The story that continues to be unfolded regarding the September 11, 2012 terrorist assault on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya that resulted in the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, is a progressively more sordid one. The image of a hands-on commander in chief and supporting national security team competently managing a crisis in defense of critical American interests appears to have been as far removed from reality as a snowstorm in the Sahara. The growing conclusion that the American administration led by our current President was unprepared for the moment despite recurrent warnings, and when faced with the crisis, determined to do nothing but look away, is becoming more and more apparent.
The standard of the ever vigilant watchman over American interests propagated by every Presidential candidate is one that was ruminated upon by the very protagonists in this story long before Benghazi. In 2008, then Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, facing an increasing threat from the left as to her democratic nomination for the Presidency by upstart Illinois Senator Barrack Obama, framed for the voter the key question of experienced competence they should consider when selecting a President – who is best prepared to deal with the unexpected crisis? Put simply, who do you want to answer that call at 3 AM?
According now to confirmations of White House phone logs from the night of September 11, 2012 there were no phone calls between the President and his National Security team regarding the unfolding crisis at 3 AM…. Nor were there any at 1 AM, or 11PM, or 8PM. In fact, the White House under pressure from Senator Lindsey Graham to release the status of interactions from that night revealed there were NO communications that night between the President and his Secretary of State Clinton, between the President and his Secretary of Defense Panetta, or between the President and his Joint Chief of Staff General Martin Dempsey over the entire 7 to 8 hours of the progressive assault on the consulate and the annex.
In the eternity of hell that was occurring in Benghazi over an 8 hour period it appears now that nobody held the vaunted 3AM standard presidential candidate Clinton felt was so telling about the qualities of leadership paramount in representing America. Secretary of Defense Panetta and Joint Chief Dempsey stated they ignored repeated calls for backup and assistance by the beleaguered soldiers defending the annex because the State Department under Hillary Clinton never requested it, and because there wasn’t enough time. Secretary of State Clinton, the originator of the 3AM standard of leadership amazingly testified that she had no interaction that night with events, and was unaware of the threats repeatedly cabled to her by her Ambassador Stevens because ‘no one could possibly be aware of all the millions of cable transmissions that cross her desk.’ Fundamentally, she did not feel the need to understand the event further, because, as she snarled back at Senator Ron Johnson, to his question as to from whom the ongoing instructions came to UN representative Rice to continue to obfuscate on national television four days later about a supposed video inciting a peaceful rally to the destructive attack in Benghazi that night, “What difference does it make, why four people are dead ?”
Not to distract from our discussion, but please tell me what exactly is the attraction of this nation to Hillary Clinton’s skill set? With the millions of talented women out there with similar education and presentation skills, is this truly the best we can do? She has wobbled from disastrous attempts to become wealthy by means such as the Whitewater real estate fiasco and cattle futures, botched the coordination of comprehensive health care under her husband’s watch, delayed and likely obstructed federal investigations by hiding key documentation from her Rose Law firm days, accused the country of a right conspiracy attempting to destroy her husband when it was his own behavior that put him at such peril for impeachment, got run over by candidate Obama who frankly ran rings around her in electoral planning and competence, and finally, has sat at the State Department through the deterioration of relationships with Israel, Russia, China, and ongoing diplomatic flops with Arab Spring, Iran and North Korea. And now the inventor of the 3AM phone call standard is nowhere to be found during the catastrophic attack on her own ambassador and consulate, and a no show in the presentation of the Administration’s position in the aftermath. Really…Presidential material?….please people; let’s be serious.
And finally, the President himself. What kind of leader hides under a rock during an active assault on United States territory and representatives, then allows the false message to be repetitively delivered for days that the attack was a reaction to a nonsensical video, knowing all long that a coordinated attack by al Qaeda took place on the anniversary of 9/11 upon United States interests resulting in the deaths of four Americans? What kind of man feigns outrage at a debate that he would never stand by knowingly when American forces were under assault, when the record shows now he did exactly that – communicating with no one, directing no action, accepting no responsibility, and discerning no followup reaction?
We know now that President Obama was notified of at least two previous coordinated attacks on the consulate in April and June, 2012, including one that breached the wall of the consulate, preparing for the eventual assault on September 11th, but took no action to fortify the consulate’s defenses. We now know that Ambassador Stevens himself summarized the attacks and the progressive danger in an August 16th memo, and no action was taken to fortify or protect the mission by the State Department led by Ms. Clinton. We now know that the President did not discuss with the government of Libya the events until the night of September 12th, long after any local response could have been formulated or combatants apprehended. We now know it was known by multiple levels of government, that on the night of September 11th, 2012, over a hundred fifty militants, heavily armed with assault rifles, rocket powered grenades, and gun truck mounted artillery initiated a coordinated attack on the consulate killing the ambassador and staff, and hours later, on the CIA annex, killing two military defenders, likely using materials provided by the US to promote the overthrow of the Libyan strong man Gaddafi instead to be used in an attack against the US. We know now that the President barricaded his re-election on the falsehood that an obscure video by a disgruntled Egyptian Coptic was responsible for an event that was instead a spectacular indictment of months of missteps and lousy followup that have become the trademark of a foreign policy that “leads from behind”.
The record of what happened that night and the events leading to it continue to evolve, but it is a process of evidence that would likely have clamped any other President in a vice, under a blizzard of withering questions, and yet will leave this particular President unscathed. We should ask ourselves why that is, and how healthy that is, in maintaining the defense of this country and the principles upon which it supposedly stands. What is the future of the country where the 3 AM call goes unheeded, and nobody cares. With the Benghazi incident, we now know, you don’t just get a busy signal, you get no tone at all.