Cheney on Benghazi: “I cannot understand why they weren’t ready to go”

posted at 9:21 am on May 8, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

This should provide a kick-start to the hearings today in Washington, as the House Oversight Committee takes testimony from three whistleblowers about the terrorist attack on our consulate in Benghazi and its aftermath.  The Daily Mail‘s David Martosko caught up with Dick Cheney at a book party for Donald Rumsfeld, and the former VP (and also Secretary of Defense in the George H. W. Bush administration) didn’t hesitate to question the preparation of his successors.  Noting that the attack took place on the anniversary of 9/11 in an area well-known to be in control of al-Qaeda affiliates and allies, Cheney wondered how the White House could have been so unprepared:

‘They should have been ready before anything ever happened,’ Cheney told MailOnline exclusively during a party in Georgetown celebrating the launch of a new book by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

‘I mean, it’s North Africa – Libya, where they’ve already had major problems,’ Cheney said. ‘You know that al-Qaeda is operating there, and you have some of the other al-Qaeda-affiliated groups there like Ansar al-Sharia and others.’ …

‘When we were there, on our watch, we were always ready on 9/11, on the anniversary,’ he recalled. ‘We always anticipated they were coming for us, especially in that part of the world.’

‘I cannot understand why they weren’t ready to go,’ the former two-term vice president said of the Obama administration.

‘You’ve got units in the Defense Department that are superb. They practice for this contingency. And they didn’t have anybody in the area[.]‘

I’d expect this to cause some outrage as the hearings open.  While most of the pundit class has focused on this as a question of response, Cheney’s actually closer to the mark about it being a question of preparation.  We couldn’t respond properly because we weren’t prepared — and given the nature of the location and the control that radical Islamist terror networks had in the absence of any kind of central-government control, we most certainly should have been prepared.  That’s doubly true considering the date.

Instead, as The Hill reports, the outrage seems mainly to be in service to the defense of Hillary Clinton:

Democrats say the Oversight committee’s investigation — and the focus on Clinton — are politically motivated. A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday found that Clinton would garner 65 percent of her party’s support if the 2016 presidential primary were held now, far ahead of Vice President Biden’s 13 percent.

“The meta message that they’re trying to get out there is that this is a failure in judgment that goes to character,” Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly, a senior Democrat on the Oversight and Foreign Affairs panels, told The Hill. “It didn’t work with Obama, so [they’re hoping that] maybe it’ll stick to Clinton.

“They’re trying to bring her numbers down. That’s what this is all about.”

Connolly doesn’t like the attorneys chosen by the whistleblowers, either:

Connolly also raised concerns with the whistle-blowers’ attorneys, Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova, a Republican couple who battled then-President Bill Clinton’s Justice Department in the 1990s. Democrats on Issa’s committee have complained that the two attorneys have blocked Democrats’ access to the witnesses ahead of Wednesday’s hearing.

“They both worked with and for, in some capacity, Mitt Romney. There’s no law against that, but don’t tell me that I’m supposed to accept with a straight face that they’re just professional lawyers representing their clients,” Connolly said, naming the 2012 GOP presidential nominee. “They are active Republicans who have partisan agendas, as they always have.”

Perhaps they chose Toensing and DiGenova because they wanted to work around the roadblocks erected by Democrats and the media in getting their stories out to the public.  Perhaps they understand that Democrats have a lot of incentive to discredit them when they tell these stories — and they want counsel with experience in those kinds of political fights.

But mostly, the selection of attorneys is just a side show, a red herring used by Connolly to argue that accountability for the utter lack of preparation that led to the deaths of four Americans in a terrorist attack that the US still hasn’t answered after seven months is somehow an unfair, partisan expectation.  Good luck with that argument this week.

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Your, um…thoughts here noted.

verbaluce on May 8, 2013 at 11:47 AM

Thank you. It’s time to move on though because the Benghazi attack happened so long ago and the dead men are gone and buried.

So who do you think will get kicked off Idol this week?

Bishop on May 8, 2013 at 11:52 AM

Chris Stevens lived heroically…an advocate for so much that righties typically are disdainful of and mock. He died tragically and as a hero…to the end in service to ideals righties reject.

verbaluce on May 8, 2013 at 11:26 AM

Ambassador Stevens was a great man, an American Patriot who served his nation right up to the end refusing to abandon his post or shirk his responsibility. He was a man this administration did not respect, did not protect, abandoned, and betrayed for THEIR OWN political reasons! Stevens deserved better!

This administration put Stevens’ life in the hands of an Al Qaeda-associated militia rather than utilize U.S. assets to protect a U.S. Ambassador. This administration failed to protect Ambassador Stevens during 2 previous terrorist attacks prior to 9/11/12, and DESPITE failing to do so they DENIED Stevens the additional security he BEGGED for after each attack! Despite the Militia quitting – refusing to ‘protect’ Stevens – 2 months prior to 9/11/12, they REJECTED the requests for additional security Stevens BEGGED for. Despite a video from Al Qaeda’s top leader demanding an attack be perpetrated against Stevens on 9/11/12 in retaliation for a Libyan-born Al Qaeda leader being killed months earlier, this administration ignored that Intel & continued to REFUSE to provide additional security. Despite Stevens reporting 10 new terrorist training camps being opened, Al Qaeda flags ‘now’ flying over Libyan Govt buildings, & warning he would die if he did not have additional security if a 3rd attack happened, Obama/Hillary DENIED him that additional security, did not call for him to leave, did not put assest on stand-by incase that 3rd attack occurred….Basically this administration SENTENCED STEVENS TO DIE …ABANDONED HIM TO DIE WITH EVERY ACTION THEY TOOK OR REFUSED TO TAKE!

This administration SACRIFICED Stevens & 3 other Americans for THEIR own personal/political gain!

easyt65 on May 8, 2013 at 11:57 AM

While most of the pundit class has focused on this as a question of response, Cheney’s actually closer to the mark about it being a question of preparation. We couldn’t respond properly because we weren’t prepared — and given the nature of the location and the control that radical Islamist terror networks had in the absence of any kind of central-government control, we most certainly should have been prepared. That’s doubly true considering the date.

I’d say it’s a matter of both. Either we were prepared and didn’t respond, or we were completely unprepared. In fact, lack of preparation is the more charitable possibility, but one that’s a little hard to believe given it was the anniversary of Sep 11th. It’s far more likely that they deliberately ignored the attack and let them die. But Cheney very sensibly doesn’t go out on a limb.

There Goes the Neighborhood on May 8, 2013 at 12:36 PM

Democrats say the Oversight committee’s investigation — and the focus on Clinton — are politically motivated.

well of course it’s political. what else would it be?? sec state is a political position, hillary will certainly run for higher office so attacking her politically is the way to hold her accoutnable for this snafu. civil/criminal remedies are almost certainly not available so the only recourse is ballot box. so it is political and that is proper and right.

chasdal on May 8, 2013 at 1:00 PM

chasdal on May 8, 2013 at 1:00 PM

But, Hillary already said she took responsibility, remember?

Never had to account for any of it, nor atone, make restitution, pay for, nor be in any way inconvenienced…but, remember she said she took responsibility.

That should end the matter, right? /

coldwarrior on May 8, 2013 at 1:21 PM

if that arsehole perot hadnt run for a third party president candidate clinton would never have been president and we would have never heard of hillary.

thanks Ross for nothing!

losarkos on May 8, 2013 at 1:45 PM

This may be the first time asked but what is Bozo Biden’s direct response to the former VP’s statement?

jake49 on May 8, 2013 at 1:59 PM

jake49 on May 8, 2013 at 1:59 PM

Biden was heard this morning to have said, “Lon Cheney said that? Lon Cheney is alive?? Now, that is an effin’ big deal.”

coldwarrior on May 8, 2013 at 2:07 PM

Your, um…thoughts here noted.

verbaluce on May 8, 2013 at 11:47 AM

Thank you. It’s time to move on though because the Benghazi attack happened so long ago and the dead men are gone and buried.

So who do you think will get kicked off Idol this week?

Bishop on May 8, 2013 at 11:52 AM

C’mon. He/she’s a Honey Boo Boo watcher.

kim roy on May 8, 2013 at 2:25 PM

Killary ’16

“You cross her and you die”

trs on May 8, 2013 at 2:55 PM

I’d say they were ready.

The “video caused it” excuse was made ready in advance of the events because why else make an obscure claim that was false and known to be false (instead of using the far more obvious “possibly caused by wannabe 9/11 copycat”, or simply saying “we don’t know”), unless you had planned your explanation in advance for events that were considered likely to occur but at a time unknown.

So then the question is why did they invent an “explanation” in advance? What was it intended to obfuscate?

YiZhangZhe on May 9, 2013 at 4:06 PM

Too many joy rides and vacations.

johnnyU on May 9, 2013 at 8:53 PM

Comment pages: 1 2