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The U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, was operating under a lower security standard than a typical consulate when it was attacked this month, according to State Department officials.
The mission was a rented villa and considered a temporary facility by the agency, which allowed a waiver that permitted fewer guards and security measures than a standard embassy or consulate, according to the officials.
"Someone made the decision that the mission in Benghazi was so critical that they waived the standard security requirements, which presents unique challenges to the diplomatic security service as you can imagine," said Fred Burton, vice president for Intelligence at STRATFOR, an intelligence analysis group.
While standards were lower at the compound, security had been enhanced at the post after a number of incidents this year that included a failed bombing attempt against the compound in June, according to sources.
Several security changes were made over the past few months, the officials said. These included additional barriers and barbed wire, increased lighting, chain link fences, additional sand bags and closed circuit television.t