Ackerman has a useful rundown:
It was not a simple mob that attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Tuesday, killing four Americans. Benghazi was the scene of a pitched battle, one in which unknown Libyan assailants besieged American diplomats with small-arms fire for over four hours, repelling several attempts by U.S. personnel to regain control of it.
Nor was what happened in Benghazi a simple story of Americans assaulted by the Libyans they helped to liberate from Moammar Gadhafi last year, American officials say. Libyan security forces and a sympathetic local militia helped the Americans to suppress the attack and get the diplomats inside to safety.
That account is the first official telling of Tuesday’s events. It’s preliminary, as much of what has been initially reported in the media on Wednesday has proven incorrect. And it was provided to reporters late Wednesday afternoon by Obama administration officials who would not speak for the record.
This is Libya’s extreme right.
And, while much is still uncertain, Tuesday’s attack appears to have been their attempt to escalate a strategy they have employed ever since the Libyan revolution overthrew Colonel Qaddafi’s dictatorship. They see in these days, in which the new Libya and its young institutions are still fragile, an opportunity to grab power. They want to exploit the impatient resentments of young people in particular in order to disrupt progress and the development of democratic institutions.
A good rule when trying to absorb breaking news like this is to wait. That applies to bloggers as well as presidential candidates. J.D. Tuccille asks why Ambassador Stevens wasn't better protected:
By contrast to the Benghazi compound, the U.S. embassy in Cairo, which also came under attack with a better outcome, is described as a "fortress-like U.S. mission." Granted, the U.S. embassy to Libya is in Tripoli and the Benghazi consulate is a lesser facility, but Libya strikes me as the sort of place where any American presence should be "fortress-like."
Juan Cole adds:
Why in the world [Stevens] was in an insecure minor consulate in a provincial city on September 11 is a mystery to me.
(Photo: An armchair and parasol float in the swimming pool of the US consulate in Benghazi on September 13, 2012, following an attack on the building late on September 11 in which the US ambassador to Libya and three other US nationals were killed. By Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images)