I'll say this for the Benghazi Accountability Review Board - it is doing a great job of maintaining the secrecy of its proceedings. I don't think the least hint about its deliberations has leaked out into the public sphere. We'll just have to wait for the report, assuming it is publicly released.
In the meantime, please read Diplopundit's post of earlier today because it contains a good many excellent and extremely pertinent questions about what lessons we have learned from the other serious attacks of last September. I partially quote from a few of them below, because they go directly to the premises that underlie some of our overseas physical security practices (which, for the record, are described pretty well in GAO reports like this one).
• If a mob can scale 9-foot walls that easily, and help from host country authorities are slow or not forthcoming, what are the recommended options for the embassy staff short of getting into a safehaven and waiting to be roasted like ducks?
In the event we cannot expect a timely response from host country authorities, I can imagine extreme circumstances under which it would be preferable to evacuate the mission, even during an attack, rather than to go into the safehaven.
• If the safehaven rooms are to function as the embassy’s “safe haven” for employees under attack, shouldn’t these rooms require not only fireproofing but also be fully smoke sealed?
That GAO report I linked to above describes "five key Overseas Security Policy Board standards to protect overseas diplomatic office facilities against terrorism and other dangers" but none of them address fire and smoke used as a weapon. Maybe the OSPB should think about that.
• Is it more advantageous to continue the path of co-location of facilities and other agencies inside one hardened facility (and provide a single target) or does the policy of co-location provide more vulnerabilities than acceptable?
Is it better to put all your eggs in one basket, or to spread the risk by distributing them in several baskets? The only answer I've ever heard that makes sense to me is this: in places where the host government provides reasonable security, distribute your eggs in several baskets; in places where it doesn't, put your eggs in one basket and use all your resources to protect that basket.
• How did the protesters easily got on top of the chancery buildings? Were these buildings constructed with built- in ladders? If so, is it time to revisit this and if the built-in ladders are there for “aesthetics” maybe it is time to screw that? As a precaution, what has been done to the current buildings constructed with built in ladders?
The embassy in Tunis did indeed have what amounted to built-in ladders (evidently vertical window stacks running from ground to roof with hand- and foot-holds wide enough to climb).
completed construction on November 1, 2002, which means that it predates by one year the Office of Overseas Buildings Operations era of standard embassy designs. So, at least that architectural ladder wasn't reproduced elsewhere. On the other hand, that means the ladder was there for ten years with no action taken to remove it. Hum.
The Stairway to Heaven was a good song, if a bit slow to get started, but it is really bad defensive architecture.
• Has the State Department updated its use of force policy since the embassy attacks? If so, what red lines require the corresponding response of active use of force?
Assuming (1) we cannot expect a host country intervention for many hours, if ever, and (2) that we may have to evacuate the compound while under attack, and (3) that fire may be used as a weapon ... that adds up to a need to use deadly force in unprecedented ways.
That's a lot of good questions.