This column by ACRU General Counsel and Senior Fellow for the Carleson Center for Public Policy (CCPP) Peter Ferrara was published October 25, 2012 on Forbes.com.
Enough facts are in the public record about the Benghazi murders of Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens and 3 others, including two Marines, that a final judgment can be rendered on President Obama’s handling of the affair. Obama’s actions, or inactions, amounted to dereliction of duty, and worse.
The Obama Administration received requests for additional security from the Embassy and the Ambassador himself as early as February. An embassy cable on June 25 expressed fear of rising Islamic extremism in eastern Libya around Benghazi, and noted that the black flag of Al-Qaeda “has been spotted several times flying over government buildings and training facilities.” On August 2, Ambassador Stevens sent a cable requesting 11 additional body guards, noting “Host nation security support is lacking and cannot be depended on to provide a safe and secure environment for the diplomatic mission of outreach,”
But these requests for additional security were repeatedly denied, as security officials testified before Chairman Darrell Issa’s House Oversight Committee earlier this month. Obama and his allies did not want a show of American force in the country that would offend Muslim sensibilities. They wanted to rely instead on the host country’s security that the embassy was telling them was inadequate and could not be depended upon.
As the anniversary of 9/11 approached, the Obama Administration should have known that more security was necessary to protect diplomatic missions in the increasingly hostile country, especially on that sensitive date. But they did just the opposite, reducing security. The Wall Street Journal reported on October 10 that the Administration removed a well armed, 16 member, security detail from Libya in August, to be replaced by the Libyan security personnel that Ambassador Stevens had just told them could not be relied upon.
Based on documents released by the House Oversight Committee, the day of the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, September 11, the White House situation room starts receiving emails at about 1 pm that the mission is under hostile surveillance. The only response was that the Pentagon sends a drone armed with a video camera so that everyone in Washington can see what transpires in real time, as it happens, at the White House, at the State Department, at the Pentagon, at the CIA.
The drone documents no crowds protesting any video. But at 4 pm Washington receives an email from the Benghazi mission that it is under military style attack. Subject: “U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack.” The email states,
“The Regional Security Officer reports the diplomatic mission is under attack. Embassy Tripoli reports approximately 20 armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well. Ambassador Stevens, who is currently in Benghazi, and four COM personnel are in the compound safe haven. The 17th of February militia is providing security support.”
The attack was then fed to all of them, the White House, the Pentagon, the State Dept., the CIA, through live video feed. A later email that day reported, “Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack.” The feed showed no protest of any supposedly offensive You Tube video.
Just one hour flight time away were U.S. Air Force bases that could have been rousted in minutes to send fighter planes and attack helicopters that could have routed the attackers in minutes of fighting. As Investors Business Daily editorialized on October 24, “Within an hour’s flight time from Libya, at the large naval air station in Sigonella, Italy, and at bases in nearby Aviano and Souda Bay, were fighters and AC 130 gunships that can be extremely effective in dispersing crowds or responding to a terrorist assault.” But the order for the rescue never came. Maybe because Barack Obama did not want to offend Muslim sensibilities by such a show of force.
The IBD editorial summarized the situation by the next morning as follows:
“When President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton stepped into the Rose Garden the morning of September 12, they likely knew [correction: they surely knew] the attack on our Benghazi consulate the day before was organized by terrorists. They knew because they were privy to a flurry of emails among administration officials discussing the attack in real time. Yet they said nothing about what they knew and, worse, had done nothing to mount a rescue despite American forces being less than an hour away during the seven hour blitz. According to Fox News, 300 to 400 national security figures received these emails in real time almost as the raid was playing out and concluding. These people work directly under the nation’s top national security, military and diplomatic officials.”
By then everyone knew how the battle of Benghazi had turned out. The United States Ambassador to Libya, the personal representative of President Barack Obama, had been tortured, sodomized, dragged bloody through the streets of Benghazi, and murdered. Chris Stevens, along with the two Marines and another who were murdered along with him, had volunteered to serve his country. But under the leadership of Barack Obama, that is how his service ended.
By the evening of that next day, Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama was jetting off to a campaign fundraiser in Las Vegas, followed by parties with Jay-Z and Beyonce. Chris Stevens was already out of sight, out of mind. Except that Commander Obama could not wash off the stench of dereliction of duty, duty to far more worthy American warriors and servicemen, dereliction in failing to authorize worthy security for those who were sent in harm’s way under his leadership, and to order a timely rescue when he could. For such failure, any commander serving under the commander-in-chief should be court martialed. But the President expects you to give him four more years of such “leadership.”
The Truth-Challenged President
But the saga did not end there for the American people. The rest of us had to endure the President, Secretary of State Clinton, and UN Ambassador “explaining” to us that what really happened was that those irascible Muslims were all incited out of their minds by a previously unseen, unheard of YouTube video trailer by an unknown American immigrant, a movie that was never made outside the trailer advertising it, in Fool on the Hill style. Their protest had just got out of hand, you see.
Except they all knew when they were saying these very words that they were untrue. They were precisely calculated to deceive and to mislead. Yet there was our President Obama telling this mendacious fairy tale to the entire world at the U.N. And there was U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice telling the American people the same concocted fairy tale. Typical Progressives, they were so certain that they could easily buffalo a majority of their countrymen, no smarter than the representative Homer Simpson.
An incredulous IBD editorialized, “How could emails be sent to the White House Situation Room in real time describing a terrorist attack on sovereign U.S. territory in which four Americans were killed as it happened, and as a drone flew overhead recording the truth of the carnage, and the President and Secretary of State insist that it was all about a video and there was no evidence to the contrary.”
Or as Glenn Beck (yes Glenn Beck, and you can go read some New York Times lying propaganda if you don’t like it), summarized at his website The Blaze,
president of the United States of America, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State have all lied to you. They have lied to you and said this might be a video; we don’t have all the information; the information is still sketchy; it’s confusing. No. We now have the documents. We now have the documents that came into the situation room saying there’s an attack; they’re watching. Then we have the documents that we have a live video feed in the situation room, so they could see that there was no protest.”
How Clueless Does He Think We Are?
But the lies did not end even there. The President then went into a nationally televised debate with GOP nominee Mitt Romney, and before the whole country, expected to pull off another lie denying that he had lied, indeed, denying that what the entire country had just seen and heard, from him, from his Secretary of State, from his U.N. Ambassador, had even just happened.
Obama explained at the debate, “The day after the attack, Governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror and I also said that we’re going to hunt down those who committed this crime.”
An exasperated Mitt Romney, shocked at the brazenness of this Soviet style propaganda, exclaimed, “I think interesting the President just said something which – which is that on the day after the attack he went into the Rose Garden and said this was an act of terror.” “That’s what I said,” Obama lied in response. Romney leaped at the brazen discrepancy with reality, saying “I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the President 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.” Obama replied, “Get the transcript.”
It was a transparently pre-arranged, Soviet propaganda style, ambush that the supposed moderator Candy Crowley then jumped in to say, “He did in fact sir.” Obama then brazenly demonstrated his mastery over the Democrat Party controlled media, outright ordering right there before the American people, “Can you say that a little louder, Candy?” Crowley stood at attention, saluted, and “reported”: “He did call it an act of terror.”
This was so transparently pre-arranged because the transcript of the next day’s Rose Garden ceremony, in fact, does not report what Obama fantasized and Crowley “reported.” The transcript in plain black and white shows that Obama was not even talking about Benghazi when he mentioned terror, but about terrorism more generally, as displayed on 9/11. Do you see precisely the further “calculated deception?”
Romney alone among the three, ever sharp as a tack, and fully on top of the facts, persisted in recalling the truth: “The Administration indicated this was a reaction to a video and was a spontaneous reaction….It took them a long time to say this was a terrorist act by a terrorist group.”
Obama again interrupted and appealed to his plant for a further bailout, calling out, “Candy?” But Romney maintained his control and his ever classy demeanor, and unruffled by the blatant, Soviet style propaganda he was enduring, cut off this interruption, “Excuse me. The ambassador of the United Nations went on the Sunday television shows and spoke about how this was a spontaneous…” But Obama interrupted again, appealing further for help, “Candy, I’m happy to have a longer conversation about foreign policy.” Crowley took the cue again from the Boss, “I know you, absolutely, but I want to move you on….” A relieved Obama responded with obvious joy, “OK. I’m happy to do that too.”
This spectacle of the President lying about his own lies to a national debate audience is unprecedented in American politics. It shows an absurdly haughty attitude, and an arrogant disrespect for the intelligence and awareness of the American people. But an Obama supporter calling into the Glenn Beck radio program indicated that Obama may be on to something after all. When Beck asked her, “Where is Benghazi?” she responded, “He is at Walmart.”