According to multiple reports on U.S. Marine Corps blogs, the Marines defending the American embassy in Egypt were not permitted by the State Department to carry live ammunition. This decision, of course, limited their ability to respond to attacks like those this week on the U.S. consulate in Cairo. Or, as one Marine blogger put it, the decision “neutralized any U.S. military capability that was dedicated to preserve. . .life and protect the US Embassy.”
The decision to bar live ammo reportedly was made by the U.S. ambassador to Egypt, Anne Patterson. Remarkably, she seems to have deemed it was sufficient to rely on the Egyptian government, controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, to ensure the security of American lives and property. Patterson, or whoever was in charge while she was away in Washington, apparently adhered to this decision even as the seige of the U.S. embassy unfolded over an eight hour period.
President Obama nominated Patterson to be the ambassador to Egypt. She is a career State Department employee and has held ambassador positions under both Republican and Democratic administrations.
I haven’t yet learned what standing orders were in effect with respect to the U.S. embassy in Libya.
UPDATE: This story originated with Nightwatch. A reader informs me that she contacted the owner of Nightwatch, who said that he knows of only one blog that reported that the Marines weren’t allowed to have live ammo (“blogs,” apparently was a typo). Also, we have not found the blog in question.
The Pentagon has said that “no restrictions on weapons or weapons status [were] imposed” on those protecting the embassy. So did the Marines have live ammo or not?