I continue to be worried and somewhat haunted by what happened in Benghazi several weeks ago.
I would like to be able to blow off what happened in Benghazi, Libya as an isolated incident of violence. I would like to believe that it was just one of those things that happen. But ever since the story broke, I have had this nagging feeling that there's more to this. The United States ambassador was killed. We really have not gotten a good explanation of how the ambassador ended up at a local hospital, dead from smoke inhalation. Today, United States intelligence officials admitted that initial intelligence reports were wrong. Really? Why?
I'm still curious as to exactly what the security procedures at our embassy were. The last thing that I read, several weeks ago, said something to the effect that local authorities were supposed to provide security externally and Marines or other US military personnel were supposed to provide security for the interior contents of the embassy. That just sounded strange to me. The Libyan government was responsible for security of our embassy?
The political ramifications of this could be huge. Yet, I would like to focus not on the politics, but instead let us concentrate on the policy just for a second. If the United States is going to set up an embassy in a country like Libya, where the government has just been recently overturned, what are the procedures? What type of security is provided to the United States ambassador? How is our security adjusted to the situation? Who makes the decision to pull an ambassador out of an embattled country?
It was good to see that there were protests in Benghazi supporting the American government. There has been enough pressure on anti-government militias that a couple of them have actually packed up and left.
It seems that Mitt Romney may have learned his lesson. His response to the national intelligence director's statements was by far more measured (see video above). I do not think he will be as measured and as restrained during the upcoming debates. In spite of the fact that President Obama has enjoyed the recent surge in the polls, all of this can evaporate overnight. The Obama administration needs to be extremely careful. They need to proceed thoughtfully. No more missteps. No inartful statements. No "mistruths." Clear and thoughtful statements about what happened are necessary Also necessary is information about how we can move forward and protect American personnel while also advancing American interests around the world. The American people should not, will not tolerate incompetence.