The Blame Game

The famous words of Harry Truman, "the buck stops here" do not apply to America's current president. Obama does not take responsibility or hold himself accountable for this administration's national security failures, specifically what happened in Benghazi, Libya. American Thinker interviewed intelligence experts asking them how it feels to be the latest target of this administration's blame game.

The first target of blame was the infamous video, characterized by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as "an awful Internet video that the American government had nothing to do with." On September 13th Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, stated that, "The protests we're seeing around the region are in reaction to this movie." It was not until September 19th, over a week after the attack, that anyone from the administration acknowledged that the murders in Libya were the result of a terrorist strike. Yet, in President Obama's September 25th UN speech, he cited six times, "... the video that sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world."

Governor Romney also came under fire for jumping the gun and criticizing the U.S. Cairo embassy's statement condemning a movie by "misguided individuals who offend believers of all religions." Romney said, "It's disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn the attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks." Following this statement, President Obama reiterated his claim at the Democratic Convention that Mitt Romney would return America's foreign policy to "an era of blustering and blundering."

This administration is also blaming House Republicans for politicizing the tragedy and for cutting funds for embassy security. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FLA), chairperson of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, responded to this criticism by telling American Thinker how unbelievable it was for the Obama administration to complain that the House Republicans would dare ask questions about the attack. She believes that this administration "is trying to sell a bill of goods to the American people, that there is no longer a terrorist threat because they killed Bin Laden. He does not want to admit that our country is still under siege. Obama's claim that the world is safer and there is no longer a terrorist problem goes out the door with the Benghazi attack."

She also refutes the claim that House Republicans refused funding. According to the congresswoman, this administration never submitted a single request for funding of the Benghazi consulate. She emphatically stated, "Congress did not deny requests for additional funding in Libya. In fact, the Republican House voted to increase by almost $100 million the funding for worldwide security protection and increased diplomatic security funding. I am the one who receives requests and I can tell you this administration never requested funding for Benghazi."

Because none of the other blame game accusations have stuck, the intelligence community is now the victim. During the debate, Vice President Biden said that the faulty narrative of blaming the video reflected what was told to them by the intelligence community and that they were not informed of requests for more diplomatic security.

Not true, says Jose Rodriguez Jr., the former director of the CIA's National Clandestine Service. He refers to the comment made by Director of National Intelligence Matthew Olson on September 19th, who bluntly said the four Americans "were killed in the course of a terrorist attack... we are looking at indications that individuals involved in the attack may have had connections to Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda affiliates."

Rodriguez is hoping that intelligence community leadership will step up to the plate, although he is not holding his breath. He is very impressed that former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former Homeland Security Advisor Michael Chertoff slammed Biden for throwing the intelligence community under the bus. Hayden told American Thinker that he and Chertoff never before got involved because they considered themselves "as advisors to the Romney campaign, not spokesmen. We decided to offer a public comment because the behavior was so outrageous."

He argues that operational reporting differs from intelligence reporting. "Intelligence is stealing secrets from the enemy. We did not need to do that to understand what the attack was about because we had a video of what was happening in real time. Everyone I know and respect, currently outside the government, after hearing of the attack, simply said AQIM (al Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb). As the intell community was making whatever its first assessment might have been, operational reporting from the scene, eyewitnesses, and we now know streaming video to DC, were telling the true tale: no demo, armed men, complex attack, indirect fire, and sequential attacks against two locations."

Supposedly ODNI Clapper's agency provided the initial assessment that the attacks were due to the spontaneous protests. This was given to executive branch officials and members of congress. Although this initial assessment was revised as new information was gathered, they finally stated the obvious; it was an organized terrorist attack. Rodriguez does not agree with Clapper and defends the intelligence community, since he believes that within hours they knew it was a terrorist effort.

Hayden commented to American Thinker that he is "more interested in learning what happened after the bang, the attack. Last week's statement from ODNI was public and, whatever its intent, seemed well suited to give the administration cover for its early claims. I want these questions answered: When did you change your mind? Why did we not get a clearer explanation? Why did the explanation change? Why did there seem to be multiple stories from this administration? Why has the President said nothing for the last three weeks? Would such a news release have gone forward absent White House approval of the concept? Was the text shielded from White House review before publication?"

Rodriguez believes that the blame game occurred because President Obama was spiking the football by claiming he had Al Qaeda on the ropes. Unfortunately, thanks to this administration's policies of no longer capturing terrorists, they did not know if Al Qaeda was actually re-emerging or dissipating until Libya. Instead, Rodriguez says, "Al Qaeda is alive and well, and is willing and able to kill Americans. They are re-emerging in Iraq, are powerful in Yemen, and are trying to become a force in Libya. We do not have the intelligence of where they are going and what they are doing because this administration does not capture any more."

Those interviewed contradict Biden's claim. They believe that the intelligence community connected the dots pretty quickly, since this was a low-level, easy to understand attack. The Obama administration keeps saying they killed Osama Bin Laden, which is true, but unfortunately, Benghazi shows that they did not kill Al Qaeda.