SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

October 18, 2012

Libyan attack deserves broader probe

The Obama administration has done a poor job keeping its story straight on the Libya consulate attack. Americans deserve a better explanation of what occurred, and why the U.S. ambassador’s concerns over security were ignored.

First, the story was that the attack on the Benghazi consulate that resulted in the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans was a disorganized protest by some devout Muslims over a crackpot’s film clip that insulted Islam. The administration stuck to this story, despite mounting evidence that the attack involved a large number of assailants, armed with heavy weapons, including mortars and engaged in reasonably sophisticated tactics.

Then, a crucial piece of information was uncovered by a reporter who ventured into the destroyed consulate — the reporter found Stevens’ diary, which laid out his concerns over security. This discovery quickly changed the direction of statements being made by our government to the American people.

Not until nearly a month after the attack, which came on the Sept. 11 anniversary, did the administration finally and conclusively acknowledge that this was a terrorist assault. And this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accepted full blame for the security problem.

But Clinton’s statements don’t put the matter to rest. That the Obama administration tried to pass off a preplanned, coordinated terrorist attack on an American consulate as nothing more than an expression of Muslim street rage over a homemade film is insulting to the American people.

The Obama administration and the State Department ignored repeated warnings from the ambassador and his staff that security there was inadequate.

Eric Nordstrom, the top U.S. regional security official in Libya, testified before the House Oversight Committee that requests for additional security were denied by the State Department to assuage Libyan political sensitivity.

“All of us at post were in sync that we wanted these resources,” Nordstrom testified, as reported in Foreign Policy magazine.

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