Politics

Why wasn’t the Administration ready to deal with the Benghazi crisis?

Why wasn't the Administration ready to deal with the Benghazi crisis?

Fox News reports on the final days of the 13-month congressional investigation into the Benghazi crisis, which has uncovered a number of interesting facts, but is no closer to answering the question nobody in this Administration will ever address:

Staffers with the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations told Fox News they have reached the preliminary conclusion – as the Obama administration has long maintained – that no military rescue or remedy was feasible on the night of September 11, 2012, when U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans died amid an eight-hour assault by terrorists on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and a nearby annex.

However, House investigators have also determined that the reason no military forces could be rallied to intervene in Benghazi is because U.S. military assets were poorly postured amid the turmoil of that period, as the eleventh anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks approached.

“My job was to look at the days and the weeks and the months and the years leading up to that day, and ask the question: Why weren’t we prepared, and who is responsible?” said Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., chair of the HASC subcommittee. “If the White House is projecting that we were safe, the White House has to take responsibility of our lack of preparedness.”

Good luck with that, Rep. Roby.  Refusing to take responsibility has gotten the Obama White House this far.  I wouldn’t expect any dramatic shifts in behavior.

Because of the Administration’s thick layer of obfuscation and outright lies (“Spontaneous video protest!”) everyone concerned about the Benghazi debacle has been forced to make guesses based on snippets of testimony and conflicting public statements.  There have been varying accounts of whether a rescue attempt could conceivably have been mounted, given that as events unfolded, no one could have known exactly how much time they would have to respond.  “We tried and couldn’t get there in time” is very different from “We didn’t think we could make it, so we didn’t try.”

But beyond second-guessing about tactical decisions made in the heat of the moment, the larger – and really, more enduring – question remains: Why were there no assets in place to assist the Ambassador and his heroic defenders when they came under fire?  We might also ask what he was doing in Benghazi in the first place, but even if we accept that his presence was important, the failure to provide for his safety – or provide for any contingencies at all - remains astounding.  And since just about everyone involved with making that decision is either still on the job, or planning to run for higher office, it’s an extremely relevant question.  That’s why former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was so adamant about insisting it’s not relevant.

Didn’t anyone in the Administration realize that the anniversary of 9/11 was coming up?  Why, as a matter of fact, there is documentary evidence that they did… and they weren’t terribly exercised about it.

On September 10, 2012, the day before the Benghazi attacks, Carney’s office issued a four-sentence press release stating that earlier that day, President Obama had met with “key national security principals” to discuss “the steps taken to protect U.S. persons and facilities abroad…on the eve of the eleventh anniversary of September 11th.”

General Carter Ham, then the commander of U.S. Africa Command, the combatant command with jurisdiction over Libya, told the House investigators he was not consulted as part of the meetings referred to in the White House press release.

When a spokesperson for the National Security Council indicated that the White House had dealt directly with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, the House Armed Services subcommittee called the chairman as a witness in a classified setting. Subcommittee staffers told Fox News that Dempsey indicated to them last week that the meetings alluded to in the press release had been routine, and fairly casual in nature.

Carney, as is his wont, dismissed all fresh questions about the matter as “partisan,” referred all questions to someone else (in this case the Department of Defense) and stormed off when asked if the Most Transparent Administration In History had plans to release the relevant emails and documents.  His running gag about referring all questions to other government agencies would be amusing, if this matter was not so serious.

Remember, the Administration knew Libya was an unholy disaster, riddled with terrorists and warlords.  They kept that a secret from the American people and an incurious media, but they knew the situation on the ground.  And with an American ambassador headed into a terrorist hot zone, from which complaints about security problems had been emanating for months, they left the combat commander with jurisdiction over the area out of the meetings, invited the chairman of the Joint Chiefs over for a “fairly casual” chat, and made absolutely zero provisions for dealing with a crisis?  Then they lied shamelessly to mug their way through a couple of news cycles, put a couple of scapegoats on temporary leave, took no responsibility for anything they had done, and denounce all investigations as partisan sniping?  If we ever get to see all the correspondence this White House won’t show us, will we learn that Administration officials refused to move contingency assets into place prior to 9/11/12 because the White House political team didn’t want to admit what a disaster Libya had become?

How is this not an outrage… and why should Americans have any confidence that it won’t be repeated, if similar circumstances arise?  Arguably the same thing is happening with the ObamaCare rollout.  Reasonable precautions were discarded for political reasons; lies were told to the American people to drag Obama past the re-election finish line; serious problems were concealed; steps that could have better served the American people were not taken, because the Administration worried about tarnishing its image; and to date, no one has been held responsible for the debacle.

 

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