As reports and comments from the State Department emerge, and Congressional testimony from security officials becomes public, it is starting to appear as though the Administration was engaged in a cover up of actions leading up to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya as well as the embassy in Cairo.
A background briefing for reporters prior to Congressional hearings from two State Department officials shows that State was well aware that the attack on the consulate in Benghazi was not a spontaneous demonstration against a stupid YouTube video. An excerpt:
QUESTION: Hi, yes. You described several incidents you had with groups of men, armed men. What in all of these events that you’ve described led officials to believe for the first several days that this was prompted by protests against the video?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: That is a question that you would have to ask others. That was not our conclusion. I’m not saying that we had a conclusion, but we outlined what happened. The Ambassador walked guests out around 8:30 or so, there was no one on the street at approximately 9:40, then there was the noise and then we saw on the cameras the – a large number of armed men assaulting the compound.
The conclusion of the State Department, on the night of the attack, was that the attack was not related to the video. The questions that remain unanswered now are, why, if that is the case, did Secretary Clinton, speaking at Dover when the bodies of Ambassador Stevens and the others arrived, say the video was the cause; why did President Obama change his story or at least the terms he used from “attack” to “protest” in the days immediately following; why did Ambassador Susan Rice say it was the video; why did Vice-President Biden, in the debate, the day State Department officials testified before Congress, say it was the video? I find it extremely hard to believe that the State Department deliberately withheld such vital information from the Commander-in-Chief and his staff.
The arguments continue between Democrats and Republicans over who or what is responsible for a failure of security in Benghazi and Libya. However, the fights between the White House, State Department and CIA indicate deep divides within this administration. The fallout from this debacle will be deep and lasting, I’m afraid. And it will harm the reputation of the Obama Administration, Obama himself, the State Department and Secretary Clinton, and cause even further harm to the reputation of the United States abroad. A reputation, by the way, that this president promised to restore.
Regardless of where one places him or herself on the political spectrum, an Administration that attempts to create its own scenarios, contrary to the evidence and the conclusions of its own officials, for events leading to the murder of an American ambassador; throws blame on to other departments within its purview and control and claims it doesn’t know the details (they’re in charge of the country! Shouldn’t they know the details and/or demand the details?); blames a presidential candidate for making Benghazi an issue (as if people wouldn’t be talking about it otherwise); follows that up with going back to blaming Romney for criticizing his initial reaction to the news (is no one allowed to criticize this president?); should cause concern for all Americans.
I am left with the conclusion that this administration is either lying (as they often accuse everybody else of doing) or incompetent. Neither fills me with confidence.
Below are some links to various videos of testimony and analysis:
USAToday: Ex-head of military team calls Libya security weak.
Huffington Post: State Department: Libya Consulate Attack Not Preceded By Protest.
USAToday: State Department: We didn’t link Libya attack to video.
UPDATE: To add to the confusion, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has issued a statement today denying that the State Department or the CIA are responsible for the “it was because of the video” argument pushed by Ambassador Rice on the Sunday talk shows, and Vice-President Biden in the debate. Now, it gets interesting.
UPDATE II: Secretary Clinton, in an interview in Peru tonight, has said “I take responsibility” for the “confusion” regarding the nature and causes of the attack in Benghazi. She went on to state that the President & Vice-President are not involved in security decisions. It is clear the Administration hopes to stop this story with these comments, however, as President of the United States, Obama is still responsible for the actions of his Executive Office (that includes all cabinet members) and the results of those actions. When Truman said “The buck stops here” he was talking about the Oval Office.