The Shores of Tripoli
Well, Benghazi, anyway. My New York Post column today examines the unfolding mess that is the Libyan situation:
How is the Obama White House going to fit the entire State Department and the intelligence community under the bus?
Last month’s Benghazi fiasco saw four Americans — including our ambassador to Libya — murdered by elements of al Qaeda in a military-style assault timed to coincide with the 11th anniversary of 9/11.
The weeks afterward saw the administration blaming a video that, even the White House now admits, had nothing to do with it. And the months before the attack saw Washington adamantly reducing security in Benghazi — despite pleas for reinforcements from the folks on the ground.
Yet President Obama’s top spokesman — and Vice President Joe Biden, in last week’s debate — have been busy pointing fingers of blame at State and the IC.
It won’t work. Neither Foggy Bottom nor the intel community’s legion of spooks, analysts and secret-keepers is likely to go quietly.
And that's an understatement. Behind the scenes -- in Langley, Fort Meade, Anacostia, and elsewhere in the Intelligence Community -- spooks and analysts are sharpening their knives for the Obama administration, which, having chosen to pick a fight both with the IC and the Clintons, apparently has some sort of death wish.
The national media's still doing its level best to keep Benghazi off the front pages, but its effort is doomed to failure. It's worth repeating: our ambassador to Libya was (it now seems) lured to Benghazi and assassinated; that night, Barack Hussein Obama, evincing not the slightest interest in or sympathy for Chris Stevens' fate, flew off to Las Vegas for a fundraiser. Instead, his increasingly desperate administration issued a squid-ink fog of confusion, blaming an obscure YouTube video for what the IC knew almost immediately was a terrorist assault on American soil. And then, when that legend collapsed, blamed the State Department and the IC for letting it down.
They knew it because -- and perhaps this is just the thriller writer in me -- there may have been double agents within State or the IC itself who lured Stevens back to Benghazi with a false sense of security, and thus to his death.
This shouldn't surprise anybody; after all, in Afghanistan, trusted locals shoot our troops in the back on a near-weekly basis. And it certainly explains the comment, which went largely unremarked by incurious newspaper stenographers and DNC media flunkies, by a State Department regional security officer, Eric Nordstrom, that "the Taliban is on the inside of the building" -- by which he meant Foggy Bottom.
Further, one of the ambassadorial duties, especially in third-world backwaters like Libya, is the supervision of the local CIA operation. (In real countries, that oversight is usually delegated to a consul general.) It should come as no surprise that Stevens would be actively working with Agency personnel, especially given that the "safe house" to which the consular staff tried to flee was also the CIA station.
So the real question is not political -- what did the president know and when did he know it? -- but geo-political. Someone in State, or its Bureau of Intelligence and Research, or in the IC (and most likely the CIA) very likely burned Chris Stevens and sent him to his death.
If the administration has a better explanation for what really happened, we'd all be very happy to hear it.
UPDATE: Hillary Clinton says the buck stops with her, sort of:
Lima, Peru (CNN) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday tried to douse a political firestorm around the deadly assault on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya, saying she is responsible for the security of American diplomatic outposts.
"I take responsibility" for the protection of U.S. diplomats, Clinton said during a visit to Peru. But she said an investigation now under way will ultimately determine what happened in the attack that left four Americans dead...
Clinton said President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are not involved in security decisions.
"I want to avoid some kind of political gotcha," she added, noting that it is close to the election.
In other words: shut up, she explained.