The news media has been overwhelmed this week by the events in North Africa and the Middle East. The US Embassy in Egypt has been attacked, our Ambassador to Libya has been murdered with three other foreign service professionals in a Consulate attack and our embassy has been attacked in Yemen. Demonstrations at American Embassies in more than a dozen countries were in progress today.
The death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and members of his staff is particularly tragic since, in my view, it was preventable. London newspaper “The Independent” carried a story <source>, which I cannot confirm, that the State Department had knowledge of the Libya attack 48 hours in advance. Jay Carney, the Administration Press Secretary denies this stating they had no actionable intelligence – a weasel denial to my ears. The Independent story has been cited by Ben Shapiro <source> and Tim Brown <source>
But even if not true, there can be no doubt that there have been recent attacks in Libya demonstrating a lack of central authority to restore order. And further there is no doubt that the attack occurred on 9/11. I do not understand why we would not have had all American diplomatic or military facilities in Muslim or Middle East countries on a high state of alert on September 11 as there have been expectations of terrorist attacks on the anniversary of the 9/11/2001 attacks every year since they occurred.
The Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the safe house provided for protection of staff were not hardened facilities and offered little protection for the Ambassador. Intelligence experts believe that the attackers may have been too heavily armed to be random demonstrators and may have been elements of al-Qaeda carrying out a revenge attack for the death of of a highly placed member of al-Qaeda in Libya three months ago. We certainly knew that demonstrations were coming in Cairo at least 24 hours in advance. Why would the Ambassador who had just returned from a trip in Europe be placed in harm's way in a Consulate facility rather than delay his return until after 9/11 or return him to the Embassy in Tripoli.
Of note there have been eight US Ambassadors who have died in the line of duty since 1950 (none previously) – two in plane crashes and six by armed attacks. The last murder of an American Ambassador occurred in 1979 when Adolph Dubs, Ambassador to Afghanistan, died in a kidnapping and subsequent Afghan security service attempt at rescue.
As I began to draft this post, I watched the return of the four murdered diplomats including Ambassador Stevens to Andrews AFB near Washington. Nice ceremony, nice speeches and regrets. I do not want to bring politics into this subject – but I feel that I have no choice. I believe the public should examine what I believed to be the continued failure of leadership by the President in the Middle East and elsewhere. I want to have the news media ask the President about why these American heroes were not protected. Where is the news media ? Why aren't important questions about safety of Americans at home and abroad being asked of this President. It is one thing for a Senator and candidate for President to take a couple of years off to devote to his campaign – but I am offended that the President of the United States seems to be more concerned about re-election than doing his job. Perhaps some of the Libya updates were presented in the more than 50% of the daily intelligence briefings at the White House that the President has been too busy to attend during his term. And yet the media is more interested in Candidate Romney's statements and their timing than in the failures of the Administration.
My frustration for this event is blurring my original intent in writing this post. I honor the memory and service of Ambassador Chris Stevens and members of his staff, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods as well as other Consulate staff who were injured in the Libyan attack. These men deserved better. Tim Brown, in a separate article <source> notes that Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President – but with no national security portfolio – receives a full secret service protection detail. Really.