For those of you than really know me, you know I don’t take what happened in Benghazi lightly. At all. However, the political crap storm has reached its limit, and here’s why. Exhaustive investigation and “interrogation” has determined that there really was nothing the military could have done “reactively” to better the tragic outcome that night, so in my view, there is no “smoking gun.” I have no doubt it will continue, but I’m done listening to the politicians. There’s nothing useful to learn anymore about “who knew what.” There are real issues and problems buried in this tragedy, and if you pay attention, the lessons can and will save lives in the future.
Could the administration, more specifically the State Department, have taken “proactive” measures to prevent the tragedy? Hell yes! Once again…and this is not a theme confined to the Obama administration, the Force Protection (what we called it when I was on active duty) stance at the Benghazi consulate was disgustingly inadequate. Same with the 1979 U.S. Embassy storming in Tehran (Carter), the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut in 1983 only six months after the embassy in Beirut was bombed (Reagan), the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996 (Clinton) and the crippling of the USS Cole while refueling in Yemen (Clinton). There are so many more, but I list these because basic force protection procedures could and should have prevented them, just like the Benghazi attack. Were the other attacks investigated? Sure. Were the investigations pushed like the Benghazi Hearings? No. Why? Politics…don’t switch channels yet, this is not the Republican’s or conservative’s fault. Not by a long shot.
Politics have always been contentious. That’s simply the nature of the system, especially the two party system, where you are either “with us or against us.” They entered a new era of hostility after George Bush took office in 2000. Admittedly, the circumstances surrounding the recount vote in Florida was tenuous, but the law was applied and followed, yielding George Walker Bush as our president. The Democrats had much to complain about, and damn did they complain. Not only that, they initiated an era of political ugliness that has only worsened since the 2000 election. From what I remember, nobody blamed Reagan for the Beirut bombings…they blamed the Palestinian terrorists. Tehran? It’s not like the situation suddenly exploded overnight. Carter wasn’t blamed for the seizure of the embassy. Islamist activists and the subsequent “government” was blamed. And on and on, until 2000.
So, who’s to blame for Benghazi? A bunch of fundamentalist Islamic hoodlums assembled outside of the consulate! That’s it!
Did the administration mishandle their public relations campaign surrounding the incident? Yes, they did, but keep in mind, every administration does this, for every thing that happens world-wide. Every time the White House press secretary steps up to that podium…his or her notes have been revised for the public consumption. That’s the way it works, and if you think it stinks, guess what? You’re right. It took them a full day of back and forth between the CIA, FBI, White House and State Department to come up with talking points that should have taken about thirty minutes to craft.
The press and Congress can continue to press this issue all they want, but it doesn’t change what happened. All that we can hope to gain from this is the knowledge to prevent such a disaster from occurring in the future. Oh, in case you were curious, this was already accomplished immediately after the attack, under direction of Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. You can read the 39 page report HERE. It pretty much throws the State Department under the bus. Pretty transparent. What I’d like to know is…WHAT HAS BEEN DONE TO IMPROVE SECURITY AT CONSULATES WORLDWIDE SINCE THE ATTACK? Are security cameras still sitting in boxes, uninstalled, because tech support hasn’t come by to install them? Read the report above…cameras that could have detected the growing mob outside of the embassy were never installed.
Speaking of transparency, the only positive aspect of the administrations handling of the tragedy is the fact that key figures have testified in public hearings. Huh? You say. Hold on a second. Have they testified willingly? Not really, but the information is flowing.
It’s certainly flowing a lot better than the information from senior administration officials in the aftermath of a slightly more important attack against U.S. interests, eleven years prior to the Benghazi attack on the same date. Does anyone remember President Bush and Vice President Cheney testifying about their knowledge of the events leading up to the 9/11 attacks? Nobody does, because they testified behind closed doors to the 9/11 Commission and their testimony was sealed! Can you imagine Obama or Hilary telling the American public that they’ll be glad to testify, in secret and in private. Our citizens wouldn’t stand for it, and nor should they.
Wake me up when the State Department has upgraded embassy and consulate facilities worldwide to meet force protections standards required by statute to protect our emissaries abroad, and when we are willing to immediately deploy our Special Operations units to execute the missions they are trained for. That’s the lesson learned here. Plain and Simple.