ML: But they should have known it was coming, even if they didn’t have advance details.
JJA: Precisely. It should have been obvious. The key line in that quotation from State is their concern about contacts with official and “normal” Libyans. In fact, if you go back and listen to Obama’s early claims that it was all about the video trailer, you’ll hear him say things like “those demonstrations were understandable.”
ML: You got a link to that?
JJA: It’s in that one cloud over by my apartment…
ML: HoHO! You made a funny….In fact, in the weeks leading up to the attack in Benghazi, State actually withdrew an American security team. As John Bolton and Andy McCarthy said right away, it looked like the administration wanted to deny the reality they should have seen, in favor of a myth they wanted to believe: that Obama’s policies had made the Middle East–indeed, the whole world–a safer and better place for good Americans.
JJA: No deception is as effective as self-deception, but even if they were unprepared for the assault, it is still remarkable, and disgusting, that they did not take some action to save the men on the ground. And you can’t explain that by saying “they didn’t want people to see that the policy wasn’t working very well,” since everyone was going to see that anyway, whatever the “cause” of the attack.
ML: If we had saved the men on the ground, Obama and Hillary and Petraeus could still have claimed that the fighting was provoked by the video.
JJA: Sure. The failure to act–apparently despite watching and hearing about the slaughter in real time, thanks to a drone with a camera and an eye witness reporting to Washington–requires a different sort of explanation.
At which point, as you might have expected, the static got worse.
ML: So why?
JJA: Probably no short simple answer…SNARFLE! CRACK! GARGLE!…usual inability to make decisions and make them stick…RUMBLE!…afraid the attackers had anti-aircraft missiles, didn’t want a replay of Carter’s or Clinton’s failed military…ZOT!…
and he was gone. So I’ll finish it up. The big reason is fear of failure, a big public failure. It was easier to live with tragedy and even a perception of indecisiveness-verging-on-cowardice than with an AC130 gunship going down in flames.
Did we know the assailants had such missiles? I don’t know. I’d guess we didn’t “know,” any more than we “knew” precisely who they were. Certainly a big part of Stevens’ mission was to recover the materiel left on the ground by Qadaffi’s troops, much of which was captured by the jihadis. It may have been reasonable to fear that the attackers had some.
Still, I wish Angleton had stayed online another couple of minutes…