Do some real research first

Everyone bothered by Benghazi would do well to take a step back and apply their K-12 education before asking silly questions or ranting like puppets (see recent letters and C. Krauthammer’s column).

That is, before getting emotional or spewing questions into the ether, ask yourself what you know about embassy and consulate operations in general. Then ask yourself what you know about Libya, its citizens, its tribal politics, and how those affect Libyan security hired to protect US consular staff and property.

My bet is you don’t know anything about embassy and consulate operations. I didn’t know much even after years of overseas travel and minor interactions with consuls. Then I contracted to work for USAID out of our consulate in Mogadishu (a site very much akin to Benghazi). And, my fellow ordinary, honest, trusting Americans, my eyes were opened first-hand to the hidden, illegal, deadly, on-going activities carried out in our names via embassies and consulates. Research or personal experience could open your eyes, too.

So, rather than parroting questions from radio/television entertainers, rabble-rousing columnists, and grandstanding politicians, none of whom have worked in consulates anywhere, start researching what a variety of recognized scholars (not self-styled “experts”) have written about consular operations. Afterwards, if you’ve found discrepancies between Benghazi and how such a consulate is supposed to function, ask questions. Only after knowing from your own scholarship how a consulate is supposed to work will you be able to compare it to what happened in Benghazi and know if each official acted in accordance with State Department protocols.

Again, I’ll bet you’ll shake your head in wonder and/or disgust/chagrin at how underhandedly our CIA, DIA, and State Department work in our name through consulates. And you’ll see this has been the norm for decades whether you knew about it, agreed with it, or not. To get to an accurate understanding, though, you’ll need to do legitimate scholarly research, not accept media’s predigested information like baby birds being fed in a nest.

Paul Heckel


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