The Wall Street Journal opinion page’s Review & Outlook column is a must-read for those interested in what really happened in Benghazi, Libya earlier this month. The Obama Administration’s mischaracterization of the events that resulted in Ambassador Chris Stevens’ death remains unfathomable.
The WSJ Outlook article reported
Cell phone video footage and witness testimony from Benghazi soon undercut the Administration trope of an angry march “hijacked” by a few bad people. As it turned out, the assault was well-coordinated, with fighters armed with guns, RPGs and diesel canisters, which were used to set the buildings on fire. Ambassador Chris Stevens died of smoke inhalation. Briefing Congress, the Administration changed its story and said the attacks were pre-planned and linked to al Qaeda.
You’d think this admission would focus attention on why the compound was so vulnerable to begin with. But the Administration wants to avoid this conversation. The removal of all staff from Benghazi, including a large component of intelligence officers, would also seem to hinder their ability to investigate the attacks and bring the killers to justice.
Journalists have stayed on the case, however, and their reporting is filling in the Administration’s holes. On Friday, our WSJ colleagues showed that starting in spring, U.S. intelligence had been worried about radical militias in eastern Libya. These armed groups helped topple Moammar Ghadhafi last year but weren’t demobilized as a new government has slowly found its legs. As we’ve noted since last winter, the waning of American and European interest in Libya could have dangerous consequences.
Deteriorating security was no secret. On April 10, for example, an explosive device was thrown at a convoy carrying U.N. envoy Ian Martin. On June 6, an improvised explosive device exploded outside the U.S. consulate. In late August, State warned American citizens who were planning to travel to Libya about the threat of assassinations and car bombings…
[…]Rummaging through the Benghazi compound, a CNN reporter found a seven-page notebook belonging to Ambassador Stevens. According to the network, the diary said he was concerned about the “never-ending” security threats in Benghazi and wrote that he was on an al Qaeda hit list. In deference to the family’s wishes, CNN didn’t quote directly from the diary and didn’t divulge any private information in it.
It appears that it is a fact that Ambassador Stevens died of smoke inhalation as a result of the attacks on the American consulate compound. The WSJ raises important questions about the apparent security lapses in a region crawling with armed militias and jihadists. We should welcome a nonpartisan congressional inquiry into this incident.