October 12 2012
Oh, dear—it looks like Hillary Clinton may be joining an already large crowd under that bus. This from Foreign Policy magazine's “The Cable:”
Vice President Joseph Biden speaks only for himself and President Barack Obama, and neither man was aware that U.S. officials in Libya had asked the State Department for more security before the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, a top White House official told The Cable.
Biden has come under fire for saying at Thursday night's debate, "We weren't told they wanted more security. We did not know they wanted more security there."
The Cable asked Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications Ben Rhodes whether Biden was speaking for the entire Obama administration, including the State Department, which acknowledged receiving multiple requests for more Libya security in the months before the attacks. Rhodes said that Biden speaks only for himself and the president and neither of them knew about the requests at the time.
The State Department security officials who testified before House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa's panel Wednesday never said they had made their requests to the president, Rhodes pointed out. That would be natural because the State Department is responsible for diplomatic security, not the White House, he said. Rhodes also pointed out that the officials were requesting more security in Tripoli, not Benghazi.
“All of us at post were in sync that we wanted these resources," the top regional security officer in Libya over the summer, Eric Nordstrom, testified. "In those conversations, I was specifically told [by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Charlene Lamb] ‘You cannot request an SST [Site Security Team] extension.' I determined I was told that because there would be too much political cost. We went ahead and requested it anyway."
Nordstrom was so critical of the State Department's reluctance to respond to his calls for more security that he said, "For me, the Taliban is on the inside of the building."
"We felt great frustration that those requests were ignored or just never met," testified Lt. Col. Andrew Wood, a Utah National Guardsman who was leading a security team in Libya until August.
This is a truly astonishing report. It seeks to protect a president engaged in a tougher than expected a few weeks ago re-election campaign. Not sure it achieves this end. Is the president of the U.S. so busy with his appearances on entertainment TV that nobody thought to inform him of developments in one of the world’s hotspots, Libya, heretofore regarded as a feather in his cap?
As for the security’s having been requested for Tripoli, isn’t it safe to assume that a detail would have traveled with the ambassador? But one person looks really, really bad—the Secretary of State. Either she knew of these requests and did nothing, which is bad, or she didn’t know, which isn’t very good for her reputation either. The Niobe image of the secretary welcoming the bodies of those who died in Libya takes on new texture in light of the revelations that additional security had been requested for the people in those boxes.
I couldn’t help but notice that Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Charlene Lamb, who so studiously avoided using the word “terrorism” in her testimony, also got thrown under the bus. Looks like CYO time.