It is becoming increasingly evident that the highest levels of the Obama administration were aware within hours that the strike at the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya was a terrorist attack. Not a spontaneous demonstration, not a reaction to an insulting depiction of the Prophet, clearly an organized terrorist attack. Members of the al-Qaeda sympathizing extremist group Ansar al-Sharia have been arrested and are being held and questioned. The Ansar as-Sharia group claimed credit on social networks Facebook and Twitter as the raids were still ongoing. The first in a series of emails to State Department officials at the time of the strikes stated that U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and others were in the Benghazi compound safe haven. The initial correspondence was labeled “Sensitive but unclassified (SBU)” under the subject heading “U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack,” it read, “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”
A third renewal of the emailed report, 2 hours later, “Update 2,” on a mail list including the White House Situation Room bore the subject heading “Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack (SBU)”
In spite of what seems substantial evidence of a terrorist attack, UN Ambassador Susan Rice claimed over several days that the U.S. believed the attacks to be a reaction among Muslims to the anti-Islam film.
Secretary of State Clinton made the point in addressing the media today, October 24, that Facebook and Twitter statements do not constitute legitimate basis for intelligence. The president has repeatedly said the initial hours and days surrounding the attack on Benghazi were characterized by numerous and plausible theories as to what sparked the attack.
In spite of rhetoric, some might draw the conclusion that an unanticipated terrorist attack on Americans, and on the American Embassy in Lybia, would have a profound effect on the all-important US presidential elections taking place within a matter of days.
The world is a dangerous place, and doesn’t wait for elections. We now see what amounts to open warfare in the Gaza Strip. Reports from Jerusalem describe militants firing dozens of rocket and mortar shells, at least 80 projectiles according to officials, into southern Israel on Wednesday. This assault has been answered by air strikes on the launchers, in which Palestine militants and others were killed. At another time this serious escalation of “tensions” might be subject to response and conjecture, but now, during the pre-election weeks, they seem only daily accident.
We cite as a third example of politics usurping rectitude, the walkout on Ahmadinejad’s address to the UN General Council on September 26. We wonder once again why the Obama administration, which still espouses communication and diplomacy with foreign powers, would tolerate a fingers-in-ears role by the American delegation. Ahmadinejad is a major player on the world stage, coming from a 21st century nation, in a situation that is seen by all as crucial. He was lucid, and speaking with substance, yet the American delegation and other nations, refused to listen, assuming the Iranian president would say what the network news sources considered to be his context. The only excuse for this Obama ploy must be political. Obama may assume that most Americans consider the dogma advanced by George W. Bush as reason for non-diplomacy, the gained prominence of speakers, as current US policy.
While we stand by our president, we occasionally have unanswered questions. He has taken consistently the politically correct stand that our fighting men are the best in the world, the best in history, and that may be absolutely true. But it is also true that the president has ignored the deaths of civilians at the hands of overwrought US troops, the insults to Islamic holy Korans, the unexplained aspects of the bin Laden killing, and other issues. We note that in speaking to the public, Obama acknowledges killing bin Laden, but in speaking to churchmen, we merely “got” him.
There is nothing more important than the coming elections. If a political blunder can alter the course of future history, then blunders must be avoided. But we still note these things, and ponder the ways of the world.