Benghazi Consulate's 3 AM Phone Call
It was one of the most memorable images from the 2008 presidential campaign. It was not a McCain ad or an Obama ad. It was, instead, a Hillary Clinton ad.
The ad featured a red telephone ringing urgently at 3 am in the White House. The voiceover for this political ad assured us that Hillary Clinton would be able to answer that telephone, that she was someone "tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world."
The Red Telephone ad is almost unbearably painful to listen to today.
On September 11, 2012, that red telephone did ring. The world proved to be a very dangerous place for U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three of his American compatriots in Benghazi, Libya. The phone rang, and the response in the White House, in the State Department, was: "The number you have reached is not a working number..."
Is this too harsh? What else can be said of the two weeks of lies and obfuscations we have received since that night of fire and death? American sovereign territory was attacked that night. Our embassies and consulates abroad are as much U.S. territory as are our ships, our bases, or even the District of Columbia .
Note how David Axelrod danced around Chris Wallace's question on Fox News Sunday. "Did the president assemble a national security briefing immediately following the death of Amb. Stevens and his fellow Americans?" Axelrod assured us the president was in full communication with all the relevant national security officials.
That's not what was asked. Did the president hold an "all hands on deck" meeting to discuss the crisis? It was, after all, the first time in more than thirty years that a U.S. ambassador had been murdered. Axelrod's weasely answer could have included the president in a touch-and-go round robin phone call from Air Force One as he jetted off to the real business of his presidency: yukking it up at a Las Vegas fundraiser.
Hillary Clinton has said she accepts full responsibility for what happened in Benghazi and for the "lapses" in security that allowed our "Safe House" there to become so lethal to Amb. Stevens and his friends. That's another Axelrod weasel word -- lapse. Lapse is when you forget to tie your shoe and trip going onstage. Or when you leave your fly unzipped. This was no lapse. This was a debacle.
Even now, the New York Times relegates the Libya story to page A6. You have to dig through the former Newspaper of Record to find the story.
What we do learn from the Times reportage is that the Obama administration wants to give the Libyans $250 million. For what? For protecting our embassy and consulate? For refusing to hand over Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi? He was the convicted Lockerbie bomber, who killed more than 200 Americans homebound for Christmas in 1988.
President Obama thanked the Libyans for taking Amb. Stevens, mortally wounded, to the hospital. That's one way to view it. To many, it appeared that the Libyans were celebrating the death of the ambassador with a grisly totentanz through the streets of Benghazi.
Whatever the Libyans were doing with Chris Stevens's body, it was powerful evidence that they and not American Marines or other U.S. security personnel had him in their grasp.
This is a foreign policy disaster worse, if that is possible, than the seizure of our embassy in Tehran in 1979. At least there, no Americans died.
But this is the predictable result of President Obama's telegraphing fear through apologies and appeasement to those in the Mideast who celebrate the death of Americans by chanting in the streets, "Death to America!"
What happened to Chris Stevens and his fellow Americans that terrible night in Benghazi is what these people want to happen to all of us. Why we should give any of them another penny is a question that demands an answer. Maybe we can call that red telephone in the White House. At 3 am.
Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison are fellows at the Family Research Council. Mr. Blackwell served as an U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 1991 to 1993.