The protests which started with the Libya Embassy Attack and then proliferated in response to an anti-Muslim film produced by some assholes totally unaffiliated with the US government, have spread to Jordan, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Indonesia, Bangladesh, East Jerusalem, Malaysia, Qatar, and the Kashmir region of India. That may not be a comprehensive list.
Below, links to some of what I've been reading this morning. Please feel welcome and encouraged to drop in comments links to things you've been reading and/or writing.
The Guardian's live blogging coverage of the protests is here.
CNN's live blogging coverage is here.
Both sites are frequently updated.
Chris Stephen in Benghazi for the Guardian—Inside the US Consulate in Benghazi: Material and Human Damage Laid Bare:
The bullet holes, smashed masonry and blood on the walls of the burned-out consulate on the southern outskirts of Benghazi are testament to the gun battle that raged through the building, claiming four lives including that of the US ambassador, Chris Stevens.That entire article is so sad. I don't even know what else to say about it. It's heartbreaking.
As the owners of the damaged building and the accommodation block a mile down the road took the Guardian on a tour of the sites on Thursday, reports that the attack was the work of an isolated group seemed to be at odds with the physical evidence and what their staff had told them.
"Better security would not have stopped this," said Adel Ibrahim, the owner of the accommodation building where blood is now spattered beneath a hole smashed in a wall by a heavy projectile. "A security unit is fine if you are facing 10 persons, but there were 400 attackers. [The Americans] would have needed an army to stop them."
It is clear the US staff and their Libyan guards were subjected to a terrifying, night-long ordeal, which began with protests outside the consulate in the al-Fawahat residential district. Demonstrators gathered in the narrow Venice Street outside the main gated entrance, voicing protests against the reported release in the US of a film that ridiculed Islam.
The protest quickly turned violent, the landlords said. Who fired first is a matter of dispute, with some claiming the Libyan security guards hired by the Americans shot in the air, panicking the crowd.
There is no doubt about what happened next. The compound is bound by a breeze-block wall topped by barbed wire, but it was not enough to stop the attackers. "They jumped in from everywhere," said Ahmed Busheri, owner of the consulate.
...Sadness is everywhere in the city whose proud boast is that it was the cradle of last year's revolution. A Libyan photographer inside the ruined compound came over to offer an unsolicited apology. "We are not all like this," he insisted. "Libyans do not approve of this."
There is also unease about how America will react. It has not had an ambassador killed since 1979, and President Barack Obama's vow that "justice will be served" has fuelled rumours that US marines now deployed in Tripoli will head to Benghazi and take action.
But many also hope the government will move against the protagonists. "They have to show a fist of steel," said Mohammed el-Kish, a former press officer with the National Transitional Council which handed over power last month to Libya's newly elected congress.
"They have got to rid us of these people."
As I mentioned above, the protests are spreading [continued content note for violence; some of the below stories also contain reports of anti-Semitism]...
Washington Post—Egypt, Yemen Work to Contain Anti-US Protests as Anger Spreads through Muslim World.
Reuters—Sudanese Storm German Embassy, Hoist Islamic Flag.
AP—German FM: Sudan Embassy in Flames.
Desert News—Indonesians Protest Anti-Islam Film at US Embassy.
Reuters—Bangladesh Muslims Protest, Blocked from March on US Embassy.
Meanwhile, in the US...
The Fact Checker: The Romney Campaign's Repeated Errors on the Cairo Embassy Statement.
Jonathan Chait: Romney Tries to Defend Embassy Lies.
Greg Sargent: Conservatives Bash Media for Being Mean to Mitt Romney.
In other news, there is a big piece in The Independent today claiming that "the US State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and 'lockdown', under which movement is severely restricted."
The Obama administration is denying the veracity of that report: Shawn Turner, spokesperson for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, emailed in response to a request from Politico: "This is absolutely wrong. We are not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent."
If I had to wager a guess, it would be that there was a general warning about potential attacks on US missions, but nothing that fundamentally differed from constant noise to the same effect, i.e. nothing that indicated an attack of this scope or ferocity was imminent. I'm basing that supposition largely on the Guardian article excerpted above, particularly this piece:
"Better security would not have stopped this," said Adel Ibrahim, the owner of the accommodation building where blood is now spattered beneath a hole smashed in a wall by a heavy projectile. "A security unit is fine if you are facing 10 persons, but there were 400 attackers. [The Americans] would have needed an army to stop them."My intuition is that if the Obama administration is trying to obscure any failure, it's not knowing at all, rather than knowing and failing to act.