Republican Sen. Rand Paul sent out this tweet today comparing security at the WWII Memorial with the security present during the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, which killed four Americans including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) October 2, 2013
A sobering comparison, but is it accurate?
An ABC News reporter was present at the memorial for several hours and didn’t spot seven security guards keeping veterans away, but did observe the barricade being pushed aside without incident allowing the veterans to see the monument. One security guard was even spotted helping an elderly vet walk up a steep decline.
The National Park Service has also stated that it will not keep the veterans from visiting the memorial, calling their visits a First Amendment issue that supersedes the shutdown.
“The Honor Flights are being granted access to the WWII memorial to conduct First Amendment activities in accordance with National Park Service regulations applicable to the National Mall and Memorial Parks,” the NPS said in a statement.
As for the Benghazi comparisons, though it is true that the State Department’s independent review board found that security was inadequate during the attack, it is not accurate to say there were only five security guards guarding the entire compound. The Diplomatic Security agents Paul is referring to were on detail to guard Ambassador Stevens alone. The compound was in fact being guarded by several local militiamen, though again the review found the men were not equipped to handle such an assault.
The second phase of the attack on the compounds annex, which killed Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, had the five Diplomatic Security agents, as well as its own security personnel including Woods and Doherty, and was later joined by an additional seven-person response team from Tripoli. While the security could not keep the four Americans from being killed, there were at least twice the number of guards and agents than Paul asserts providing security for the Benghazi consulate and annex on the night of the assault.
Finally, while the president, as commander-in-chief, is technically responsible for everything in the executive branch, it’s fair to say he does not dispatch guards to consulates, or manage security decisions at individual memorials.
ABC’s Arlette Saenz Contributed to this report