Five unan­swered ques­tions about Beng­hazi

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Sens. John Mccain, Lind­sey Gra­ham, Kelly Ay­otte and Ron John­son

Nearly two months af­ter the murder of four Amer­i­can cit­i­zens in Beng­hazi, Libya, in­clud­ing U.S. Am­bas­sador J. Christo­pher Stevens, there re­main many more ques­tions sur­round­ing this tragedy than cred­i­ble an­swers pro­vided by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion. The Amer­i­can peo­ple want to know what hap­pened on Sept. 11, 2012, and they de­serve to hear an ex­pla­na­tion di­rectly from the pres­i­dent. Among the many ques­tions that still need to be an­swered about the Beng­hazi at­tack, here are five of the most im­por­tant ones.

was se­cu­rity at the con­sulate so in­ad­e­quate de­spite two pre­vi­ous at­tacks this year and the re­peated pleas over many months from se­cu­rity agents on the ground and our am­bas­sador for greater as­sis­tance? af­ter mul­ti­ple at­tacks this year on our con­sulate and other Western in­ter­ests in Beng­hazi, why were our forces in the re­gion not ready and po­si­tioned to re­spond rapidly to this fore­see­able emer­gency? Syria — and when one of these al Qaeda-af­fil­i­ated groups has killed a U.S. am­bas­sador and three other Amer­i­cans and driven us out of Beng­hazi?

Rather than pro­vid­ing straight­for­ward an­swers to the Amer­i­can peo­ple on these and other ques­tions, the ad­min­is­tra­tion has been play­ing a blame game ever since the at­tack oc­curred.

First, of­fi­cials sought to blame the at­tack on a spon­ta­neous demon­stra­tion caused by a hate­ful video.

When it was re­ported that no such demon­stra­tion had oc­curred and the at­tack clearly had been com­mit­ted by ter­ror­ists af­fil­i­ated with al Qaeda, the ad­min­is­tra­tion next sought to shift blame to the in­tel­li­gence community.

Now the ad­min­is­tra­tion is cit­ing a lack of sit­u­a­tional aware­ness in Beng­hazi as why no U.S. mil­i­tary per­son­nel or as­sets were called in to re­spond to the at­tack, which lasted nearly seven hours.

Emails sent from our per­son­nel on the ground in Beng­hazi within hours af­ter the at­tack be­gan clearly iden­ti­fied it as a so­phis­ti­cated mil­i­tant at­tack.

There never should have been any de­bate over this point.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion knew within hours af­ter the as­sault on our con­sulate be­gan that it was a ter­ror­ist at­tack.

Though the at­tack oc­curred on the an­niver­sary of the worst ter­ror­ist atroc­ity in our his­tory, and though it was pre­ceded by two ear­lier at­tacks on our con­sulate in Beng­hazi this year, the ad­min­is­tra­tion did not have ad­e­quate forces ready and in po­si­tion in the re­gion to re­spond to this fore­see­able at­tack.

Re­gard­less of what the pres­i­dent said in the Rose Gar­den on Sept. 12, the fact is that he and mem­bers of his ad­min­is­tra­tion re­fused to char­ac­ter­ize the at­tack in Beng­hazi as an act of ter­ror­ism for as long as two weeks af­ter the at­tack. The pres­i­dent him­self spoke about the events in Beng­hazi at length in his speech to the U.N. Gen­eral Assem­bly on Sept. 25 and never once char­ac­ter­ized the at­tack as an act of ter­ror­ism.

In press in­ter­views around the same time, the pres­i­dent in­stead sought to blame the at­tack on a demon­stra­tion against the video.

Ul­ti­mately, the rea­son it is so im­por­tant to learn all of the facts sur­round­ing the at­tack in Beng­hazi is be­cause there are larger na­tional se­cu­rity is­sues at stake.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion wants us to be­lieve it has di­min­ished the threats posed by ter­ror­ism — that “the tide of war is re­ced­ing,” as Mr. Obama has said — and now we can fo­cus on “na­tion­build­ing at home.”

The tragic events in Beng­hazi show how false and mis­lead­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s nar­ra­tive is.

The fact that it con­tin­ues to act un­der this mis­guided as­sump­tion is only in­creas­ing the dan­gers we face around the world.

We do not need an ad­min­is­tra­tion-led in­ves­ti­ga­tion to an­swer the ques­tion of what the pres­i­dent knew, what he was told and what ac­tion he chose to take be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter the Beng­hazi at­tack.

The Amer­i­can peo­ple de­serve to know the facts about the at­tack in Beng­hazi, and the facts that have come to light thus far paint a dis­turb­ing pic­ture the pres­i­dent needs to step for­ward and ex­plain. John McCain of Ari­zona, Lind­sey Gra­ham of South Carolina, Kelly Ay­otte of New Hamp­shire and Ron John­son of Wis­con­sin are Repub­li­can sen­a­tors.

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