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I was watching the Republican National Convention, and a mother of a son, who had been killed at Benghazi, questioned why her son had to die. The answer is complicated.

The primary cause of her son's death is the attack on the U.S. compound by a Libyan militia, who wanted to make sure that the U.S. couldn't establish a diplomatic toehold in the Benghazi area. They took advantage of local turmoil over a perceived religious insult and the presence of Ambassador Stevens at the compound. Apparently, this militia knew of the weak security at the compound.

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A contributing cause is the failure of Ambassador Chris Stevens, the top U.S. official and man-on-the-ground, to take preventive action when the weakness of the security at the compound was in question. First, we did not have trusted community sources of information that could have warned us of planned action against us. We were relatively new to the area and might have rushed our efforts to establish a toehold here. Second, the compound was neither sufficiently fortified nor manned by U.S. military. It occupied the lowest rung of security requirements. These two obvious weaknesses should have made the ambassador return to Tripoli without spending the night in Benghazi.

Third, and most obvious, was the strike for higher wages by the militia we had hired for security — for our caravans and for security at the compound. This should have been a big red flag, with accompanying bells and whistles, to the ambassador. As soon as he heard of this strike, the ambassador (and staff) should have returned to Tripoli. (Of course, this "security" militia was conveniently absent during the attack.) The attack might still have occurred, with deaths on our side. We will never know for sure.

The woman's son died in service to our country, as so many have before and will in the future. Let's move on from the lessons learned.

Dan Bridgewater

Westminster

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