The Hill - Obama Administration Misled the Public: We Need to Know What Happened in Libya

Op-Ed

By:  James DeMint
Date: Sept. 27, 2012
Location: Unknown

By Senator Jim DeMint

It's been over two weeks since our Libyan consulate was overrun by militant Islamists and the Obama Administration still hasn't provided a clear account of what happened that day.

The facts we do know are grave. Four Americans were killed in Benghazi. That same day, the stars and stripes were ripped down, torched, and replaced with the black flag of militant Islam at the U.S. embassy in Egypt. All on the chilling anniversary of September 11 -- when radical jihadists launched the biggest-ever attack on U.S.
soil in history.

Instead of confronting the reality of the situation, the Obama Administration's first reaction was, in the words of former U.S. Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick, to blame America first. Officials pointed to an Internet video as cause for the brutality. They
hesitated to state what the real motivation was behind these incidents: a radical Muslim ideology that detests the God-given rights to freedom Americans enjoy.

Before he was killed, Ambassador Chris Stevens worried about security in Benghazi, the rise of Islamic extremism in the region, and being on an Al Qaeda hit list, according to media reports. He seemed to know what the Obama Administration won't admit. He and his colleagues were not safe.

The Obama Administration was warned something terrible might happen -- not that any official warnings should have been necessary to protect American diplomats stationed in the Middle East on a date as gravely important as September 11th.

Libyan President Mohamed Yousef El-Magarif has said his government was notified an attack was coming and relayed that information to U.S. diplomatic officials at least two days before the assault began. His statements are at complete odds with those by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice who has publicly stated the Obama Administration had no such knowledge.

Prominent pro-government militia members, who aided the Libyan government in protecting the consulate, also sounded the alarms by, according to reports, raising the possibility of closing diplomatic missions until conditions were safer.

For some reason, however, these warnings were not heeded. Decisions were made that left our diplomats without adequate security. Private security forces, for example, were used in Benghazi instead of the U.S. military.

This combination of missteps created a situation where Americans were needlessly left in danger. Congress has a moral obligation to act swiftly to ensure it never happens again.

In order to do that, we must have more information. Too much time has already gone by without clear answers. The Obama Administration has misled the public, creating confusion about the true nature of the threat we face.

If our leaders cannot, or will not, describe our enemies, we do not stand a chance of defeating them. The White House has used stronger language to condemn a YouTube video than it has those responsible for the deaths of our fellow Americans in Libya.

Staying silent is not an option. Polite appeasement will never satisfy those who do not wish to live in a world where the United States exists. If the United States does not assert power, the terrorists will.

The administration's continually changing story about the attacks and reluctance to defend America's freedoms to the world is deeply disturbing. First, the White House, shockingly, dignified the idea that a YouTube video caused the protests and deaths of our American public servants and refused to defend our critical right to free speech.

Every person on Earth could probably find something on the Internet that offends them or insults their beliefs. The U.S. government should never give credence to the idea that violence is a justifiable reaction.

Officials claimed the attacks were "spontaneous" and a result of a protest that had "spun out of control." Ambassador Rice denied it was premeditated, stating that the protest was "hijacked by some individual clusters of extremists...and then it evolved from there."

Then, finally, the National Counterterrosim Center Director Matthew Olsen stated in a Senate hearing the four Americans were killed "in the course of a terror attack" that may have connections to al Qaeda, but that we do not have specific intelligence of "significant advance planning."

Again, this is a different narrative described by Libyan President Megariaf, who said the attack was carried out by foreign militants who had infiltrated Libya and had been planning these events for months. The contradictory and changing stories stemming from the same events are worrisome.

It's far past time to get all the facts. We need a comprehensive detailed report rather than waiting for various officials to dribble them out one interview at a time.

Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and I have introduced legislation to require the Obama
Administration to conduct an official investigation and issue a report on the September 11-13, 2012 attacks on United States missions in Libya, Egypt, and Yemen within 30 days. It also requires the Secretary of State to submit recommended changes to security procedures.

The need for this information is urgent and should not be pushed until after the election. Keeping America safe is not a partisan issue, it's a national one.