Defense Media Network

Why You Won’t Be Reading The Embassy House

The title of the book was a hint that something might be wrong.

The Embassy House by Sgt. Morgan Jones, with co-author Damien Lewis, was displayed face-up on the “new arrivals” table at the Barnes & Noble outlet in Fairfax, Va., on Friday, Nov. 8.

A quick glance suggested that this was an exposé about the attack in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11, 2012 that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

The title of The Embassy House, again, was the first sign than something was awry.

As a retired Foreign Service officer – an American diplomat – who worked in embassies and consulates from 1964 to 1989, I leafed through the book and wondered what could be new to say about Benghazi. A brief look at several passages suggested that the book itself was an attack.

The Obama Administration has acknowledged that a colossal lapse in security contributed to the murderous assault, and that mistakes were made in explaining the disaster afterward. Benghazi, everyone now acknowledges, was a vicious attack, not a spontaneous flare-up by a crowd of demonstrators. Contrary to early public statements, there was no demonstration – only the assault. Supporters of the administration say all the mistakes have been made public and there is nothing left to explain.

Critics, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) say that the administration is covering up what happened at Benghazi and muzzling the five State Department employees who survived the attack. Graham is up for re-election next year and, although conservative, faces a primary challenge from the right.

The Embassy House

The dust cover jacket of the book, The Embassy House,” by Sergeant Morgan Jones and Damien Lewis. Simon & Schuster photo

The Embassy House, an insider’s look at the Benghazi tragedy, was going to provide ammunition to Graham and his allies. The author had appeared on CBS60 Minutes Oct. 27. He was actually at the consulate building when the violence unfolded, he said. He scaled a 12-foot wall in the compound and fought off a militant with a rifle butt. He was exactly the right person to raise questions about whether the administration did everything possible to save the Americans in the embattled compound. He was also the right person, in the view of some, to give the political right an issue where none actually exists.

The title of The Embassy House, again, was the first sign than something was awry.

An embassy is in a capital. In Libya, the capital is Tripoli. That’s where the U.S. embassy is. The facility in Benghazi is a consulate.

In an explanatory note, the author wrote that he used the terms “Embassy,” “Consulate” and “Diplomatic Mission” – replete with capital letters – interchangeably throughout. Moreover, wrote the author, “My understanding is that when the ambassador visits, it becomes the embassy.”

Say what?

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Robert F. Dorr is an author, U.S. Air Force veteran, and retired American diplomat who...