Vice President Biden’s assertions during the debate last night showed either a lack of information or a willful disregard for the facts.
Biden stated in relation to the September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi—which killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens—that “We weren’t told they wanted more security. We did not know they wanted more security there.”
Biden’s assertions squarely contradict headline-grabbing testimony given just the day before to Members of Congress. At Wednesday’s hearing of the House Oversight and Government Accountability Committee, Eric Nordstrom, a regional security officer at the U.S.embassy in Tripoli, described his intense frustration at having his requests for more security turned down by State Department officials. In fact, said the exasperated Nordstrom, fighting violent extremists inLibya was nowhere near as tough as fighting bureaucrats inWashington.
A timeline of the events leading up to the terrorist attack on September 11 shows that terrorism is indeed alive and well in Libya, a very inconvenient fact for the Obama Administration. The U.S. consulate had been attacked with explosive devices twice in six months, and diplomatic vehicles were routinely targets of assault and attempted kidnappings. The British ambassador had also been attacked, as had the building of the International Red Cross.
The Obama Administration continues to cling to the fiction that Libya is an Arab Spring success story, where normalizing relations and downgrading security would be appropriate. Even in the face of this terrorist attack, Charlene Lamb, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security, stated at Wednesday’s hearing that security in Libya was “exactly right.” Unbelievable.
The aftermath of the Benghazi attack—one might call it the cover-up—is equally messy. The State Department appears determined to not take the blame and is shifting blame back to the White House for the post-attack cover-up. In two conference calls Tuesday—one with staff of five congressional committees and one with reporters (minus Fox News)—unnamed State Department officials denied that there was ever a demonstration outside the Benghazi consulate over the anti-Islam YouTube video “The Innocence of Muslims.” “That was not our conclusion,” the officials said repeatedly.
This distances the State Department from the official White House line that the 14-minute amateurish video was the cause of it all and not resurgent al-Qaeda terrorism. In particular, it distances the State Department from U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and her five now-famous Sunday show appearances in which she unswervingly peddled the White House line as a fact.
Most importantly, however, it is now amply clear that terrorism did not die with Osama bin Laden and that we do not have a policy to deal with it. The Vice President got that one wrong, too.