Not just on the day he died, mind you. Multiple times before, too. I’m near the point now where I want to abandon the whole “pre-planned attack versus spontaneous protest” line of inquiry just because it’s steering us away from the more important topic of State’s negligence on his security. Besides, we already know, more or less, why Carney and Rice pushed the “spontaneous protest” theory. Ask Saxby Chambliss:
“Talking points distributed by the administration [in the immediate aftermath] are nearly identical to intelligence assessments within hours of the attack, except in one important way: the intelligence judgment that the attackers had ties to al-Qa’ida was excluded from the public points,” [Saxby] Chambliss said in a statement on Friday.
“The administration omitted the known links to al-Qa’ida at almost every opportunity … Whether this was an intentional effort by the administration to downplay the role of terrorist groups, especially al-Qa’ida, is one of the many issues the Senate Intelligence Committee must examine,” Chambliss said.
The guy who got Bin Laden and knocked out Qaddafi didn’t need a storyline in the middle of a campaign about AQ affiliates killing the American ambassador in the heart of the “new Libya.” That’s straightforward, and that’s almost certainly why the “spontaneous protest” theory got traction initially. (“Al Qaeda is on the run” used to be part of Obama’s standard stump speech, in fact. That line has been quietly dropped lately.) What’s not straightforward is why State refused to boost Stevens’s security despite countless warnings about the danger, some from the man himself. It’s inexplicable. It’s not a budget issue, either: Charlene Lamb testified to that before the House. She also testified that State had “the correct number of assets in Benghazi,” which literally no one but her seems to believe is true. So, once again: Why didn’t Stevens have more security? What were they waiting for before making a decision to either send him a more professional force or end the American presence in Benghazi? Was that politicized too, i.e. State didn’t want abandon the consulate over security fears because that would have made for some bad headlines about conditions inside the “new Libya”?
On Sept. 11 — the day Stevens and three other Americans were killed — the ambassador signed a three-page cable, labeled “sensitive,” in which he noted “growing problems with security” in Benghazi and “growing frustration” on the part of local residents with Libyan police and security forces. These forces the ambassador characterized as “too weak to keep the country secure.”…
Roughly a month earlier, Stevens had signed a two-page cable, also labeled “sensitive,” that he entitled “The Guns of August: Security in Eastern Libya.” Writing on Aug. 8, the ambassador noted that in just a few months’ time, “Benghazi has moved from trepidation to euphoria and back as a series of violent incidents has dominated the political landscape.” He added, “The individual incidents have been organized,” a function of “the security vacuum that a diverse group of independent actors are exploiting for their own purposes.”
“Islamist extremists are able to attack the Red Cross with relative impunity,” Stevens cabled. “What we have seen are not random crimes of opportunity, but rather targeted and discriminate attacks.” His final comment on the two-page document was: “Attackers are unlikely to be deterred until authorities are at least as capable.”…
“Islamic extremism appears to be on the rise in eastern Libya,” the ambassador wrote [on June 25], adding that “the Al-Qaeda flag has been spotted several times flying over government buildings and training facilities …”
Libyan guards at the consulate also thought security was too thin to meet the challenge from local mujahedeen, but were reportedly told by the Americans they spoke to that everything was cool and that no one would dare approach the consulate — even though, as noted above, even the Red Cross wasn’t spared from attack. (That may have been part of a jihadi strategy to push all western outfits out of the city.) I’d sure like to know which Americans said that; based on his increasingly dire reports to the State Department, it doesn’t sound like Stevens was one of them.
I’ll leave you with this. Funny how Susan Rice is capable of detecting a terrorist attack right away in some cases. Is she sure that Beirut bombing this morning wasn’t a reaction to the Mohammed movie?
— Susan Rice (@AmbassadorRice) October 19, 2012