THE OTHER 9/11

When you hear the phrase “9/11,” what comes to mind? The terrorist attack that brought down the World Trade Center, right? That was truly a heinous, cowardly act and a tragedy for America in more ways than one. But, there was another heinous, cowardly act perpetrated against America on 9/11, which the Administration seems to have placed on the back burner hoping it will be forgotten. I’m referring to the terrorist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the Ambassador, on 9/11/2012.

A whole year has passed, and we are no closer to bringing the perpetrators to justice. How can this be? How could the US, with its vast resources, have failed so utterly and completely to identify, locate and punish the perpetrators? Furthermore, how can it be that despite a lengthy internal investigation and various Congressional hearings no one in the Administration or the State Department has been held accountable? I don’t want to repeat everything I said last year in my initial Benghazi blog, but we should remember the highlights (or, if you prefer, the lowlights). This tragedy was mishandled from the beginning.

1. Before the attack, security at the consulate was insufficient and was not beefed up despite repeated requests from embassy personnel on location and the impending symbolic 9/11 date.

2. Special forces based in Tripoli could have been tasked to counterattack and could have arrived in time to save some or all of the four who were murdered, but the commander of those forces, Colonel Gibson, has reported he was ordered to “stand down.” This account is supported by Mr. Gregory Hicks, the former Deputy of Mission in Libya, who testified before Congress that he was standing next to Colonel Gibson when Gibson was given the order. The person who gave the “stand down” order has never been identified, and in point of fact, the Pentagon and the Administration have denied such an order was ever given.

3. The Administration, including the State Department, claimed for months that the attack was just a demonstration that got out of hand. In addition, they claimed that the demonstration was set off by an anti-Muslim video. The dissemination of this preposterous assertion was aided and abetted by most of the media, which wanted to support Mr. Obama’s claim that it was not a terrorist attack. A terrorist attack resulting in the death of four Americans would have damaged his re-election prospects, particularly since he had claimed that under his Administration the US had “gutted the core” of Al Qaeda and that they “no longer had the capacity or resources to wage another 9/11-style attack.”

4. Mr. Romney failed to pursue this aggressively during the final Presidential debate and the final weeks of the campaign, an error which, I believe, cost him the election.

5. Neither the Congress nor the Pickering-Mullen Special Panel has been able to get to the bottom of this.

6. Most puzzling of all is the fact that one of alleged leaders of the attack, Ahmed Abu Khattalah, has been giving interviews to the media, yet the Administration has claimed it cannot apprehend him.

7. In January 2013 Hillary Clinton, while testifying before Congress on this tragedy, stated callously “… the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided to go kill some Americans? WHAT DIFFERENCE AT THIS POINT DOES IT MATTER?” To me, that careless, heartless comment, shows how she feels about the matter and her personality, in general.

PREDICTION AND CONCLUSION

The Administration has failed not only the American people, but also the family members of the murdered diplomats. The safety of diplomats serving in foreign countries is supposed to be sacrosanct. President Obama, Secretary Clinton, the FBI and others have told the family members that finding their relatives’ murders and bringing them to justice would be a “top priority.” Yet, one year later, no arrests have been made despite the fact that Khattalah has been out in the open socializing in coffee houses, giving interviews to the media, “hiding in plain site,” as it were. Why can’t the Administration pressure the Libyan government to give him up, or failing that just go in and get him? Your guess is as good as mine, but it is consistent with the pattern I have outlined above. It is also consistent with Mr. Obama’s failure to resolve any of the other scandals and embarrassments of his Administration – Fast and Furious, IRS, NSA, to name a few.

The Day of Reckoning is approaching – Election Day 2014, followed by 2016. I believe the voters will speak loudly and clearly. One can only hope.

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SYRIA UPDATE

Does the situation in Syria concern you? It should. If you are not one of the 50% of Americans who are oblivious to world events, it should concern you very much. It doesn’t matter if you are a liberal or conservative, a Republican or Democrat, young or old, black or white. We have been painted into a corner, and there is no easy way out.

Simply put, whether or not we launch an attack to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons the ramifications are unknown and could result in a broader conflict and/or enhanced terrorist attacks prospectively. Proponents of an attack say that if we don’t respond it will embolden Iran, North Korea and various terrorist groups. They will conclude that we are a paper tiger, a weakling and not to be feared or respected. History has shown that appeasement does not work.

On the other hand, there is no guarantee that an attack, as proposed by the Administration, will accomplish anything meaningful. The administration has promised a very limited response. What does that mean? Your guess is as good as mine, but they have promised “no boots on the ground.” A very limited attack would not depose Assad, nor strike fear and respect into the hearts of our enemies. It would not reassure our allies in the region. It would not even destroy the CWs or significantly degrade their effectiveness. By now, surely they have been disseminated and well hidden. Basically, it would only enable us to say “see, we did respond. Assad crossed our president’s ‘red line,’ but we showed him.”

Furthermore, many people question whether Assad was even responsible for the CW attack in the first place. Finally, it is known that Assad’s opponents include some elements of Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood and other militant Islamic groups, which have been committing atrocities of their own for many years. These groups are bitter enemies of ours. So, why help them. Let them kill each other. Why risk American money and materiel when it not our fight? Wrong time, wrong place, wrong reasons.

According to the latest polls, approximately 60% of Americans agree with the latter position, saying it is not in our national interest to be involved in Syria. There are many reasons for this poll result. To wit:

1. After over a decade of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, many Americans are war weary.
2. It is not our job or responsibility to be the world’s policeman, especially when it is not appreciated.
3. We should only become involved in foreign conflicts when our security is threatened directly.
4. Our money, men and assets could be used better elsewhere.
5. Why aide terrorists?
6. Israel, our most reliable and staunchest ally in the region, is fully capable of protecting itself in this situation. Their enemies may hate them, but at least they fear and respect them militarily.
7. But, the most compelling reason is a pervasive lack of confidence in Mr. Obama to execute it successfully. Many Americans feel strongly that somehow, someway, he would “screw it up.”

Unfair, you say? Well consider that President Obama and the State Department have mishandled this situation all along.

1. They did nothing while Assad murdered over 100,000 of his own people, most of which were women, children and other non-combatants.
2. Mr. Obama labeled the use of CWs a personal “red line,” which would trigger a response from the US. He practically made it personal. When Assad subsequently used CWs, we think, in some people’s minds this forced us to respond, even if such a response would be symbolic.
3. Always the leader from behind, Mr. Obama, rather then acting decisively on his own, sought Congressional approval before acting. In the process, he effectively gave advanced warning to Assad. How dumb was that? When he realized he would likely not get it, he delayed further.
4. Vladimir Putin offered a cockamamie diplomatic solution. That is, Russia would confiscate the CWs from Syria and keep them secure, subject to UN inspection. In return, O must promise never to attack Syria. How ridiculous is that? Aside from the fact that Putin cannot be trusted and the UN is incompetent and useless in these types of matters, the logistics of transporting the CWs to Russian control while maintaining strict security and keeping them safe and secure at some location while a rebellion is in progress are enormous. This proposal makes no sense, yet O is entertaining it, grasping at it as if it were a lifeline to a drowning man.
5. Putin has outmaneuvered O at every turn. He is playing chess while O is playing checkers.

CONCLUSION AND PREDICTION

The US has lost all credibility and influence in the region. We are now faced with a “Hobson’s Choice.” We can either back down from O’s ill advised “red line” and do nothing, or we can respond in a very limited way, which would accomplish nothing and, perhaps, be worse. Either course will embolden our enemies and increase the level of fear and uncertainty in our allies. My prediction is O will delay further, perhaps, do nothing ever and then blame others (Republicans, Congress, Putin) for the consequences.