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The Original Benghazi Consulate Attack

 
The Original Benghazi Consul
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11/06/2012 08:51 AM
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The Original Benghazi Consulate Attack
Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Original Benghazi Consulate Attack

I uncovered this account of an attack on the Benghazi consulate during the Six-Day War while catching up on some non-work related reading during the hurricane. I think it provides some insight into why the U.S. response to the consulate attack in Benghazi thatoccurred a few weeks back.When the Six-Day War started, seventeen American diplomatic establishments wereattacked. The American consulate in Benghazi was the first to be besieged. Below is anexcerpt from The Book of Honor: The Secret Lives and Death of CIA Operatives by TedGup. It is based off the recollections to Gup of Tom Twetten, a former CIA deputydirector for operations, who was stationed at the Benghazi consulate, undercover, as aconsular officer.On the way into town Twetten heard the news on the radio and went straight to theconsulate knowing that a mob would soon form. A dozen Americans worked in theembassy, including three Agency employees- Twetten, the lone case officer, a secretary,and a communicator. A week earlier Twetten had begun shredding sensitive CIAdocuments, convinced that either Nasser would attack Israel or vice versa. No sooner had Twetten ordered the doors of the consulate barred than the assault began.The first wave came over the roof of an adjacent building. A signal corps officer standingwatch on the roof announced he would shoot anyone who attempted to bring down theU.S. flag. Twetten relieved him of his .45 and put it in the safe. Then Twetten removedthe embassy’s remaining classified materials and stuffed them into self-destruction barrels containing a kind of nitrate charge to incinerate the papers. The barrels were placed on the second-floor balcony, where they were to be ignited if the mob attacked.Then Twetten doled out the embassy’s six gas masks to the secretaries and gatheredtogether the consulate’s tear gas grenades. As the perimeter of the embassy was breachedand the mob came in, Twetten and the others lobbed the grenades down the stairwells andretreated into the vault, sealing it off and stuffing wet rags beneath the vault door. ThereTwetten and eleven other consular employees hid while the mob torched the curtains,destroyed furniture, and attempted to set the walls on fire. Within minutes the rioterswithdrew, unable to withstand the tear gas. For six hours, Twetten and the othersremained hidden in the vault.When they emerged, the consulate was a shambles. There was fire in the streets as themob torched cars. Twetten stood at the window and watched as someone put a wick intothe gas tank of his year-old MG Sprite and blew it up. As he and others ignited the barrelscontaining classified documents, black smoke enveloped the consulate. A cheer went up from the crowd below, mistakenly believing the consulate itself was on fire. It was anunintended deception that may have saved Twetten’s the others’ lives.

History Punk Much to his mother's consternation, History Punk is a graduate student inhistory at a local university. His utterly unprofitable research interests are numerous,fluctuating, and subject to change at the least whim but currently are the former Yugoslavia; the roles historical mythology and inaccurate history play in the constructionof identities and social movements; and modern history from the First World War onward, with a fixation on America because History Punk has been unable to master another language despite a decade of toil.Posted by History Punk at 7:19 PM Labels: Benghazi, CIA, History Punk, Libya, MiddleEast, Mitt Romney, Obama, Qaddafi, Six Day War Israel, State Department, Ted Gup,Tom Twetten

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