During Thursday night’s vice presidential debate, VP Joe Biden adopted two tactics that are likely to come back to haunt both him and President Obama. When questioned about Libya, rather than take any responsibility for that deadly attack, Biden threw an agency and a community under the bus.
Regarding the lack of security at the consulate in Benghazi, Biden said that the administration just didn’t know that security officers on the ground had requested more security. The State Department says otherwise:
“We weren’t told they wanted more security. We did not know they wanted more security there,” Biden said.
In fact, two security officials who worked for the State Department in Libya at the time testified Thursday that they repeatedly requested more security and two State Department officials admitted they had denied those requests.
“All of us at post were in sync that we wanted these resources,” the top regional security officer in Libya over the summer, Eric Nordstrom, testified. “In those conversations, I was specifically told [by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Charlene Lamb] ‘You cannot request an SST extension.’ I determined I was told that because there would be too much political cost. We went ahead and requested it anyway.”
Nordstrom was so critical of the State Department’s reluctance to respond to his calls for more security that he said, “For me, the Taliban is on the inside of the building.”
Biden also called out the intelligence community, arguing that administration officials told the nation that the Benghazi assault resulted from a protest because that’s what the intelligence community told them. It’s possible that the presidentially-appointed head of the CIA, Gen David Petraeus, blamed the assault on a video. Petraeus was quoted on Sept 13 doing just that in a briefing to Congress. But by that point it was already evident that the assault was a pre-planned terrorist attack and the administration had begun its pushback against that view. The question is, did the larger intelligence community agree with Petraeus?
In a word, no.
Flashback to Sept 26: The US knew that Benghazi was a terrorist attack within the first 24 hours.
Flashback to Sept 28: The US listened in as Benghazi attackers bragged to al Qaeda.
Flashback to October 3: The Obama administration had been told Benghazi was a terrorist attack within hours.
Flashback to October 10: The State Department says that it never thought Benghazi resulted from a protest over a movie.
It’s possible that Petraeus called Benghazi wrong, and the administration’s public faces deferred to him. If that’s the case, it reinforces the view that Obama, Biden, Clinton et al are simply not experienced enough to have the wherewithall to override Petraeus even if they may not agree with him. But it’s more likely in my opinion that they adopted the protest view because that’s where their own worldview led them — to blame America rather than admit that al Qaeda is not the decimated force that Democrats have all claimed them to be. They have used “bin Laden is dead and GM is alive” so much in their campaign that they can’t publicly admit that bin Laden’s death has had little if any real world effect on what al Qaeda does or plans to do. Benghazi is glaring evidence that al Qaeda has, as Lt Col Andrew Wood testified, gained strength from the US-led intervention in Libya.
By calling out both State (on the security) and intelligence (on the video) during the debate, Biden did two things. He expanded the cover-up to now include himself, in front of the entire nation. He also declared war on two of the most dangerous segments of the US government, our diplomatic corps and our intelligence community. Both of them are skilled in the craft of moving damaging information without leaving too many tracers or fingerprints. Now, both have every reason to consider the vice president, and by extension the president, hostile actors.
More: On MSNBC, Mark Halperin agreed that Biden’s answers on Benghazi may cause big problems down the road.