CNN’s Anderson Cooper held a panel discussion on Wednesday about security in Benghazi ahead of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate that left an ambassador, two former Navy SEALs and an information management officer dead.
Perhaps the most jarring revelation about the subsequent investigation was the acknowledgment there was “not one FBI agent in Benghazi.”
President Barack Obama’s administration, including Sec. of State Hillary Clinton, gave Americans the impression the FBI was on the ground in the area, investigating the attack.
Complicating an already complicated situation, guests on Cooper’s show also disclosed there was infighting between the FBI, the State Dept. and the Justice Dept.
CNN contributor Robert Baer said the situation is “outrageous.”
Apparently, the FBI hasn’t had direct access to potential suspects and witnesses, and the agency has been forced to question them indirectly through Libyan government officials.
Acknowledging the assault on the Consulate was an “attack on U.S. soil,” the panel concluded that at the moment, Libyans “don’t know which side they’re on.”
A contributor to The Daily Beast said the administration knew the assault was a terrorist attack within 24 hours of the event. Obama continues to blame an obscure film for the attack, and the president has taken a troublesome view of the situation in the Mideast, appearing to pacify protesters while subordinating the U.S. First Amendment.
Fran Townsend, CNN contributor and former Homeland Security Adviser to President George W. Bush, said, “You can’t keep pointing to the film” as the reason for the attack.
Baer said he thought the White House is “reluctant to admit Libya is lost.” Paradoxically, Baer also said you couldn’t hold the Obama administration responsible for that because, “Nobody is in control.”
Reports have disclosed the intelligence community knew “from day one” that this “clearly” was a terrorist attack.
Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson (Ga.), and Rep. Mike Turner (Ohio) both weighed in on their efforts to obtain cables from Ambassador Stevens because if he thought the consulate was in danger, he would probably have let Washington know.
Turner pointed out that Obama, after engaging the U.S. in Libya, didn’t have a plan. Turner said no one knows what Obama’s policy is post-Kaddafi.
Isakson sent a letter to Sec. Clinton on Sept. 25 regarding the cables:
Libyan officials claim that that they met with U.S. officials regarding rising threats against Western officials in the days leading up to the attacks, and CNN reports that Ambassador Stevens was increasingly concerned over the deteriorating security situation in Benghazi and rising levels of Islamist extremism. Despite these warnings, the State Department sought and received a waiver from the standard security requirements for the consulate.
Townsend said, “Nature abhors a vacuum—al Qaeda looks for safe havens around the world.”
Media have rarely been critical of Obama despite glaring contradictions in his policy.
After the 2009 shootings at Ft. Hood indicated the suspect acted in accordance with a terrorist’s goal, the administration classified the attack as “workplace violence.”
In 2010 a report about an attempted bombing on Christmas Day acknowledged “systemic failure” in security after media reported that passengers actually subdued the “Underwear Bomber” suspect, a 23 year old native of Nigeria.
There were contradictions in the official report the Obama administration filed—officials claimed the flight crew “restrained” the suspect. No media asked the administration about the contradiction.
In April, 2012, a State Dept. official told National Journal the War on Terror was over. Obviously, as Obama and former President Jimmy Carter like to say, that official shot first and aimed later.
During the Bush 43 administration, media scrutinized foreign policy, and constant criticism was lodged. Media have largely ignored new fronts like Libya under the Obama administration.
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Sept. 27, 2012)