Sydney M. Williams
Thought of the Day
“Benghazigate”October 31, 2012
It’s been two weeks since I last wrote about the attack on our consulate in Benghazi on September 11 (“Bumps in the Road” October 15). As I wrote at that time, we may disapprove, but understand the error of omission in not providing adequate security. That security was inadequate is obvious in that four Americans died. While we can argue as to who, if anyone, should bear responsibility for the deaths, the cover-up of the causes of the attack bear one signature – that of the President.
It is, of course, almost impossible to keep all embassy staff members and others totally safe at all times in dangerous parts of the world. And, in the fog of battle, when decision makers are thousands of miles away, one can even accept, perhaps skeptically, the excuse as to why reinforcements were not provided when asked for – a lack of “Intel”, according to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Yet, it is also totally understandable why a devastated Charles Woods, father of Tyrone Woods one of the SEAL team members killed by mortar six or seven hours into the firefight would be so upset with Mr. Obama. His son had requested reinforcements, yet received none; so died on a roof top in Benghazi early in the morning of September 12.
But what remains incomprehensible and inexcusable, and what has been ignored by most of the mainstream media, is the obvious cover-up as to the cause of the attack in Benghazi – a cover-up that lasted for several weeks. It is beyond doubt that the reason for the deliberate lying as to the cause is because it did not accord with the President’s persistent campaign message that Osama bin Laden was dead and Al Qaeda was in retreat. There is little doubt, given the reams of information that have surfaced over the past several days, that the Administration was fully aware that the attack on the Consulate in Benghazi was deliberate and pre-planned, that it involved Muslim extremists with ties to Al Qaeda. It was not a spontaneous populous uprising in response to an admittedly abusive video. But why, then, did Secretary of State Hillary Clinton refer to the anti-Muslim YouTube video when she met with family members at Andrews Air Force base on the 14th? And why did the President, who now claims he did refer to the incident as “an act of terror” on September 12th, send his UN Ambassador Susan Rice on Sunday September 16 to five TV talk shows with the message that the attack was provoked by that same video?
And why did Mr. Obama persistently order his Press Secretary Jay Carney to consistently relay the same message to the Washington Press Corps? Why did Mr. Obama say the same thing to David Letterman on the 18th, a week after the attack? And why did the President, in a prepared speech to the UN on the 25th, a full two weeks after the attack, refer to the video six times, yet never mention the term terrorists?
There can be only one answer: he was deliberately misleading the American people as to the cause of the attack that killed an American Ambassador and three others. Part of Mr. Obama’s claim has been that he has been ruthless in the fight against Al Qaeda, that he had killed Osama bin Laden and that Al Qaeda was on the run. To have to admit that Al Qaeda remained a force to be reckoned with would diminish his claims and the image he was projecting.
It is a sad state of affairs for the President, for he deserves credit for aggressively pursuing bin Laden and for killing so many of its leadership. But he should have heeded President Bush’s admonition that the war against terror would take generations – that it could not be over easily or quickly. He should have re-read the history of the Watergate years and the damage a cover-up can bring to an Administration and the country. In battling Muslim terrorism, we are not fighting a country, but rather an ideology that knows no borders. It resembles the Hydra of Greek mythology, in that it is capable of regeneration. The American people understand that the death of bin Laden did not mean the death of his despicable dreams. Nevertheless, Mr. Obama chose to fabricate a convenient story that would help him get through a tough election. The American people can forgive blunders, even actions taken in error but where the intent was honorable. What they cannot forgive is a deliberate misrepresentation.
A friend who was in the Ford White House is intimately familiar with Nixon’s engineering of the Watergate cover-up. He recently wrote me of the similarities between that cover-up and Mr. Obama’s. He noted: “Nixon did not know about Watergate beforehand, but he did engineer the cover-up in order to have an unblemished election.” In like manner, it would be hard to pin the blame for security lapses in Benghazi on Mr. Obama. Even responsibility for the decision to not respond to the requests for help that evening may not be the President’s. He is, though, the one who sets the moral standard for his Administration.
The election is deflecting attention from this issue. That is unfortunate, for this is a big story. It speaks to the character of the President. “He is,” as my friend wrote, “making the same mistake as Nixon.” The truth will come out eventually. It is a story that will have legs, for what was done was so blatant and obvious. It will be better for the country if this story becomes more publicized before the election. My friend sensibly added: “Romney should stay on the high ground and remain removed from this issue, but all other conservatives [and I would add all truth seekers] should hammer this issue over the next week.”
Misjudgments are understandable and excusable. A deliberate attempt to mislead the American people is grounds for impeachment.