The postmortem on the postmortem of the postmortem of the 9/11/12 attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi...
The 9/11/12 attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, resulted in the death of 4 Americans, including the very popular J. Christopher Stephens. The Obama administration has, throughout, maintained that assistance was not near enough or that the US did not have forces capable of assisting. Enter the so-called Benghazi Scandal.
The Republicans have maintained, until now, that the Obama Administration simply chose not to send assistance, and worse yet, that they literally lied about the incident while standing next to the coffins of our fallen Americans. Since then, there has been a daily refrain: Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi!
Something has been missing in my daily perusing of news & online chatter the last few days. I haven’t heard anyone scream Benghazi, type it in all caps, or use it as a non-sequitur during an unrelated conversation. Odd. So I went to find out why. After report and inquiry, it boils down to this:
As recently as last month, the Democratic-led Senate Intelligence Committee faulted the State Department and the intelligence community for failing to increase security at the poorly protected temporary diplomatic outpost in Benghazi and a nearby CIA compound.
As a reminder, this was a very small US outpost and starkly staffed consulate office in Libya, which has always been a volatile country. The potential for violence was inherent. The report concluded that it was not adequately secured to begin with. Still, Republicans maintained that help could have arrived from nearby to curb the attack once it had begun.
For a year and a half, Americans have heard ” Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi!” on a daily basis as the September 11, 2012 attack was discussed again and again. It has been pointed out as the largest failure of then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s political career, and a marker of ambivalence and Muslim sympathy on the part of President Obama.
Then, on Tuesday February 11, 2014, the Republican led House Committee released their findings on the incident. The report did state that their could have been a greater effort to get help to the Libya consulate more quickly, by positioning forces in the region closer prior to the attack. It concluded, ultimately, nothing more could have been done to provide assistance in time to stop the attack or save the lives of the Americans lost.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, one staffer summarized, “Armed drones and AC-130” gunships “weren’t within reasonable flying distance.” Italy-based F-16 aircraft were not on alert status, and “it is not at all certain that they would have been particularly helpful in this instance.”
In a statement, two ranking Democrats from the House Services Committee, Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.), the committee’s senior Democrat, and Rep. Niki Tsongas (Mass.), the ranking Democrat on the committee’s oversight and investigations panel, said:
“For more than a year, we have watched Republicans desperately and obsessively search for a scandal, which has not appeared. It is time to move forward. This Republican-prepared report clearly states that the Department of Defense responded appropriately, quickly, to the best of its ability to the attack on our consulate in Benghazi”.
All of the reports have been consistent in saying that the CIA, as well as the House Armed Services Committee, failed to communicate effectively with the Defense Department, and that senior officials were unaware of the intelligence annex, which also came under attack early Sept. 12 and where two of the four Americans were killed.That’s right, read that part again. Senior officials didn’t even know the full layout of the complex.
Another point of major contention was the assertion that, at the time, there had been a six-man military group based in Tripoli that had been ordered by the Obama Administration to “stand down” rather than rush to Benghazi. The majority of the group was ordered to stay in the Libyan capital to combat possible threats there. The Republican panel found this to be untrue.
According to the GOP report released Tuesday, there’s one other notable conclusion. According to a House staffer, the report concluded that post 9/11/12, the US has improved communication between the State and Defense departments. Our military forces are now “arrayed in a different way to make them more available and able to more readily respond to potential crisis locations.”
This writer assumes this includes small temporary outposts as Benghazi was. This is America, and I must note that no matter how many inquiries and reports are released, we will never know the full truth of what happened that fateful night. But, perhaps THIS report will at least, finally, put the matter to rest and we can move forward from the tragedy that was the fatal attack on our temporary Consulate outpost in Benghazi.