Quotes of the day

Three days after he was killed, CNN found a journal belonging to late U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens. The journal was found on the floor of the largely unsecured consulate compound where he was fatally wounded…

A source familiar with Stevens’ thinking told CNN earlier this week that, in the months leading up to his death, the late ambassador worried about what he called the security threats in Benghazi and a rise in Islamic extremism.


But in reality, the fiasco appears to be largely — if not entirely — a State Department botch. It was the State Department that failed to provide its ambassador adequate security; it was the State Department that fled Benghazi in the aftermath of the attack, apparently failing to clear or secure the scene, leaving Stevens’ diary behind; and it was State that had taken the lead on the ground after the Libya intervention.

“When it comes to specific critiques about the attack, if either [the White House or State] should be getting blamed, it seems to me the primary one to be getting blamed should be State itself more than the [White House],” says one former State Department official with extensive experience in the region. “I mean if you take away the ‘buck stops here’ parsing of this stuff, if Stevens was issuing warning or expressing concerns he was doing so primarily through his own chain of command. The security on the ground belongs to State.”

And though the Department of State savaged CNN for reporting on the diary, BuzzFeed has learned that the department wasn’t even aware that Stevens’ personal diary existed before the cable channel told them about it.


Senate Republicans are furious the Obama administration rebuffed their attempts to learn details of the Benghazi attack, only to give the coveted information to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal…

“It was like pulling teeth to get information yesterday,” [Lindsey] Graham said of the meeting with Clinton and other administration officials. “A lot of senators were frustrated. And you pick up major newspapers in the country and you find details not shared with you.”

“We were told nothing. We were told absolutely nothing,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), ranking Republican on the Armed Services Panel…

“If that isn’t an incredible disrespect to the members of the United States Senate, I don’t know what is,” he said. “It’s an example of the disdain with which this body is held by the administration, including, I’m sorry to say, the secretary of state.”


The House GOP ought to use its power of subpoena to bring before it top administration officials to answer difficult questions about their conduct. Here’s where they should start:

Libya. The State Department’s disgraceful handling of the security situation at the Benghazi consulate led directly to the death of our ambassador, along with three other Americans. The State Department has stonewalled Freedom of Information Act requests regarding its security procedures, and continues to avoid answering basic questions as to whether unarmed British contractors were in fact providing “security.” President Obama and company continue to maintain the fiction that the attacks in Libya were “spontaneous” and therefore unforeseeable. In the end, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is charged with embassy and ambassador security. If it is found that the State Department had advance warning, that Ambassador Stevens feared that he was on the al Qaeda hit list, and that the State Department did nothing to give him armed protection, she should resign.


National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor previews the president’s speech to the UN General Assembly next week…

“As he has in recent days, the President will make it clear that we reject the views in this video, while also underscoring that violence is never acceptable – a message that has been echoed by the leaders he has personally reached out to in places like Libya, Egypt and Yemen. He will also send a clear message that the United States will never retreat from the world; will bring justice to those who harm Americans; and will stand strongly for our democratic values abroad.”


On the latter point, after a week and a half of peddling an utterly false narrative of what happened in Libya, the United States government is apparently beginning to discern that there are limits to what even Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Susan Rice can say with a straight face. The official line — that the slaughter of American officials was some sort of improvised movie review that got a little out of hand — is now in the process of modification to something bearing a less patently absurd relationship to what actually happened. That should not make any more forgivable the grotesque damage that the administration has done to the bedrock principle of civilized society: freedom of speech

Last year Hillary Clinton went to see the Broadway musical Book of Mormon. “We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others”? The Book of Mormon’s big showstopper is “Hasa Diga Eebowai” which apparently translates as “F*** you, God.” The U.S. secretary of state stood and cheered.

Why does Secretary Clinton regard “F*** you, God” as a fun toe-tapper for all the family but “F*** you, Allah” as “disgusting and reprehensible”? The obvious answer is that, if you sing the latter, you’ll find a far more motivated crowd waiting for you at the stage door. So the “leader of the free world” and “the most powerful man in the world” (to revive two cobwebbed phrases nobody seems to apply to the president of the United States anymore) is telling the planet that the way to ensure your beliefs command his “respect” is to be willing to burn and bomb and kill. You Mormons need to get with the program.


According to a senior Western official who recently met with opposition leaders in liberated areas of Syria, the diplomatic arguments between the U.S. and France on one hand, and Russia, a longtime Assad ally, on the other, increasingly focus on this point, especially as the Assad regime grows weaker. Each side draws different conclusions from the massive protests and attacks in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and other countries in recent weeks against U.S. and Western interests that took the lives of a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans. “The Russians argue that we must stick with Assad to prevent the rise of the Islamists. We say any continuation of Bashar’s policies [the bloody suppression and mass killings] will only cause a more Islamic outcome.”

There may be no getting around such an outcome in any case. “In the last four decades, Islamists brilliantly positioned themselves as the alternative to the failed secular ‘authoritarian bargain,’ ” Fawaz Gerges, director of the Mideast Center at the London School of Economics, writes in a new essay, “The Islamist Moment.” “They have already won majorities of parliamentary seats in a number of countries, including Tunisia, Egypt, and Morocco, and will likely make further gains in Libya, Jordan, and maybe even in Syria after the dust settles on the raging battlefield there.”


At home, [Obama’s] personal story as the son of a mother from Kansas and a father from Kenya symbolized hopes of overcoming America’s racial divides. Might his personal story as an American-Christian descended from East African Muslims achieve a similar resonance abroad?

Now we have the answer, delivered by rocket launchers. No.

Again, this is not to blame Obama. He didn’t make the anti-Americanism, and he faces few easy answers in responding to that anti-Americanism. But it does suggest that greater humility might have been in order back in 2008-2009. And it suggests that the problems faced in the Muslim world today go way deeper than suggested by the glib answer, it’s all about Israel — or all about Bush. The anger goes back way further and lies way deeper. And it probably won’t be allayed by anything much that the United States or Israel or the larger Western world can do. It will be allayed by changes inside the Muslim world — changes that remove the incentives for local power-seekers to agitate mobs with stories about offenses against Islam; changes that reduce the receptiveness of ordinary people to the demagoguery of local power-seekers. Economic development, the advance of education, the rise of forms of Islam that are less political and more spiritual — these are the forces that will bring change. They’ll be slow. And they are bigger than any one man, no matter how unusual his life story; how eloquent his tongue; or how grand his self-image.


“Absolutely no one intentionally or unintentionally misled anybody involved in this,” said Gibbs.

Asked about why Ambassador Susan Rice told the nation that the attack was spontaneous, when it now appears to have been a planned terrorist attack, Gibbs will only say that Rice answered the question based on the intelligence available to her.

“No one wants to get to the bottom of this more than the president and secretary of state,” Gibbs said.


The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Sunday there’s no proof indicating this month’s consulate attack in Libya – which killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans – was related to protests over an anti-Islam video.

“I have seen no information that shows that there was a protest going on as you have seen around any other embassy at the time. It was clearly designed to be an attack,” Rep. Mike Rogers said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”…

Rogers said Sunday the administration’s statements have been “confusing.” He criticized President Barack Obama for attending a campaign event in Colorado the night after the attacks.