Friday, October 5, 2012

Get to the Bottom of Benghazi

The editors of National Review are calling on the president to deliver on his promise in 2008 to run a transparent administration and come clean on the murders of our diplomats in Benghazi. Here's an excerpt:
Less than a week later, four Americans were dead in Libya and al-Qaeda flags flew over our diplomatic missions in Benghazi and Cairo on the anniversary of 9/11. The juxtaposition of the campaign brag with the video of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens’s body being dragged through the streets was politically unfortunate for the president — especially given his earlier boast that anti-Americanism would wane under his administration.

This perhaps explains, though can never justify, what is now clear about the administration’s persistent denial that the attack was preplanned. Namely, that the White House either was deliberately less than truthful, was cataclysmically incompetent, or both.

From a handful of investigative reports and a few intrepid whistleblowers who came forward to Representative Darrell Issa’s House Oversight Committee, we now know that before Benghazi — before Charlotte — the U.S. intelligence community was well aware that al-Qaeda was in an “expansion phase” in Libya.

Indeed, anti-Western attacks, including RPG and IED attacks on the Benghazi consulate, had been ramping up since as early as April, and by June Libyan militants were openly discussing targeting Ambassador Stevens on social networks. We also know that despite all this, repeated requests for additional security from U.S. mission staff in Libya were denied.

Within 24 hours of the Benghazi attack that killed Stevens and three others, U.S. intelligence had “very good information” that the strike was preplanned and perpetrated by al-Qaeda-connected militants. And yet on September 13, Jay Carney was saying they were “not directly in reaction to . . . the government of the United States or the people of the United States.” And as late as September 16, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was flooding the Sunday chat shows with the same message: “We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.”

It wasn’t until more than a week later that administration officials admitted Benghazi was a terrorist hit, and it wasn’t until nearly two weeks later that the president yielded as much. This long after the intelligence community — not to mention the Libyan government, Senator John McCain, House Select Committee on Intelligence chairman Mike Rogers, a number of reporters and pundits, and anyone with a handful of functioning neurons and an Internet connection — had reached the same conclusion.

In the interim, the yawning gap between the administration’s official line and the dictates of common sense raised the critical question: Was the White House wishfully guessing because it actually didn’t know or care about the conditions on the ground in a state in which it had intervened with precision-guided munitions to create, or was it telling tales as part of a shortsighted political calculation to keep the first assassination of a U.S. ambassador in 30 years from becoming a campaign issue down the home stretch?

If it’s the former, it suggests a startling and dangerous disconnect between the administration’s diplomatic, intelligence, and political chains of command in a region critical to the national security of the United States. If it’s the latter, it reveals something just as dangerous: an administration willing to suppress the truth about the murder of Americans to protect its short-term political interests.
What's unconscionable in the reports about this terrible incident is that the ambassador had for some weeks feared for his life, requested that the State Department give him more protection, and was ignored or refused. How can the paper-pushers at the State Department live with themselves knowing that when this man was in jeopardy they did nothing to help him? How can they keep their jobs?

Read the rest of NR's editorial at the link. The whole thing has about it the odor of a cover-up, a tactic which this most "transparent" of administrations is getting a lot of practice at lately.