Americans Deserve Straight Talk on Terrorism
The primary role of the federal government is to provide for the common defense of the American people both here and abroad. On September 11, 2012, the United States government failed to protect four Americans -- including our Ambassador to Libya -- and consequently, they were killed at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. Given that the world is a very volatile place, it's fair to say that mistakes will happen. As such, I believe we must accurately identify these mistakes so they are never repeated. Here are a few takeaways from the attack.
First, the world remains a very dangerous place. The killing of Osama bin Laden was a true victory for the United States. We owe a great deal of thanks to the men and women in uniform and the intelligence community -- many of them sacrificing everything -- who fought tirelessly not only to get Bin Laden, but also to protect our nation from his allies in the aftermath of 9/11. Still, the fight against terrorism is not over. It was an al Qaeda affiliate that ravaged the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, and the radical jihadists are obviously not done fighting.
According to the Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram, the mob outside our embassy in Cairo boldly chanted: "Obama, Obama there are still a billion Osamas." Radical Islamists who despise America are still strong, and influential.
We are without a doubt isolated from much of this violence in the Ninth District, but that doesn't mean that, as Americans, we don't have an obligation to ensure that our interests and our way of life -- at home and abroad -- are protected. In the aftermath of 9/11, national security has been an issue on the hearts of many Americans, not just those in New York or Washington, D.C. or abroad. If we remain steadfast, it's my hope that we will never again be caught off guard like we were on 9/11.
Secondly, I think it would be prudent for us to move forward with caution when dealing with the Middle East. For months, the Obama Administration has been touting Libya as a model for its "reset policy' in the region. The murder of our ambassador by an al Qaeda affiliated strike force on the 11th anniversary of 9/11 proves that our government has not assessed the situation in Libya appropriately. The "reset" of our Middle East policy under the current administration has paralleled a shift in the Middle East from tyrants of dubious political allegiance to unstable popular governments often run by the Islamists who are still actively fighting against Americans. I believe our core principles must remain consistent and uncompromising, but urge caution in the region until stability returns.
Lastly, as Thomas Jefferson once wrote, "The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest." As more details emerge about what took place on the night of the attack in Benghazi, much attention is now focused on what the president may or may not have said and intended following the attack. Rather than debating the semantics, I'd suggest these questions be asked:
Why were increased security requests denied? Why did the White House Press Secretary, the U.N. Ambassador, and the President continually cite a video as the nexus for the attack for roughly two weeks? Why did the Libyan government attribute the killings to an al-Qaeda affiliate within days and well before the Administration did?
The situation in Libya was obviously evolving, but when President Obama and Ambassador Rice misled the public about the origin and nature of the attack, they opened themselves up to these questions. And they and others have not been completely candid in their answers -- the American people deserve straight talk from their leaders, not the misdirection they've received.
As we wait for the facts to emerge, let us not lose sight of the fact that four Americans were killed. On behalf of the United States of America, our retribution against the perpetrators of these attacks must be swift.