guard forces at many posts around the world. Their job was to observe, report, and alert armed host nation security, and armed DS agents on-site.”
The State Department hired Libyan nationals to carry out two types of security jobs in that country. One set acted as bodyguards for diplomatic personnel when they travelled outside the State Department’s facilities. The other acted as a “static local guard force” to man the gates and watch over U.S. diplomatic compounds.
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.
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- New U.S. charge d’affaires lands in Libya (upi.com)
- In Libya: Why the Benghazi Investigation is Going Nowhere (world.time.com)
- Eastern Libya Devolving Into Chaos (lezgetreal.com)
- Isn’t this Grant? State Dept. warns against travel to Libya…. Isn’t this the Democracy they wanted? (libyaagainstsuperpowermedia.com)
- Clinton Publicly Linked Benghazi to Video Before Woods and Doherty Were Killed (cnsnews.com)
- Senate Report Raises Benghazi Questions (commentarymagazine.com)