Tommy Vietor’s ignorance of the basic details of his job may have contributed to the deaths of two of the four Americans who were slain in Benghazi. The FEST was not deployed, in part because Vietor and others in the administration were ignorant of its capabilities. Vietor didn’t even know it existed, and thought it sounded “antiquated.” We’ll see what contribution Jen Psaki’s ignorance makes to the U.S. position in the world. The president sets the tone.
Either ignorance or stupidity, or the consistent tone-setting on terrorism, made another contribution to the Benghazi disaster.
In an unfortunate turn of events, on Sept. 11, a special U.S. military force based in Europe, designed specifically for quick reaction to unforeseen emergencies, was off on a training mission in Croatia. By the time the so-called Commander’s In-extremis Force was diverted to an airfield at Sigonella, Italy, an hour’s flight from Benghazi, the attacks were over.
“They didn’t get there in time to have an impact, which is unfortunate,” said a Defense Department source who was involved in the Benghazi response.
It was the anniversary of 9-11. Why was the quick reaction force closest to one of the most volatile regions off on a training exercise? Did they not see the potential for jihadists to mount an attack on that day? Why was Ambassador Stevens so exposed that day?
Jay Carney says that the president sets the tone. Based on his answers to numerous questions on a range of issues, setting the tone may well be the only thing that the president acknowledges doing. His claims add up to the president being a bystander in his own administration, not knowing about any scandals until he reads about them in the news.
On September 12, Obama set the tone again in an interview with CBS’ Steve Kroft.
KROFT: Mr. President, this morning you went out of your way to avoid the use of the word “terrorism” in connection with the Libya attack.
KROFT: Do you believe that this was a terrorist attack?
OBAMA: Well, it’s too early to know exactly how this came about, what group was involved, but obviously it was an attack on Americans.
The first rule of Fight Club is, you don’t talk about Fight Club. Obama’s first rule of terrorism is, you don’t mention terrorism. After Obama dodged the terrorism question on September 12, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would blame a movie on September 14 and Ambassador Rice would blame that movie five times on September 16. But who set the tone? The man who blamed that movie again, on the The View, on Letterman, and in an address to the United Nations.
Here we’re seeing the effect that even just setting the tone is having. Barack Obama really believes that his election was so transformative that it would end the war. It hasn’t, but this president consistently downplays terrorism and demotes its importance in his government to convince Americans that it has. His government plays games with words and organizational charts to wish the war away.
When crisis struck and one of his ambassadors may have become a hostage to jihadists, the choices that flowed naturally from the tone Obama had set had serious consequences. Four Americans including that ambassador were murdered.