Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Benghazi Questions

More than two months after the event there are three unanswered questions about what happened.

  1. Why were the consulate and the ambassador so lightly guarded on that particular date? September 11 is an important symbolic date and the first anniversary of 9/11 since bin Laden was killed. Despite this, orders seems to ave gone out telling the various embassies to treat this date as business as usual.
  2. Why was the response to slow? The battle went on for four hours but it took 19 hours for relief to arrive.
  3. Why did the administration keep talking about a video? Yes, the President used the term "terror" in his Rose Garden speech in a general way. By the weekend the administration was insisting that the event was a protest that got out of hand. The CIA knew that it was a terrorist attack by the next day. Even if they did not want to specifically name al Qaeda, the talking points released made it clear that this was not a demonstration about a video.

The middle question implies incompetence and someone's head should roll. The other two questions imply politics. Remember Joe Biden's quote about why Obama should be reelected, "Bin Laden is dead and GM is alive." The GM part figured in many campaign commercials but the bin Laden part was also important. At various points the Obama campaign insisted that it was a "gutsy call" that Romney would not have made. Biden quoted Romney as saying that he did not see bin Laden's death as that important.

The implication was that the war on terror was won when we killed bin Laden. Romney's actual statement had been that he considered disrupting the organization more important than killing the top man.

The attack at Benghazi proved Romney's point. The organization is still capable of killing Americans. The Obama campaign needed to downplay that message and play up the idea that the war of terror had ended.

It is possible that the administration ordered the embassies to stand down from alert in order for political purposes - that they wanted to push the idea that we don't have to worry about terrorists any longer. If that is what happened then it backfired horribly. Even the protests that actually were inspired by the video were carefully managed to occur on and right after 9/11.

If that is true then Obama needed to keep things quiet until after the election. The idea that a president would leave state department personnel vulnerable for political purposes is enough to cost a president his reelection. Even if that was not true, the events that actually happened threatened to change the message from "Bin Laden is dead and GM is alive" to "Bin Laden is dead but al Qaeda is alive".

That is why these questions are important. We need to know if our government is playing politics with lives and lying to cover it up.

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