“We believed the 9/11 attacks revealed four kinds of failure — imagination, policy, capabilities and management.” That is from the report on the first Sept. 11, which terrorists killed almost 3,000 people on American soil in 2011. But it seems that 11 years later the Obama administration faltered again on each of these areas in its haste to declare the war on terror over, to maximize its win in killing Osama bin Laden, to hype the end of the civil war in Libya and to present President Obama in the 2012 election as the leader who had ended conflicts.
In the Libya embassy attack on Sept. 11 this year, we can see as the story begins to unfold that the administration never imagined its diplomatic mission would be overrun by al-Qaeda forces, never developed a policy to deal with the Arab Spring or with the aftermath of the Libyan war, and denied the State Department adequate capabilities to defend itself. We’ve seen a glimpse of the abject chaos within an administration, which supposedly had one story (the correct one) but told the public another version (the phony one blaming a riot over an anti-Muslim movie).
For now I’ll focus on the policy failure. Recall this Josh Rogin report from August 2011:
“It will provide contrast to situations when the foreign government is the occupier,” said Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor for communications, in an exclusive interview on Wednesday with FP. “While there will be huge challenges ahead, one of the positive aspects here is that the Libyans are the ones who are undertaking the regime change and the ones leading the transition.”
Despite criticism from Congress and elsewhere, President Barack Obama’s strategy for the military intervention in Libya will not only result in a better outcome in Libya but also will form the basis of Obama’s preferred model for any future military interventions, Rhodes said.
“There are two principles that the president stressed at the outset [of the Libya intervention] that have borne out in our approach. The first is that we believe that it’s far more legitimate and effective for regime change to be pursued by an indigenous political movement than by the United States or foreign powers,” said Rhodes. “Secondly, we put an emphasis on burden sharing, so that the U.S. wasn’t bearing the brunt of the burden and so that you had not just international support for the effort, but also meaningful international contributions.”
You see, Libya had become not only a “win” but a way of jabbing at President George W. Bush. The Obama team would win wars with no fuss, no muss. But in fact they left an open wound into which al-Qaeda terrorists armed to their eyeballs made their way. “Leading from behind” turned into a death trap for Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
So on one level the Obama administration was resistent to the notion that al-Qaeda was still a threat, in fact a growing threat in any number of failed states. But most especially in Libya, the administration clung to the notion that this was a success story when in reality, as Lt. Col. Andrew Wood testified yesterday, al-Qaeda was much better established and armed than the Americans.
Yesterday Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) released a statement:
I commend Chairman Darrell Issa and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform for holding today’s hearing to ask important questions about the September 11th terrorist attack on our consulate in Libya. The mixed messages and facts from the Obama administration on this attack are troubling to say the least, and it’s important that we have a full accounting of how this attack was made possible so that we can prevent others like it in the future. It’s the least we can do to honor the memory of Ambassador Chris Stevens and the three Americans killed last month, and it’s what all our diplomats around the world deserve.
This week, we have learned that red flags had been raised about the security situation at our Benghazi consulate, yet those warnings were unheeded. I believe it’s important for the Senate to conduct its own inquiry, and I hope similar oversight hearings are held in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Intelligence Committee before the election
So where is the Senate? I’d think the guy who wants one day to be secretary of state, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), would want to get to the bottom of it, you know, so people wouldn’t think he was part of the cover-up.
It seems that just as a bipartisan commission was needed to get to the bottom of the security failures regarding 9-11-2001 and to make recommendations, we need a bipartisan group to do the same after 9-11-2012. Oh yes, and everyone should testify under oath.