, Salem, MA

December 7, 2012

Letter: Continue coverage of Benghazi attack

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

With all due respect, I take issue with a letter to the editor written by Mr. John E. Lawrence Jr. in the Nov. 29 issue of The Salem News (”Burns offers perspective on Benghazi attack”) concerning the attack on our consulate in Benghazi. If Mr. Lawrence believes there was no wrongdoing by the Obama administration concerning their response to this attack, then why is he afraid to continue with the congressional investigation into the tragedy? Mr. Lawrence should respect the fact that many of his fellow Americans do not like being deceived and were insulted by the excuse that the administration gave calling the attack “a spontaneous riot that grew out of protest to a YouTube video,” and want to get to the bottom of it.

The upper levels of the Obama administration, and quite possibly Obama himself (of course, still no one has mentioned his whereabouts at the time), watched the attack by terrorists on the consulate in Benghazi in real time in the situation room. It was convincingly apparent what was happening, and only the president could have ordered backup for the Americans under siege. He chose not to do so. Mr. Lawrence draws on an assessment made by ex-State Department official Nicholas Burns that there was no way reinforcements could have arrived in time to make any difference. Well, there are many others who disagree with this, including Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer. The lieutenant colonel said that we could have had jet fighters blare in at low altitude within one hour and maybe cause fear and hesitation in the terrorists until special operations troops, who enthusiastically rise to the challenge on a mission like this, could get there in two hours. And even if they were late — AT LEAST WE TRIED! The Obama administration did nothing. We used to be an America that tried to leave no man behind. Not in Obama’s America.

Furthermore, not only did the State Department deny additional security at the consulate when it was requested due to the increased risks that had emerged, in the six months leading up to the attack, it trimmed the number of fully trained Americans who can deal with a volatile situation like that. And “the act of Congress at the urging of the Republicans” had nothing to do with decreased security. The State Department had $2.2 billion in reserve funds for security. Even State Department officials said funding had nothing to do with the security situation in Benghazi.

So, in contrast with Mr. Lawrence’s request to the press to drop coverage of the investigation, I urge The Salem News to continue coverage until the truth be known, regardless of superficial assessments made by people like Nicholas Burns, the ex-State Department official who teaches at Harvard. If Mr. Burns is such an expert on foreign policy in the area, maybe he could assess not if the four slain Americans could have been saved but why they were abandoned.

Wayne Matthews