The sole source for this assertion was "Nightwatch"—a conservative "intelligence" blog written by former Defense Department analyst John McCreary and hosted by a subsidiary of a defense contractors' lobby group—which attributed the report to unnamed (and uncounted) "USMC blogs." According to McCreary, Patterson—a career foreign service officer who was not a political appointee, and who served George W. Bush as an ambassador to the UN and to Pakistan—"did not defend U.S. sovereign territory and betrayed her oath of office." And: "She neutered the Marines posted to defend the embassy, trusting the Egyptians over the Marines."
These claims were quickly perpetuated by the right-wing Washington Free Beacon and Fox Nation sites, despite never having been confirmed—and they are highly unlikely to be true. Patterson was in Washington at the time of the protests, leaving the deputy chief of mission in charge, and he would have had responsibility for issuing orders to guards, along with the embassy's regional security officer, a specially trained State Department official. State's own guidelines for Marine security guards require that any duty assigned to them "shall not contravene established Department or Marine Corps policy and shall not unduly jeopardize the safety or well-being of any Marine." That's a pretty straightforward way of saying Marines don't lay down their arms if danger is imminent, no matter what a diplomat says. Unless, of course, you're willing to believe the worst about POTUS and his diplomatic corps.
Pentagon spokesman George Little dismissed the allegations Thursday afternoon. "With or without a weapon, Marines are always armed," he told Time's Mark Thompson. "I've heard nothing to suggest they don't have ammunition."
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