October 2, 2012
By Peter Brookes
After two-plus weeks of dissembling and obfuscating on the Libya attack, Team Obama finally found a “scapegoat” for its botched initial press rollout of the tragic events at the Benghazi consulate on 9/11/12 — the U.S. Intelligence Community.
Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James R. Clapper Jr. affirmed Friday in a press release — always the best time for delivering bad news — that the “spooks” were responsible for how the administration initially described the attack.
Taking one for the team, Clapper reported that the cloak and dagger crowd told the Obama administration that “the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo.”
The DNI press release continues: “As we learned more about the attack, we revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists.”
And then — tahdah! — buried in the middle of the DNI one-pager: “However, we do assess that some of those involved were linked to groups affiliated with, or sympathetic to al-Qaida. We continue to make progress, but there remain many unanswered questions.”
This shouldn’t surprise us.
The last thing the White House wanted to tell us in the heat of a tight presidential campaign was that al-Qaida terrorists had just attacked sovereign American territory on the 11th anniversary of 9/11.
That “headline” totally undermines the notion that Team Obama has kept us safe and sound from terrorism — with, of course, the exception of the 2009 Fort Hood attack, which they’ve classified as “workplace violence.”
Instead, they seemingly chose to ignore the significance of the date of the attack; the lawlessness of eastern Libya; the sophistication of the assault on the Benghazi consulate and secure annex — and blamed it on a movie trailer.
Indeed, if not for the questioning of the National Counterterrorism Center’s Director at a Sept. 19 Senate hearing, where he identified Benghazi as a terror attack, the White House might still be spinning the “spontaneous protest” yarn.
Now instead of Team Obama playing it like it did — and, worse, making the hardworking people of the intelligence community take the hit — they should’ve been straight from the get-go.
Naturally, the details were difficult to discern in the early hours and days of the tragedy, and as such Team Obama — and its media surrogates — could’ve told us that there was a range of possibilities they were examining, including a terror attack.
The American people would’ve understood that. But instead the administration chose to lead us away from the emerging truth of a pre-meditated al-Qaida terror attack that killed four Americans.
That was disingenuous — and wrong.
But the DNI press release doesn’t put to rest this issue of what happened on 9/11/12 in Benghazi, by any means. For instance, it lacks a timeline of who in the administration knew what and when.
The American people deserve answers to these — and other questions — on what happened on that day in Libya. If the administration won’t tell us, Congress must get those answers for us. Soon.
Peter Brookes is a Heritage Foundation senior fellow and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense.
First appeared in Boston Herald.
Senior Fellow, National Security Affairs
Read More >>
Request an interview >>
Please complete the following form to request an interview with a Heritage expert.
Please note that all fields must be completed.
Heritage's daily Morning Bell e-mail keeps you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.
The subscription is free and delivers you the latest conservative policy perspectives on the news each weekday--straight from Heritage experts.
The Morning Bell is your daily wake-up call offering a fresh, conservative analysis of the news.
More than 450,000 Americans rely on Heritage's Morning Bell to stay up to date on the policy battles that affect them.
Rush Limbaugh says "The Heritage Foundation's Morning Bell is just terrific!"
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) says it's "a great way to start the day for any conservative who wants to get America back on track."
Sign up to start your free subscription today!
The Heritage Foundation is the nation’s most broadly supported public policy research institute, with hundreds of thousands of individual, foundation and corporate donors. Heritage, founded in February 1973, has a staff of 275 and an annual expense budget of $82.4 million.
Our mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense. Read More
© 2014, The Heritage Foundation Conservative policy research since 1973