Benghazi attack: The fog of war has led to foggy information

Benghazi attack: The fog of war has led to foggy information

Washington : DC : USA | Oct 20, 2012 at 6:33 AM PDT
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J. Christopher Stevens died when a mob attacked the US embassy in Libya

The presidential debate on Monday will focus on foreign policy. In the lead up to the debate, more conflicting information is being distrbuted by the administration and the House Republicans.

While the focus has been on whether or not the attack on the Benghazi consulate was spontaneous or a planned attack, in view of the death of Ambassador Stevens and his three collegues, semantics are not relevant to the situation. The focus should be on what was wrong and how to fix it to ensure the safety of US diplomatic personnel.

New official version of what caused the attack

The Washington Post reported on Saturday morning that intelligence officials had stated on Friday that no evidence had surfaced that the Benghazi attack was part of a planned attack. In the newest twist it suggest that it was a spontaneous attack, despite the involvement of militants with ties to al-Qaida.

According to the report, US officials also stated that there was no drone coverage until the next morning, suggesting that previous statements of live coverage were false. The report also suggests that CIA officers filed a series of cables during the assault, but those amounted to tersely worded incident reports, and did not include assessments on what had triggered the attack.

Previous disclosure and House Oversight Committee Findings

To set the record straight there are comprehensive timelines on the Libyan situation, which call the administration’s response into questions. Those are contained in a letter by the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee on Government Reform to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and timelines prepared by several media outlets.

So what was the timeline? Christopher Stevens arrived in Libya April 5, 2011 as special envoy. His task was to forge ties with the Libyan rebels who battled with Gadhafi. Stevens was appointed ambassador to Libya May 22. Read more at Libya Consulate Timeline on Allvoices

The House Oversight Committee released 166 cables yesterday, which beg more answers from the Administration. Ambassador Stevens and his security officers sounded repeated alarms to their superiors in Washington about the intensifying lawlessness and violence in Eastern Libya.

There was also the testimony that the attack was being monitored live and that alarms were sounded throughout the national security apparatus as soon as the attack commenced.

Prior to the attack on the Benghazi consulate, the International Red Cross was attacked, as well as the mission post of the UK. British diplomatic personnel and those of the IRC were removed from Benghazi, because both the Red Cross and the UK government considered Benghazi too dangerous. That raises the question why the US did not feel the same.

Ambassador Stevens reported that "Benghazi has moved from trepidation to euphoria and back as a series of violent incidents has dominated the political landscape. The individual incidents have been organized," a function of "the security vacuum that a diverse group of independent actors are exploiting for their own purposes."

Islamist extremists are able to attack the Red Cross with relative impunity. What we have seen are not random crimes of opportunity, but rather targeted and discriminate attacks. Attackers are unlikely to be deterred until authorities are at least as capable." Source: FOX

Opinion: Although the major fluff after the second presidential debate was about the semantics of a statement and whether or not Candy Crowley had interfered in the debate, there is a completely different story that needs to be focused on.

There are serious questions on the security needs of Ambassador Stevens and his staff. These include why the administration did not act. Why would the decision to permit or deny security arrangements for a diplomatic post be delegated to a senior bureaucrat. Ambassadors are the personal representative of the president of the United States. You would think, as a minimum, these decisions would be made by the Secretary of State.

Based on the circumstances and most recent revelations of this incident, it is not relevant if there is an election or not. This should be fully investigated. The results won't be known until after the election, but at least it will put the issue to rest, regardless of who wins.

From the outside looking in, it appears that are a few things broken in the State Department. It's time to fix it.

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John Christopher Stevens is the US ambassador to Libya
John Christopher Stevens is the US ambassador to Libya
Karl Gotthardt is based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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News Stories

  • Documents show Stevens worried about Libya security threats, Al Qaeda ...

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