The walls are figuratively closing in on the president on Libya. It is one thing for the New York Times to clue into the story but when Jon Stewart calls foul you’re in trouble:
The bad news keeps coming for the administration, which initially claimed no intelligence could have alerted them to the potential for an attack. Eli Lake, once again, has the goods. He reports: “In the five months leading up to this year’s 9/11 anniversary, there were two bombings on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and increasing threats to and attacks on the Libyan nationals hired to provide security at the U.S. missions in Tripoli and Benghazi.” The information comes from whistleblowers reaching out to House Republicans, according to Lake, which suggests that the “official” story isn’t the true or complete one. (“Rep. [Jason] Chaffetz told the Daily Beast on Monday that the allegations detailed in the letter were based on whistleblowers he described as ‘people who have firsthand knowledge of the incidents themselves.’ Chaffetz declined to provide more details about the whistleblowers other than to say they were U.S. government employees and there were fewer than 10 of them.”) It seems the coverup goes on while underlings are trying to get the facts out.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) told Fox News, “I argue the administration made some serious mistakes when they highlighted the video, escalated its credibility to the presidential level and then took it on TV in Pakistan with U.S. taxpayers dollars.. . . I think those are all serious mistakes that we’re paying the price for.” According to Fox News, Rogers “suggested the problem stemmed from the Obama administration seeing the intelligence as ‘what they wanted it to be — not what it was.’”
In the broader picture, we now know that the administration did not anticipate the dangers unleashed by the Arab Spring. The Wall Street Journal reports, “Intelligence officials now believe the attack was carried out by local militants who were in contact with regional members of al Qaeda-affiliated groups, using the eruption of protests elsewhere as an opportunity to mount an assault on U.S. installations. That belated conclusion has raised questions about the adequacy of intelligence and security preparations at U.S. diplomatic posts abroad as they confront both old and newer risks.” Moreover, we now know that “[f]ighters linked to one freed militant, Muhammad Jamal Abu Ahmad, took part in the Sept. 11 attack on U.S. diplomatic outposts in Libya that killed four Americans, U.S. officials believe based on initial reports. Intelligence reports suggest that some of the attackers trained at camps he established in the Libyan Desert, a former U.S. official said.”
What is the Romney campaign saying about Libya? Well, the campaign has moved from having its candidates term the Obama administration’s reaction “confused” or slow to sending journalists links to stories making clear that the White House was not leveling with voters about the threats that should have alerted U.S. officials to the danger posed to our diplomats.
Might Romney and Ryan actually say some of these things themselves? Well, they seem to be inching in the direction of a more sharply framed attack on the president. Since this appears to be the biggest foreign policy fiasco of the administration (other than its failed Iran policy and its mangled relationship with Israel), Romney would be wise to bring it up some time soon. He’s not got much time left in the race, you know.