November 20, 2012

Robert Kagan was wrong in his defense of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice [“Stop scapegoating Susan Rice,” op-ed, Nov. 18], given not only her statements in the days following the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, but, more important, her lack of fitness for office — as detailed by Dana Milbank in his Sunday Opinion column, “The wrong person to fight for,” in the same edition of The Post.

That said, Mr. Kagan was correct in noting that what the Obama administration said or didn’t say in the days after the attack is not the big issue. The questions of who knew what regarding security at the Benghazi compound, and when they knew it, and what action was or was not taken, must be answered.

I believe Ms. Rice was ordered to present the administration’s official explanation of what occurred, with the president knowing full well that the obvious was true: What happened in Benghazi was not the action of a mob gone wild. I believe that he and officials in his administration chose to present false information to the American people because they thought they couldn’t afford the embarrassment heading into the final stretch of a competitive presidential election.

If I am right, the similarities with Watergate are striking. But the similarities end with respect to the result, which is far more tragic in this case: An ambassador and three other Americans were killed — all preventable deaths.

If I am wrong, the president should welcome the opportunity to clarify things. The integrity of his second term, and indeed his legacy, are the smallest parts by far of what is at stake.

George G. Demetriades Jr., Arlington