Obama won by the sup­press­ing truth

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Don­ald Lam­bro

One of Pres­i­dent Obama’s na­tional se­cu­rity boasts in the 2012 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion was that al Qaeda’s ranks have been “dec­i­mated,” they’re “on the run” and “on the path to de­feat.”

So when the evil ter­ror­ist net­work built by Osama bin Laden de­stroyed the U.S. Con­sulate in Libya and killed our am­bas­sador and three other of­fi­cials on Sept. 11, it sent a chill­ing mes­sage that, con­trary to Mr. Obama’s pre­pos­ter­ous claim, al Qaeda is very much alive and ca­pa­ble of killing Amer­i­cans with im­punity on U.S. soil.

In­deed, de­spite Mr. Obama’s elec­tion-year claim that al Qaeda had been all but put out of busi­ness, their deadly reach has since spread through­out the Mid­dle East, North Africa, the Far East and else­where.

This is why when their at­tacks oc­curred in Beng­hazi dur­ing the fi­nal, crit­i­cal weeks of the cam­paign, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion went to great lengths to soft-pedal its of­fi­cial ex­pla­na­tion to the point of hid­ing the fact that al Qaeda was in­volved at all.

The first ex­pla­na­tion came from the State De­part­ment, which said that the at­tack was a peace­ful protest trig­gered by anger over an anti-Mus­lim In­ter­net clip in the U.S. that got out of hand. In fact, it led to the killing of Am­bas­sador J. Christo­pher Stevens and three oth­ers, who per­ished in the fiery siege. Its state­ment made no men­tion of al Qaeda ter­ror­ists.

It was clear soon af­ter that, as de­tails tum­bled out in a flood of dis­patches and eye­wit­ness ac­counts, that this was not only a ter­ror­ist act, but by the al Qaeda net­work Mr. Obama said he had crushed.

That wasn’t the story the White House or Mr. Obama’s cam­paign ad­vis­ers wanted vot­ers to hear, be­cause they feared it would hand GOP chal­lenger Mitt Rom­ney an ef­fec­tive na­tional se­cu­rity is­sue against the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Mr. Rom­ney did im­me­di­ately crit­i­cize the State De­part­ment’s “protest” ex­pla­na­tion, cor­rectly charg­ing that this was a ter­ror­ist at­tack that raised the ques­tion why the con­sulate was not given ad­e­quate se­cu­rity to pro­tect its staff.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion quickly shot back, ac­cus­ing Mr. Rom­ney of “play­ing pol­i­tics” with the killings, a po­lit­i­cal tac­tic the White House and its al­lies in Congress have been us­ing ever since. A com­pli­ant news me­dia gave the Obama re­sponse head­line treat­ment.

But just three days af­ter the Beng­hazi killings, then-CIA Di­rec­tor David H. Pe­traeus told the House in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee be­hind closed doors that al Qaeda had led the at­tack. His con­clu­sion no doubt had al­ready been shared with the White House in Mr. Obama’s daily in­tel­li­gence brief­ing.

Nev­er­the­less, on Sept. 16, five days af­ter the killings, the White House sent U.N. Am­bas­sador Su­san E. Rice to five sep­a­rate Sun­day morn­ing TV news pro­grams, where she con­tin­ued to ped­dle the phony po­lit­i­cal ex­pla­na­tion that the at­tack started as a “spon­ta­neous re­ac­tion” to Mus­lim out­rage over the anti-Muham­mad video.

While Mrs. Rice ob­served vaguely that “ex­trem­ists” may have been in­volved in the at­tack on our con­sulate, she never ut­tered the name of “al Qaeda.”

As Repub­li­cans es­ca­lated their charge that the White House’s laun­dered nar­ra­tive of the at­tacks had the smell of a cover-up, the ad­min­is­tra­tion fi­nally ad­mit­ted pub­licly that the in­cen­di­ary killings in Beng­hazi were the work of ter­ror­ists, though there was no men­tion of al Qaeda.

“I think it’s very odd the story line they chose omit­ted al Qaeda, which would help the pres­i­dent enor­mously,” Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham of South Carolina said. Sen. John McCain of Ari­zona has been, with Mr. Gra­ham, among the White House’s fiercest Repub­li­can crit­ics of its han­dling of the at­tacks and what he per­ceives to be a cover-up to pro­tect the pres­i­dent in the fi­nal weeks of the elec­tion. Both have main­tained a drum­beat of crit­i­cism of Mrs. Rice and the White House, fu­el­ing the emerg­ing scan­dal.

Mr. Obama lashed out at his crit­ics at a White House news con­fer­ence and de­fended Mrs. Rice, charg­ing that “to besmirch her rep­u­ta­tion is out­ra­geous.” If Mr. McCain and Mr. Gra­ham “and oth­ers want to go af­ter some­body, they should go af­ter me,” he said.

The White House has had an all-pur­pose, dis­mis­sive re­sponse to the GOP’s re­lent­less as­sault of what we may now cor­rectly call “Beng­hazi­gate”: par­ti­san pol­i­tics.

The fact re­mains that two in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tees, one led by Repub­li­cans in the House and the other by the Democrats in the Se­nate, are now in­ves­ti­gat­ing who was re­spon­si­ble in the White House chain of com­mand for writ­ing a bo­gus nar­ra­tive that left out any men­tion of al Qaeda, who were the per­pe­tra­tors in the case.

There is an­other im­por­tant part of the Beng­hazi de­ba­cle that seems to have been given lit­tle or no at­ten­tion lately, and that is why the des­per­ate pleas for ad­di­tional se­cu­rity at our con­sulate fell on deaf ears at the State De­part­ment. Mr. Obama and his White House po­lit­i­cal team may think — or have de­luded them­selves into think­ing — that al Qaeda has been dec­i­mated and no longer threat­ens us.

There is a coura­geous U.S. am­bas­sador and three of his bravest as­so­ci­ates whose deaths of­fer ir­refutable tes­ti­mony that Mr. Obama’s cam­paign boasts about the end of al Qaeda are par­ti­san pol­i­tics at their worst. Don­ald Lam­bro is a syn­di­cated colum­nist and former chief po­lit­i­cal cor­re­spon­dent for The Washington Times.

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