The attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Libya and the murders of our personnel there were a blow to the very fabric of the international community. They also were an utter failure of security.
President Obama was eager to take credit after Osama bin Laden was killed, quickly jumping on national television to tell the American people about it. After the attack in Libya, with our consulate still smoldering, the president boarded a plane to Las Vegas for a fundraiser. While he did make a statement that morning, he neglected to say anything about justice for those who had committed such despicable acts. That didn’t come until later. An investigation was ordered, but it would be weeks before the FBI finally made it to the scene. CNN managed to be there just after the attack, even finding the ambassador’s diary, in which he had expressed increasing concern that he might be targeted.
Five days after the raid, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice deliberately confirmed that the attack had been spontaneous, not planned, and had come in response to an obscure anti-Islam film. All of the media coverage repeated the administration’s falsehoods, thus helping spur more protests around the Arab world. Media from the Middle East, meanwhile, reported on what was being discussed in the U.S. media, covering words from high-level U.S. officials. The irresponsible dissembling from the Obama administration thus incited, perhaps even promoted, more protests in the Middle East. All the while, the facts on the ground in Libya portrayed a different reality.
Eight days after the raid in Benghazi, the Obama administration was forced to confirm what it already knew and what all the facts coming out of Libya indicated: The attack had been well-planned, well-executed terrorism.
This administration consistently has put the president’s re-election before national security. The intelligence presented to the administration before the attack was telling. Moreover, it is clear that Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and his personnel made repeated, clear requests for more security. The administration ignored those requests, drawing down the security detail at the consulate in the weeks before the September attacks. Congress should obtain the transcripts of communication up to and during the attack, which I am sure will be damning.
Rep. Peter King, New York Republican, recently called for the resignation of Mrs. Rice. His call is a rational one that should be acknowledged by both Republicans and Democrats. Regardless of party affiliation or past performance, the ambassador has lost credibility not only with the national public but with the international community. All the facts point to a direct rebuttal of the story she told so confidently, no matter the attempt to spin it. Her job demands international credibility as America’s voice at the United Nations. Notably, Mrs. Rice was not even in the chain of command of events in Libya.
We have seen the president enlist high-ranking officials from the Defense Department to the State Department to go on news networks and respond to critics of his administration, at times in unprecedented fashion. The tamping down on potential embarrassments is not unique, just disgustingly more profound than in the past. The regular theme has been politics above national security.
With consistent, highly classified national security leaks, chest-beating from the bin Laden raid and a cover-up in Libya, the Obama administration has used the media to manufacture a false perception of its capability and responses on national security and foreign policy. The reality remains, however, that the administration has undermined our national security, hindered future operations and put the lives of troops at risk.
When an administration can’t be trusted to keep national security secrets or to tell the truth about situations adverse to re-election efforts, it’s time for change. Aren’t some things more important than politics?
Scott Taylor is president of OPSEC, a 501(c)(4) dedicated to stopping national security leaks for political gain.