But some things are already clear, and one of them is that for more than three weeks following the attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi — that makes it an attack on U.S. soil — the U.S. government was either unwilling or unable to reach and secure the site. I would wager that this, in itself, is a matter of some interest in places where people hostile to the U.S.and its interests – observers ranging from terrorists to opportunistic regimes such as China and Russia — are trying to gauge the strength, reach and backbone of America. By leaving the wreckage in Benghazi so long unattended, Washington flashes a signal of extraordinary weakness.
An AP dispatch on Thursday’s FBI visit to Benghazi reported that according to the Pentagon — which provided air transport and protection for the investigators — the request for these arrangements came only several days ago, and “it took a few days to get authorization from the Libyan government and to make other necessary arrangements.”
Yes, it is vital in sending investigators to Benghazi to provide enough security so that they themselves are not in serious danger. No question that Libya right now is a complex and dangerous scene. But for America, with all its might and resources, should that require a span of more than three weeks?
Libya is a country that America, albeit “leading from behind,” helped liberate from its monstrous dictator. Some Libyans found the courage after the Sept.11 attacks to demonstrate against the attackers. Libya’s president, Mohamed Al-Megarief, was just in New York at the United Nations General Assembly last week, enjoying U.S. hospitality and security while U.S. investigators were still waiting for access to the wrecked and looted consulate in Benghazi. Was there really no way to get there sooner, or at the very least, better secure the site? Whatever the explanations, the wreckage of an American diplomatic post, hit by terrorists and then abandoned for weeks to scavengers, is a potent symbol of declining will and power — and an invitation to the next attack.
Shutterstock image via Catalin Petolea