EDITORIAL: Obama’s deadly oversight

Administration needs to come clean on its failure to protect Americans

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The more the country learns about what happened in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, the less credible the White House version of events becomes.

The House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on the terror attack that took the life of U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. The committee is expected to focus on the Obama administration’s blindness to the clear and present terrorist threat in Benghazi. Internal communications confirm the administration had been forewarned of the increasing vulnerability of U.S. and Western interests, but the State Department apparently chose to deny requests to maintain or increase security.

It was clear for months that Benghazi was growing more hazardous by the day. A series of terror attacks had taken place in the months leading up to the Sept. 11 assault, including a bombing attack in June on the same U.S. Consulate when the ambassador was visiting the country. Newspaper reports and other open sources carried specific threats from al Qaeda-linked terrorist groups and others, as well as reports of failed and successful attacks. It should come as no surprise that Mr. Stevens was trying to augment his security detail. Not only was Benghazi insecure, Mr. Stevens was a prime terrorist target.

The committee will also inquire into the shifting and conflicting administration accounts of what happened. The notion that the consulate assault was a spontaneous reaction to a low-budget YouTube video lacked credibility from the start. Reports from the scene showed the attackers were too well armed, too systematic and too well informed to be part of some random street mob. The committee may bring up Sufyan Ben Qumu, an al Qaeda terrorist and former Guantanamo inmate who allegedly played a central role in the events. The attackers were sophisticated terrorists, who had a plan in place and executed a swift, stunning and ultimately fatal operation.

The White House wanted to shift blame from Islamic extremists to the video to provide President Obama with a platform he could use to lecture Americans on tolerance — anything to avoid the perception that the war on terrorism is not going as well as advertised. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice stuck to this line well beyond its expiration date. Days before Mrs. Rice’s public statements, Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick F. Kennedy had already admitted that the assault was an act of terrorism. Mrs. Rice maintains that the “mob attack” theory was the best information available at the time she spoke, citing internal intelligence reports. However, White House attempts to lay the blame for the YouTube story on the intelligence community have met with some pushback from the spy agencies. More probably the analysts knew all along that there was a threat in Benghazi but their warnings were ignored because they did not fit the rosy White House narrative. Election-year politics trumped the facts on the ground. The consequences were deadly.

The Washington Times

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