That’s the conclusion of Ambassador Richard S. Williamson writing about Benghazi.
“Thirty years ago, I assumed post as chief of mission in my first ambassadorship. One thing I learned from the able foreign service officers with whom I served was that if there was a legitimate security issue, all I needed to do was send a cable to the State Department’s undersecretary for management and the problem would be addressed promptly, professionally, and effectively. We now know that did not happen in Benghazi. America’s full arsenal of security assets was not deployed to protect Ambassador Stevens. Why not? How has the culture changed where legitimate security requests from a U.S. ambassador go unheeded by the State Department?” Williamson asks.
That’s one of the important questions to ask about Hillary’s time there. Under her watch, US diplomatic facilities were helpless as they came under siege and major abuses were covered up.
The State Department was run like Hillary’s campaign, instead of a professional organization dedicated to achieving serious national goals.
I’ve served four secretaries of State in a variety of positions in the State Department and in various ambassadorships. I’ve seen how the building works. Benghazi was not just a mid-level bureaucratic failure. It was a failure of leadership. The secretary of State sets the tone and the bureaucracy responds. If the secretary makes a priority of keeping American diplomats safe and secure, then the bureaucracy responds by doing the same. I know and have worked with Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy; he is an able man. But I also know that if the secretary of State had made security for our diplomats a priority, more would have been done.
And that’s the bottom line. The buck stops with the leadership. Leaders set goals and priorities. Their people carry them out. Hillary’s goals and priorities did not involve keeping diplomats safe. Whatever those goals really were, they treated people on the ground as disposable.
From the moment the Obama administration brought up the video, it was self-evidently a MacGuffin. The ugly video had been out on the Internet for months. Why had this little-seen and little-noted video launched spontaneous demonstrations around and attacks on U.S. diplomatic posts throughout the Middle East? Oh yes, it was September 11th! Now, what exactly is the significance of September 11th? And is it remotely credible that spontaneous demonstrators bring along missile launchers? As Albert Camus once wrote, we should set “ideological reflexes aside for a moment and just think.”
Why were the president and his political operatives so anxious to divert the attention of the media and the American people? Just think. It was the final phase of a hard-fought election campaign and these events pulled back the curtain on the Wizard of Oz, revealing that a pillar of the president’s reelection campaign was smoke and mirrors.
GM was alive and government subsidized, but in Syria, so was Al Qaeda.
The president and his campaign were desperate to keep a lid on Benghazi because it fundamentally challenged their narrative. It simply could not withstand close scrutiny. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. And the facts were that Islamic extremists willing to engage in terrorism were on the march across North Africa. Benghazi was but one of the developments that revealed this fact for anyone willing to look. The president’s statements about Benghazi during the foreign policy debate revealed a lawyerly slipperiness and a contortionist’s ability to bend the truth to his immediate political advantage.
There is a significant difference of opinion on how to best prosecute the war on terror. There are good people of experience and sound judgment on both sides of this debate, and it is a debate that must be joined. But it was not a debate the Obama campaign wanted to have during the 2012 presidential campaign. By all indications, it is not a debate the Obama administration ever wants to have.
No it doesn’t. Obama has reverted to Clinton era terror policies while burying the rise of Al Qaeda beneath the occasional drone strike and Bin Laden’s corpse.
Like a sniper, he claims to have defeated armies by killing a few officers. It doesn’t work that way.
The Obama political spinmeisters inside and outside of government went to work: Deny, divert, and delay the truth. Throw out misleading information and watch the media scramble. Send out the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to spin, spin, and spin some more. Have the president himself give interviews saying we don’t know if what happened was a terrorist attack, even though we did. Almost two weeks later, have the president go to the UN General Assembly and condemn that nasty video. Attack those who raise legitimate questions as politicizing a terrible tragedy, even as the administration through its misdirection, politicization, and outright misstatements was dishonoring the fallen Americans. Politics is a tough business — a contact sport — and even on national security, the Obama team played politics the Chicago way.
Why is this important? It matters because those who fail to learn from the past are likely to repeat the same mistakes. It matters because the families of those Americans killed in Benghazi on September 11th deserve to know the truth. It matters because the terror attack in Algeria, the French military incursion into Mali earlier this year, and recent terrorist plots against U.S. embassies in Tripoli and Sana’a reinforce the message of Benghazi. Killing bad guys with drones has not turned the tide in the war on terror. Al Qaeda has changed and the threat remains a clear and present danger. However well-intended, President Obama’s approach has not succeeded. We need a real, substantive, meaningful debate on how to protect America against the growing threat of Islamic extremists. That’s why Benghazi matters.