Guests leave their thoughts on Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens after his memorial.
by Sydney Williams
“And make no mistake, justice will be done,” so said President Obama on September 12, 2012.
He spoke in the aftermath of the murder of Ambassador Chris Steven’s and three others by terrorists the night before. Twelve months later the only person brought to justice, has been Nakoula Basseley Nakoula who produced the video, The Innocence of Muslims. The Administration blamed the attack on the Consulate in Benghazi on the fourteen-minute trailer of that film. Mr. Nakoula was arrested on the 27th of September and sentenced to a year in jail on November 7th. In the meantime, the Islamic extremists who killed our men roam free.
The long delay in indicting Ahmed Abu Khattala, the Benghazi leader of the jihadist group, Ansar al-Sharia was incomprehensible. According to a timeline provided by CNN, the State Department on the evening of the attack sent an e-mail stating that the terrorist group Ansar al-Sharia had taken responsibility. The e-mail went to the White House, the Pentagon and the FBI. The same terrorist group was mentioned the day after the attack in London’s Globe and Mail as a “popular suspect.” Nevertheless, two days later, on the 14th, as the bodies of the four victims arrived at Andrews Air Force Base, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton blamed the attack on “that hateful video,” with no mention of Ansar al-Sharia. On Sunday, September 16, Susan Rice, then U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, was sent to the TV talk shows to lay blame on the video, which she did. (In a bizarre and frankly inexplicable move, the Administration – on the one-year anniversary of Benghazi – has Ms. Rice [now National Security Advisor] briefing the House on Syria. Sending a known fabulist on a mission to elicit support from a recalcitrant Congress says a lot about the world of make-believe the Administration inhabits.)
But to return to Ansar al-Sharia and Mr. Abu Khattala, officials from the United States, including the FBI, claimed an inability to find and speak with Mr. Abu Khattala, claiming that his “whereabouts were unknown.” Yet on October 18th both the New York Times and Reuters interviewed him. David Kirkpatrick of the Times described the meeting on October 18th: “Mr. Abu Khattala spent two leisurely hours on Thursday evening at a crowded luxury hotel, sipping a strawberry frappe…” Subsequently, CNN interviewed him and so did the Associated Press. The murder charges against Mr. Abu Khattala and others were finally filed in abstentia on August 5th, almost eleven months after the carnage. The Times noted the next day, “It is not clear that either government (Libya or the U.S.) knows the whereabouts of all the suspects.”
The reasons to go to war against Libya in 2011 were odd and vague. In December 2003, in the wake of the Iraqi invasion, Muammar Gaddafi surrendered his nuclear and chemical weapons. Nonetheless, there was concern that Gaddafi, still a merciless dictator, might nationalize the Country’s large oil reserves; additionally, the Country has 143 tons of gold. The government insisted that all foreign exchange go through their own central bank, a bank that was not part of the Bank for International Settlement. That concerned their trading partners, especially the oil companies. Of course there is no question that Gaddafi was a bad guy who had harbored terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas, but the reasons to intervene still seem strange.
For example, according to the UN’s Human Development Index, Libya had the highest level of well-being, the lowest infant mortality and highest life expectancy of any country in Africa. At any rate, in late 2010, a civil war broke out against the forces of Mr. Gaddafi. On February 23rd 2011, French President Sarkozy pushed the European Union to pass sanctions against Libya. Five days later British Prime Minister proposed a no-fly zone. Three weeks later the U.N. Security Council approved a no-fly zone, which the rebels had asked for because of Gaddafi’s alleged bombing of civilian populations. Less than twenty-four hours later, Libya announced it would halt all military operations in response to the U.N. Security Council resolution. Regardless, by the end of March French fighters had entered Libya’s airspace. Seven months later, on October 23rd the “liberation” of Libya was announced. Thirty thousand Libyans had died, including Gaddafi. No one can argue that Mr. Gaddafi was a force for good, but is the Country anymore stable today than it was before? Certainly, the events in Benghazi would suggest they are not.
A year later unanswered questions remain, which the Administartion has denounced as perpetrating “phony scandals.” Why had security in Benghazi been denied or ignored in the weeks leading up to the date of the attack, especially knowing it was the 11th anniversary of 9/11? Why did the combatants on the roof of the annex not receive military support? Why would the Secretary of State blame the attack on a video when her own department had sent an e-mail alleging the participation of Ansar al-Sharia? Why did the White House send UN Ambassador Susan Rice to the TV talk shows to tell a deliberate lie? Why did it take two weeks for the Administration to admit the attack had been planned in advance? Why did they wait three weeks before sending the FBI to sift through the evidence at the consulate? With Drones used regularly to kill jihadists in Pakistan and Yemen, why were they not used in Libya? In a Presidential race, were lies told for political gain, or were they truly a consequence of the “fog of war?”
September 11th is a date that will live on. We can never forget the deadly attack on American soil by nineteen al Qaeda members. We must always remember the passengers in those four hi-jacked planes and their terrifying last moments as they headed for instant death. We cannot forget those who worked in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Neither can we forget the heroes who rushed to the crash sites, nor the many who died in the attempt to save lives. The date has added meaning, since the attack in Benghazi. Islamic jihadists have not forgotten those moments of victory over the “infidel” West. Neither should we.
Last January 23rd, before a Senate hearing committee and in response to questioning by Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), the Secretary of State had a melt-down, blurting out: “With all due respect. We have four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided to kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?” It makes a lot of difference. The very asking of the question suggests Ms. Clinton was either in denial or she failed to understand the consequences of the murder and its’ after effects. Ms. Clinton, it makes all the difference in the world. Of course the dead are dead, but the “whys” matter. Ask the families of former U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, the Information Officer Sean Smith and the two Naval Seals, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty. Errors must be admitted. Blame should be accepted and fabrications should never be allowed.
We are a democratic republic that relies on officials, both elected and appointed, who are accountable to the people. Public office is an honor and requires people of character who respect the people and our institutions – traits that are sadly missing in much of Washington today.
“The thought of the day” by Sydney Williams
The views expressed on austriancenter.com are not necessarily those of the Austrian Economics Center.
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