Three pitiful minutes from today’s House Oversight hearing, revolving around whether a cable that “requested” more security in Libya was enough of a clue to State that … more security was being requested. Eric Nordstrom, who was on the ground, didn’t think the number was “correct”; neither did Andy Wood, who told CBS the other day that if the embassy in Tripoli had had a bigger security detail, some members surely would have joined Chris Stevens on his trip to Benghazi. But don’t miss the forest for the trees: State’s negligence here doesn’t depend on the precise number of security personnel needed under normal protocols, it derives from the glaring fact that Libya’s security situation was the opposite of “normal” and had been for the better part of a year. In Wood’s memorable phrase, Al Qaeda is more established there than we are. This was no time for a “light footprint” or even an average one. If the Department couldn’t provide Stevens with security equal to the task of handling an all but inevitable terror attack, they should have pulled him from the country. But then, we’re dealing here with people who can’t bring themselves to describe the attackers as “terrorists” even now. Like I said, pitiful.
After you watch Charlene Lamb’s testimony, watch Shep Smith try to control his anger over State’s blindness to the plain truth about Libya. Exit question: Are House Democrats right that reduced congressional funding for embassy security contributed to Stevens’s fate? Exit answer: No. But even if they were, more Democrats voted for that reduction than Republicans did.