The drip, drip, drip of Beng­hazi

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

Another day, another rev­e­la­tion on Beng­hazi. The “bi­par­ti­san” Se­nate Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence last week put out a scathing re­port on the Sept. 11, 2012, at­tack on U.S. diplo­matic out­posts in Libya, cit­ing “sys­tem­atic fail­ures” that led to the death of Am­bas­sador J. Christo­pher Stevens and three other Amer­i­cans.

While the heav­ily redacted re­port re­leased to the Amer­i­can pub­lic spread the blame, the com­mit­tee re­peat­edly pointed the fin­ger at for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton’s State Depart­ment.

In per­haps the most sig­nif­i­cant find­ing, the re­port said the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity (IC), in­clud­ing the CIA, NSA and Pen­tagon, among oth­ers, de­liv­ered many warn­ings on the grow­ing threats in Beng­hazi, but the State Depart­ment failed to take them se­ri­ously and in­crease se­cu­rity.

“Find­ing 1: In the months be­fore the at­tacks on Septem­ber 11, 2012, the IC pro­vided am­ple strate­gic warn­ing that the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in east­ern Libya was de­te­ri­o­rat­ing and the U.S. fa­cil­i­ties and per­son­nel were at risk in Beng­hazi,” the re­port said.

More: “The IC pro­duced hun­dreds of an­a­lytic re­ports in the months pre­ced­ing the Septem­ber 11-12, 2012, at­tacks, pro­vid­ing strate­gic warn­ing that mili­tias and ter­ror­ist and af­fil­i­ated groups had the ca­pa­bil­ity and in­tent to strike the U.S. and Western fa­cil­i­ties and per­son­nel in Libya.”

Those “an­a­lytic re­ports” came with stark ti­tles. “Libya: Ter­ror­ists Now Tar­get­ing U.S. and Western In­ter­ests,” said one from June 2012. “Ter­ror­ism: Con­di­tions Ripe for More At­tacks, Ter­ror­ist Safe Haven in Libya,” said another. And, “Libya: Ter­ror­ists to In­crease Strength Dur­ing Next Six Months.”

The com­mit­tee’s con­clu­sion: “Given th­ese de­vel­op­ments and the avail­able in­tel­li­gence at the time, the com­mit­tee be­lieves the State Depart­ment should have rec­og­nized the need to in­crease se­cu­rity to a level com­men­su­rate with the threat, or sus­pend op­er­a­tions in Beng­hazi.”

The new re­port also ripped the State Depart­ment for what it did af­ter the at­tack. “In fin­ished re­ports af­ter Septem­ber 11, 2012, in­tel­li­gence an­a­lysts in­ac­cu­rately re­ferred to the pres­ence of a protest at the Mis­sion fa­cil­ity be­fore the at­tack based on open source in­for­ma­tion and lim­ited in­tel­li­gence, but with­out suf­fi­cient in­tel­li­gence or eye­wit­ness state­ments to cor­rob­o­rate that as­ser­tion. The IC took too long to cor­rect th­ese er­ro­neous re­ports, which caused con­fu­sion and in­flu­enced the pub­lic state­ments of pol­i­cy­mak­ers.”

In the days af­ter the at­tack, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion dis­patched the U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions, Su­san Rice, to the Sun­day talk shows to de­tail what the White House knew. She said on Sept. 16 that the at­tack­ers gath­ered “spon­ta­neously” to protest at the U.S. diplo­matic com­pound in Beng­hazi. Within days, se­cu­rity footage from in­side the com­pound proved there was no protest, but months later, Mrs. Clin­ton asked: “Was it be­cause of a protest or be­cause of guys out for a walk one night and de­cided to go kill some Amer­i­cans? At this point what dif­fer­ence does it make, se­na­tor?”

What’s more, the re­port con­cluded that ter­ror­ists con­nected to al Qaeda were in fact present at the at­tack — con­tra­dict­ing what a De­cem­ber ar­ti­cle in The New York Times as­serted. “In­di­vid­u­als af­fil­i­ated with ter­ror­ist groups, in­clud­ing AQIM (al Qaeda in the Is­lamic Maghreb), An­sar al-Sharia, AQAP (al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula), and the Mo­ham­mad Ja­mal Net­work (which the State Depart­ment says is con­nected to al Qaeda), par­tic­i­pated in the Septem­ber 11, 2012, at­tacks,” the re­port said.

In fact, the re­port uses the word “ter­ror­ist” 70 times — some­thing it took the pres­i­dent and his min­ions weeks to use. Later re­ports show the White House knew within hours that the at­tack was ter­ror­ism.

The bi­par­ti­san re­port was dev­as­tat­ing to hard-left po­lit­i­cal pun­dits, who have been push­ing the no­tion that Beng­hazi is all smoke and no fire. And at least two seized on an ab­so­lutely de­spi­ca­ble an­gle.

“What the Se­nate re­port found was that they ac­tu­ally agreed — a bi­par­ti­san agree­ment on the facts — which was that the at­tack was pre­ventable, and they raised sev­eral ar­eas where it could have been pre­vented, like Am­bas­sador Stevens un­for­tu­nately re­fus­ing help from Cen­tral Com­mand Gen­eral [Carter] Ham when it was of­fered — twice,” Demo­cratic talk­ing head Hil­lary Rosen said on CNN.

Blovi­a­tor Piers Mor­gan went a step fur­ther. “Is it fair to also say that he as the am­bas­sador should have done more to re­act to di­rect warn­ings that he was given on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions?”

Democrats will con­tinue to grasp at straws, but the lat­est re­port clearly sig­nals that Congress needs to re­open all in­ves­ti­ga­tions to get to the bot­tom of what top Obama of­fi­cials knew and when they knew it. And Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton should be front and center of the probes.

A Repub­li­can se­na­tor, Su­san Collins of Maine, summed up the re­port in one tren­chant sen­tence: “A bro­ken sys­tem over­seen by se­nior lead­er­ship con­trib­uted to the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of U.S. diplo­mats ... in one of the most dan­ger­ous cities in the world, and yet the sec­re­tary of state has not held any­one re­spon­si­ble for the sys­tem’s fail­ings.”

Joseph Curl cov­ered the White House and pol­i­tics for a decade for The Wash­ing­ton Times and is now ed­i­tor of the Drudge Re­port. He can be reached at josephcurl@gmail.com and on Twit­ter @josephcurl.

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