Within the U.S. Department of State, there is an office known as the OpCenter. It is located in the office of the secretary of state and is staffed around the clock (24/7) by seasoned foreign service officers.
The OpCenter has direct lines of communication to all American missions around the world.
Its function is to be sensitive to any threat to American interests wherever they might arise. The OpCenter has direct secure communication lines to the White House Situation Room, the National Military Command Center at the Pentagon and the CIAís OpCenter.
Having worked as a watch officer at the OpCenter, I know that any information that indicates a threat to the safety of American citizens overseas is passed on to the other agencies mentioned above.
If a significant message concerning American interests is received, it is the watch officerís job to ensure these other agencies are informed. Communications from the U.S. embassy in Tripoli and the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, and earlier, would have been passed on instantly.
My point is the White House and the president, through the Situation Room, are provided meaningful information on world events on a continuing basis.
There can be no doubt that all messages emanating from Benghazi and Tripoli on the invasion of American grounds and the murder of our four dedicated Americans, including an ambassador, were received by the White House as they were transmitted.
It is reasonable to assume President Obamaís director of national intelligence, James Clapper, read these messages in the Situation Room, particularly because of the hostile climate that existed in Libya.
Chris Stevens was a good old-school diplomat. He reached out to local people honestly and they accepted him personally.
I commend him for doing the tough job of availing himself to the people of Libya and elsewhere where he served. Thatís the job of an effective diplomat.
We lost one of our best.
There are many questions that need to be answered.
First and foremost, what was going on in Washington while our consulate was under attack?
Why the delay in labeling the attack as terrorism, when it was immediately known thatís what it was?
September 11 is the anniversary of the disastrous events of 9/11/01. Chris Stevens was ambassador to Libya based at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, protected by U.S. Marine guards. What was so important that he needed to be in Benghazi on such an infamous anniversary, with our consulate so inadequately protected?
Why werenít Marine guards posted in Benghazi in the first place?
In such a tumultuous environment, why did the state department refuse requests to enhance security at our consulate?
Given prior threats, why did the state department allow Amb. Stevens to proceed to Benghazi at that particular time?
When an ambassador moves about, away from the embassy, the state department is always informed and is responsible for raising questions if there are perceived problems.
This also points to an abysmal lapse in management that caused a fatal breach in a trust that all diplomats hold Washington accountable in supporting them when on a mission representing the president and the United States.
William J. Boudreau
Foreign Service Officer (Retired)
Cobby Creek Lane