Scott Shane, writing for the Fish Wrap, makes a darned good point, part of one that I’ve been making in blog posts and on Twitter for well over a month. Much of the article is focused on providing cover for Susan Rice, Barack Obama, and others involved in giving us the stupid “it was a video” talking points, but….
(NY Times) Three days after the lethal attack on the American Mission in Benghazi, Libya, Representative C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, asked intelligence agencies to write up some unclassified talking points on the episode. Reporters were besieging him and other legislators for comment, and he did not want to misstate facts or disclose classified information.
More than 10 weeks later, the four pallid sentences that intelligence analysts cautiously delivered are the unlikely center of a quintessential Washington drama, in which a genuine tragedy has been fed into the meat grinder of election-year politics.
In the process, the most important questions about Benghazi, where Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed on Sept. 11, have largely gotten lost: Were requests for greater security for diplomats in Libya ignored? Even if Al Qaeda’s core in Pakistan has been decimated, what threat is posed by its affiliates and imitators in other countries where they have taken refuge? How can crucial diplomacy be conducted amid the dangerous chaos that has followed the toppling of dictators across the Arab world?
I’ve written multiple times, in blog posts and comments, that the talking points are the third most important part of what happened in Benghazi. Second most important is what Scott touches on regarding security in the run-up to the attack. The consulate had been attacked multiple times since early 2012. The Brits had seen similar attacks, as well as an assassination attempt on their ambassador, and had pulled out of Benghazi. We knew Islamic extremists, including al Qaeda, had been in Benghazi even before the air attacks started. The media was reporting that Benghazi was increasingly more dangerous to Westerners. We know that Stevens and a host of security consultants were screaming for more security personnel and were told “no, and stop asking”. We knew there were stated threats.
Scott does miss the most important question: why were 4 Americans left to die? Which leads to other questions, such as: What happened during the attack? Was the government of Libya asked if the US could send military forces to Benghazi? Why were no forces sent? Who told the two ex-SEALs to “stand down” twice? What was the disposition of our naval vessels in the Mediterranean, and could they have provided help? Why were no military jets sent for an over-flight to scare the terrorists during those 7 hours of the attack? Why was nothing done when intelligence saw this terrorist group forming for a spontaneous film review with heavy weapons and RPGs?
I’ve sent many Tweets to John McCain, Kelly Ayotte, Lindsay Graham, and now Susan Collins, saying that the talking points are not as important as why 4 Americans were left to die. Sure, it would be nice to know just why Team Obama decided to go with them, but, it won’t solve anything except to show that politicians lie, spin, and obfuscate.