I have to say I am appalled by the terrorist attacks on September 11th in Benghazi, Libya, that killed our Ambassador and three other Americans. And I’m outraged that President Obama and senior administration officials continue to say they don’t really know what happened or why even though very disturbing facts are coming to light day by day.
On September 16th, Ambassador Susan Rice went on ABC’s “This Week” and said, “Our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous – not a premeditated – response to what had transpired in Cairo….In Cairo, as you know, a few hours earlier, there was a violent protest that was undertaken in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated….We believe that folks in Benghazi, a small number of people came to the embassy to – or to the consulate, rather, to replicate the sort of challenge that was posed in Cairo. And then as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons… And it then evolved from there.”
This was patently false. We now have learned that there was no protest outside our facility in Benghazi. “There was no protest and the attacks were not spontaneous,” a U.S. intelligence source told Fox News, adding the attack “was planned and had nothing to do with the movie.” The source said “the assault came with no warning at about 9:35 p.m. local time, and included fire from more than two locations. The assault included RPG’s and mortar fire, the source said, and consisted of two waves.” What’s more, a Libyan guard who was there that night said, “There wasn’t a single ant outside.”
Only on September 27 — more than two weeks after the deadly attack — did the Obama administration admit it was a pre-meditated terrorist attack.
Then the story shifted. Vice President Biden said during the debate with Rep. Paul Ryan last week that “we weren’t told” that U.S. diplomats in Libya needed more security.
But this was not true either. The administration was repeatedly told by U.S. security officials on the ground in Libya that more security was needed — but those requests were denied by the Obama administration.
“Eric Nordstrom, the State Department’s former regional security officer in Libya, testified that a few more armed Americans would not have repelled the organized nightlong assault by dozens of heavily armed extremists, which he called unprecedented in its ‘ferocity and intensity,’” reported the Los Angeles Times in a story headlined, “U.S. declined requests to boost security in Libya, Congress told.” ”But Nordstrom, who left Libya in July, sharply criticized his supervisors for ignoring his concerns about the growing risk of armed militias and extremist groups in Benghazi. Nordstrom said he was frustrated by ‘a complete and total absence of planning’ to improve security. ‘When I requested assets, I was criticized.…It was a hope that everything would get better.’ Lt. Col. Andrew Wood, who headed a 16-member U.S. military team assigned to protect the embassy in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, said decision makers in Washington did not appreciate how security had deteriorated in Benghazi, an eastern coastal city. Wood noted that the British Consulate in Benghazi was closed after assailants fired rocket-propelled grenades at the British ambassador’s car in June. The United States was the last Western nation to operate a diplomatic mission in the city that was the base for the armed uprising that toppled and killed Libyan ruler Moammar Kadafi last year. ‘I almost expected the attack to come,’ said Wood, a member of the Utah National Guard. ‘We were the last flag flying. It was a matter of time.’ Wood’s team left Libya in August after Lamb had refused to approve extending its assignment for a second time. She said the State Department planned to turn over most basic protective duties to a Libyan guard force, part of a decade-long shift away from using U.S. Marines to protect embassies.”
Consider, too, this story by Reuters, headlined, “U.S. officer got no reply to requests for more security in Benghazi.” ”A U.S. security officer twice asked his State Department superiors for more security agents for the American mission in Benghazi months before an attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, but he got no response. The officer, Eric Nordstrom, who was based in Tripoli until about two months before the September attack, said a State Department official, Charlene Lamb, wanted to keep the humber of U.S. security personnel in Benghazi ‘artificially low,’ according to a memo summarizing his comments to a congressional committee that was obtained by Reuters. Nordstrom also argued for more U.S. security in Libya by citing a chronology of over 200 security incidents there from militia gunfights to bomb attacks between June 2011 and July 2012. Forty-eight of the incidents were in Benghazi.”
Consider, too, this story by Bloomberg, headlined, “Requests for More Libya Security Spurned, Issa Says.” “Requests for additional security at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, before the Sept. 11 attack were rejected by the State Department because of a desire to convey ‘normalization,’ the Republican chairman of a House panel said today. Representative Darrell Issa of California said U.S. officials in Libya made repeated requests for additional security in the weeks before the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. ‘They repeatedly warned Washington officials of the dangerous situation’ in Libya, Issa said at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing examining the attack. ‘Washington officials seemed preoccupied with the concept of normalization’ after the rebellion that ousted Muammar Qaddafi.”
Charlene Lamb, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in charge of diplomatic security, actually had the gall to tell a Congressional committee last week that argued that our diplomats in Libya had all the security they needed. “We had the correct number of assets in Benghazi at the time of 9/11,” Lamb testified. The Los Angeles Times reported that Lamb testified that ”the mission had five diplomatic security agents, plus several U.S.-trained Libyan guards and members of a local militia on standby, when the attack occurred.”
How could Ms. Lamb say that under oath with a straight face? If our diplomats had had all the security they had needed, they wouldn’t be dead.
Some administration officials have been trying to suggest in recent weeks that the U.S. government didn’t have the money to adequately protect our people in Libya. Some have even accused Congressional Republicans of seeking to cut funding for diplomatic security. Yet, as Politico has reported. “Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) says the State Department is sitting on $2.2 billion that should be spent on upgrading security at U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide, but the Obama administration will not spend the funds.”
What’s also baffling and outrageous is the fact that President Obama has skipped 62% of his daily intelligence briefings in 2012. Consider this column in the Washington Post: “President Obama is touting his foreign policy experience on the campaign trail, but startling new statistics suggest that national security has not necessarily been the personal priority the president makes it out to be. It turns out that more than half the time, the commander in chief does not attend his daily intelligence meeting. The Government Accountability Institute, a new conservative investigative research organization, examined President Obama’s schedule from the day he took office until mid-June 2012, to see how often he attended his Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) — the meeting at which he is briefed on the most critical intelligence threats to the country. During his first 1,225 days in office, Obama attended his PDB just 536 times — or 43.8 percent of the time. During 2011 and the first half of 2012, his attendance became even less frequent — falling to just over 38 percent. By contrast, Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush almost never missed his daily intelligence meeting.”
Americans died in Libya because they weren’t properly protected by our government, even while they were serving our government. No more spin. No more politics. The administration needs to tell the truth, the whole truth, and admit their mistakes. Even Bob Woodward of the Washington Post said he was troubled by the actions of the Obama team given the chaotic and dangerous environment in Libya at the time. He decried a “passivity” in the White House on international crises.