I’m looking forward to having it explained to me on the news tomorrow why this is all a misunderstanding and not a very big deal at all.
Some of the missing papers from the consulate are said to list names of Libyans who are working with Americans, putting them potentially at risk from extremist groups, while some of the other documents are said to relate to oil contracts.
According to senior diplomatic sources, the US State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and “lockdown”, under which movement is severely restricted…
According to security sources the consulate had been given a “health check” in preparation for any violence connected to the 9/11 anniversary. In the event, the perimeter was breached within 15 minutes of an angry crowd starting to attack it at around 10pm on Tuesday night. There was, according to witnesses, little defence put up by the 30 or more local guards meant to protect the staff. Ali Fetori, a 59-year-old accountant who lives near by, said: “The security people just all ran away and the people in charge were the young men with guns and bombs.”
I’m awfully curious to hear how thorough that “health check” was given how quickly consulate security crumbled. Two thoughts here. One: While the bit about credible information is new and important, you don’t need that detail to know that Obama and his team dropped the ball on protecting the consulate. We already know there were no Marines stationed there; even the locals couldn’t believe how lightly guarded the building was. There’s no earthly reason for security to be that thin on 9/11, especially when jihadis had targeted the consulate and other western diplomats in Benghazi before. Two: I wonder if the “credible information” described in the piece has something to do with the Zawahiri video eulogizing Abu Yahya al-Libi, a top AQ chieftain from Libya. The video appeared on jihadi websites on Tuesday to coincide with 9/11, but intel experts who watch those sites sometimes see new material show up on their servers in advance. If they knew that a new Zawahiri video was coming on 9/11, that alone might have been reason to think Al Qaeda was out for revenge and eager to make a splash against U.S. interests somewhere on the anniversary. Is that the sort of intel we’re dealing with here or do they mean something more concrete and specific about a planned attack?
While we’re on the subject of Obama’s foreign-policy failures, here’s a blast from the past for longtime HA readers:
An Iraqi militia that carried out some of the most prominent attacks on foreigners during the Iraq war on Thursday threatened U.S. interests in the country over a film that has triggered protests in Libya, Egypt and Yemen.
“The offence caused to the messenger (Prophet Mohammad) will put all American interests in danger and we will not forgive them for that,” said Qais al-Khazali, leader of the Asaib al-Haq militia.
That’s the same Qais Khazali who led Iran’s “Special Groups” in Iraq, and who allegedly masterminded the famous 2007 operation in Karbala in which five U.S. servicemen were captured and executed. He was captured by American troops two months later. So why’s he back on the streets now and threatening to kill people over the Mohammed movie, you ask? Because, silly: We let him go as part of a prisoner exchange in 2009, over the strenuous objections of some military officers. Remember that, because Khazali’s expertly trained and sufficiently ruthless that he’s capable of following through on his threats in spectacular fashion. You might be seeing his name in the news again soon.
Exit question: Any word from the White House on whether Obama regrets not attending a daily intel briefing since September 5? I know he supposedly reads his briefing instead, but he’s been super busy lately doing interviews with morning-show DJs and scheduling appearances on Letterman, so maybe he hasn’t had time.
Update: It’s a big ol’ lie, says the White House.
The Obama administration is flatly denying a blaring British newspaper report that the U.S. diplomats in Libya were killed as a result of a “continuing security breach,” and that “credible information” about possible attacks had been ignored.
A U.S. official told POLITICO: “There’s no intelligence indicating that the attack in Benghazi was premeditated.”…
Shawn Turner, spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, emailed: “This is absolutely wrong. We are not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent.”
The Independent didn’t claim that the intelligence said there’d be an attack on the Benghazi consulate specifically. It claimed that American missions generally, including the one in Benghazi, could be targeted. The point is, security should have been ramped up at U.S. missions worldwide. Why didn’t that happen in Benghazi?