An American Ambassador can’t manage all the risks when posted aboard. The late Ambassador Chris Stevens probably knew this more than anyone. But after action reports and reviews are revealing the truth about the attack that led to Ambassador Stevens death.
Reuters reported yesterday, what I had blogged about several weeks ago, that elements of al-Qaeda were involved but the Obama Administration played down that connection.
(Reuters) – Within hours of last month’s attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, President Barack Obama’s administration received about a dozen intelligence reports suggesting militants connected to al Qaeda were involved, three government sources said.
Despite these reports, in public statements and private meetings, top U.S. officials spent nearly two weeks highlighting intelligence suggesting that the attacks were spontaneous protests against an anti-Muslim film, while playing down the involvement of organized militant groups.
It was not until last Friday that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s office issued an unusual public statement, which described how the picture that intelligence agencies presented to U.S. policymakers had “evolved” into an acknowledgement that the attacks were “deliberate and organized” and “carried out by extremists.”
The Daily Beast website reported last week that in the hours after the attack, U.S. intelligence agencies monitored communications between members of Ansar al-Sharia and AQIM. Ansar al-Sharia operatives “bragged” about their attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission and acted as if they were “subordinate” to AQIM, it quoted a U.S. official as saying.
It now appears questionable that the anti-Muslim film, which sparked a violent protest against the U.S. Embassy in Cairo earlier on September 11, played a significant role in the Benghazi attack. Some U.S. officials have not foreclosed that possibility.
Unfortunately, critics are seeking to make UN Ambassador Dr. Susan Rice the scapegoat for her statements denying a terrorist connection. NY Congressman Peter King has called for Dr. Rice’s resignation.
Dr. Rice’s career should not be derailed because she communicated an incomplete assessment of the deadly attack in Benghazi. Many believe that she is in line to become US Secretary of State in a second Obama term.
Conservative firebrand Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold an oversight hearing next week.
In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Issa asks that she answer reports of undisclosed threats and attacks against the consulate, Ambassador Stevens and Americans in Libya.
The Hill reports that
The letter from Issa and Chaffetz for the first time reveals an April 6 attack against the consulate in which two former security guards threw homemade improvised explosives over the building’s fence. It also says militants made no secret of their intention to target Americans in Libya.
In a move separate from the Issa hearing, The Hill reported that several Republican chairmen of committees with jurisdiction over national security sent a joint letter to President Obama requesting a briefing on the circumstances surrounding the Benghazi attack.
The letter to Obama requests information about
…“the intelligence leading up to the attack, the security posture of our embassy, the role former Guantánamo Bay detainees may have played, as well as the way forward in Libya and, indeed, the region.”
The issues raised in the Congressional request letter are the same ones I wrote about that needed to be addressed. But it’s beginning to look as though Ambassador Stevens was involved in advising on the security posture of the embassy in Tripoli, the Benghazi consulate, and himself.
I continue to believe that it was no coincidence that the attack occurred on the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on America and five months after the death of Osama bin Laden. I must again recommend MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow’s fine effort at providing context and connecting — at the time — unseen dots. Today, those dots continue to emerge and they will soon be connected.
Like you, I look forward to next week’s hearing to be revealing. Call me a cynic but I think President Obama’s October surprise will occur within the next two weeks. The AQIM should make their peace with this world and prepare for the next.