The White House knew—or should have known—an avowed Libyan Jihadist group named Ansar Al-Sharia claimed responsibility for the attack in Benghazi as it was occurring. Emails released yesterday from the Embassy in Tripoli make that point obvious, and Obama’s refusal to publicly state when he saw these frantic alert messages serves only to solidify suspicions of a cover-up.
It also proved that the White House response to the Benghazi assault involved an obvious incongruity. They were willing to cite in the earliest hours that an obscure youtube video sparked a “spontaneous” protest based on preliminary evidence from the internet. By contrast, the Obama administration didn’t think that similar open-source information merited public mention when a prime suspect—Ansar al-Sharia–announced it was involved in overrunning and burning out a U.S. Consulate.
Many in the media chalk up the bungled response to panic, while others recognize the obvious politics at work. Recent revelations have proven both of those claims true, but less discussed is why the administration sought to control and distort the narrative at the expense of their own credibility. By attempting to distort and deflect, the Obama administration merely delayed America’s inevitable reckoning that something rotten was afoot in our Libyan intervention.
Of course this all reeks of electoral calculation. This administration has lied to the American people, and it’s an outrage. But it also brings up a broader question that goes to the heart of U.S. policy in the aftermath of the Arab Spring:
Why was the White House so unwilling to state the obvious on Benghazi?
The answer is all about Obama’s narrative heading into reelection. The Benghazi debacle makes it appear Libya is heading for darker times, it proves that the global Jihad marches on after Bin Laden’s death, and Libya could even become a safehaven for terrorists to plot attacks around the world.
And all this for an administration that views foreign policy as its strongest asset.
In fact, as we headed into the thick of election season, the Obama administration was poised to hold Libya up as the poster-child for humanitarian intervention. Obama had shaken off the legacy of Bill Clinton’s disastrous Somalia mission, and seemingly proven that drones alone can liberate an Arab world just clamoring for democracy, human rights, and rule of law.
Then our U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three other brave Americans serving their country were murdered by the very people they had risked their lives to liberate. Americans now see threats on the horizon for which this administration is ill-prepared.
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