WASHINGTON – It has hard to get the general public to focus on the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 and fully appreciate what it means.
Benghazi is far away
Benghazi is far away, in Libya, a country most Americans know nothing about. And yes, 4 Americans, including the US Ambassador, were killed. But, hey, these things happen in far away, messy countries.
Well, it is a lot worse than that. The loss of life as a result of the premeditated attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi and the way this (avoidable) tragedy was handled at the time and even today, show a sad –and in fact ugly– combination of incompetence and callousness.
Let’s look at incompetence. It is clear that this diplomatic outpost in fragile, post-conflict Libya was not adequately protected. A mix of bureaucratic inertia and sheer stupidity allowed the US Consulate to be essentially defenseless and therefore vulnerable in case of attack.
This vulnerability was repeatedly pointed out by people on the ground, but it was not corrected. Who was ultimately in charge of the Department of State? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, universally praised for the “great job” she has done while in office. Well, while this one instance does not impeach her entire tenure as Secretary of State, this is an instance of gross incompetence, bordering on willful negligence.
Let’s look at callousness. Sure enough, we know that in the real world of politics there is an irrepressible urge to put a spin on current events so that policy makers may take credit, even when credit is not due; and may distance themselves from failures for which they are responsible.
That said, please do remember that the Obama administration came into office in 2009 with a totally new spirit of openness and transparence. They wanted to create a new climate of dialogue and trust.
Well, the way the White House handled the Benghazi tragedy proves that the opposite is true. The Obama administration deliberately obfuscated what the Benghazi tragedy was really about, because they feared negative political repercussions of a US policy failure that had occurred just weeks before the critical 2012 elections.
Terror networks destroyed?
Let’s remember that Obama was running for re-election in 2012 on the basis (among of other things) of his successes in fighting al Qaeda that culminated with the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. A successful terror attack against a US diplomatic facility in an Arab country –on September 11, mind you– did not fit the official, optimistic narrative of a decimated and powerless terror network.
Run for cover
And so what did the Obama people do? They run for cover. They literally “invented” a convenient story. They told the media and the world that the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi had been caused by a spontaneous protest arising from an anti-Muslim video produced in the USA. Their story was that the airing of this video resulted in (justifiable) outrage in several Muslim countries.
Tragically in Benghazi the protest became very violent and it caused the attack on the US Consulate that ended with the death of four Americans, including the US Ambassador.
In other words, this was a tragedy caused by a spontaneous protest caused by a video. Well, we know that this is not true. This was a deliberate attack orchestrated by well armed terror groups. And we know that the attack succeeded because the Consulate was unprotected.
Worse yet, we now know that everybody in the Obama administration knew that their version of the events was not true.
Indeed, a couple of days ago, long time after that sad incident, via a court order, White House e-mails that specifically instructed UN Ambassador Susan Rice to give the untrue “video story” as the cause of the attack have been made public. She said on TV what she was instructed to say, in order to minimize the political consequences of this tragedy.
Avoid political fall out
So, it is now clear beyond any doubt that this tragedy was treated only as a political embarrassment that needed to be obfuscated through the deliberate injection of extraneous material. The point was not to tell the truth about what had happened, but to limit any political damage resulting from a tragedy originating in the decision to leave a key US Diplomatic post in a dangerous country virtually unprotected.
The White House orchestrated the fictitious narrative
What is even worse is that even now, after the role of the White House in directing how the tragedy should be explained has ben exposed, the White House spokesman keeps saying that what was said at the time was in line with what was known, and so on. So, even today they deny any wrongdoing or any attempt at manipulation.
As I said, this is callousness.