Benghazi issue heats up

A fight is brewing over a foreign policy disaster of monumental proportions.

It's been more than two months since the terror attack by al-Qaida on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans were killed, and major questions remain unanswered as the issue heats up this week.

It's fair to chalk up the administration's reticence to the presidential election. But the Obama administration's desire to get past the election without full disclosure will not immunize it from responsibility for the events leading up to the deaths of this country's ambassador to Libya.

Two leading Republican senators, John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, criticized United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice over her initial explanations of the attack, and the criticism seemed to touch a raw nerve with President Barack Obama at his news conference Wednesday.

"They should go after me," the president said, calling the criticism outrageous. Part of the reason Obama reacted so strongly is that he is considering nominating Rice to replace Hillary Clinton when she steps down as secretary of state.

Clinton boldly stepped up to take what she called "responsibility" for the events, without explaining for what she was accepting responsibility. She certainly was not accepting any blame. Neither is anyone else in the administration, particularly Obama, who up until now has been noticeably reluctant to address the subject.

Three big questions surround the attack.

Official documents show consulate personnel in Benghazi warned higher-ups in the U.S. State Department of an impending attack more than two weeks before the Sept. 11 assault and pleaded for help. Why was additional security denied to our people? Alternatively, if more security was denied, why weren't consulate personnel pulled out of such a dangerous area?

Other foreign and private entities already had left Benghazi because of the al-Qaida threat. Yet the U.S. consulate remained in place and unprotected, decisions that led directly to death and disaster.

Once the attack began, why didn't U.S. officials outside Benghazi provide assistance? The CIA and the Defense Department, refusing to be hung out to dry by a silent White House, have provided timelines of their response to the attack. But no real explanation has been given of who decided not to come to the aid of Americans under attack and why that decision was made.

Finally, and most incredibly, why did the White House cling to the claim for so long that this was not a terrorist attack — but rather a demonstration that got out of hand? Consulate video shows there was no demonstration prior to the attack, and there were indications shortly after the attack that al-Qaida was taking credit for it.

Yet, Rice was sent by the administration to appear on Sunday talk shows days later to repeat the transparently false claim the attack came from demonstrators enraged by a video ridiculing Prophet Muhammad. Obama also repeated Rice's spurious statement.

From where did such a whopper come and why was it given?

The attack on our consulate and the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens has been a foreign policy disaster, one that shows al-Qaida remains a distinct threat to Americans in the Middle East and elsewhere. Given that reality and the obvious reluctance to discuss all the issues involved, it's clear the Obama administration's first priority in the aftermath was to keep it from becoming a political disaster as well.

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Sid Saltfork wrote on November 15, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Another right wing conspiracy theory being foisted on the naive, and Obama haters by the conservative media.  Your guy lost the election.  Get over it.  Get on with moving this country forward along with your fellow citizens.  Change with the times; or fall further behind.

STM wrote on November 15, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Yep, here goes the News Gazette parroting another FauxNews talking point.  Besides the propaganda circus of FoxNews, who else is calling this a "foreign policy disaster?"

What allies have been alienated by this disaster?  What wars have been started?

Funny how the foreign policy disasters of the Bush era weren't covered with such zeal.  After all, the Bush administration lied us into war with Iraq killing thousands and costing trillions.  They disregarded memos of terrorist attacks. They allowed a banking meltdown that has negatively affected every economy in the world and we're still cleaning up the mess.

BTW, it was called a terrorist attack the first day. Don't you recall Mitt Rmoney getting tripped up on that one during the last debate?  Oh yeah, selective memory. Typical.

Meanwhile, issue-less Republican senators looking for airtime, go to work on presidential appointees in a witch-hunt which promises to yield few witches. It's interesting how president Obama will openly take the blame and the heat, something routinely deflected from the fragile Bush.

I guess readership is down considerably if your news gathering only involves turning on the Murdoch network.

rsp wrote on November 17, 2012 at 12:11 am

About John McCain. While he was complaining to the press about not getting any answers, he was missing his briefing on Benghazi. And I guess they should answer all questions to the public and know everything immediately regardless if it puts anyone else in danger. Because we have a right to know or else it's a coverup!

jthartke wrote on November 17, 2012 at 9:11 am

Nice try, but the only people in the world who see a scandal here are right-wingers needing to attack Obama for something.  Most of the world sees this as a tragedy, not an opportunity to attack the president or his advisors who had nothing to do with it.  If a mistake was made, it was in Rice saying anything about a cause before we were certain what it was.  But if that would have happened, you guys would have called it a coverup and a scandal because she said nothing.  There was no lie -- it was mistaken informatin rushed to the public too quickly because they feared a media who would accuse them of coverup if they waited until the information was clear.

Yet, we hear nothing from the NG on "Bin Laden Determined to Attack in the US" memo which another woman named Rice completely missed.  You do not attack Bush for proveable lies that drug us into a war that killed thousands.  Those *were* lies about WMD and Hussein's involvement in 9/11.  And far more than 4 Americans died AFTER those lies, not before.