Friday, November 23, 2012

Stay focused on the real attack

On Sept. 11, 2012, U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stephens and three other people were murdered by terrorists in an attack in Benghazi.

At the time, anti-American protests had broken out in the streets of Cairo, Egypt, and nearly 20 other countries, apparently sparked by an anti-Islamic Web video made in the U.S. At the time of the killings, the Libyan protests seemed to start out as the same kind of protest as the others. We have since found out that more was involved, although it is still uncertain whether Ambassador Stephens was targeted or simply a high-value accidental victim of the terrorists.

Congress has oversight over U.S. intelligence efforts and is legitimately concerned about whether there was too little security at the embassy and whether corrections are needed.

However, feverish calls coming from some members of Congress for hearings involving the entire Congress are not only overwrought but seem like post-election sour grapes. The blame some are trying to place on U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice for some kind of cover-up or for gross incompetence is grossly misplaced.

It’s hardly news that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who with Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., has demanded a Watergate-scale investigation, is angry. McCain has made his public bones being angry. But the tone of his and Graham’s comments amounts to nothing more than grandstanding.

Sadly and too often, congressmen are better at grandstanding than at dealing with real issues like budget deadlines that have the potential to derail our economic recovery in 2013 or missile attacks on Israel that threaten to escalate into a full-blown war.

Terrorists count on the fact that the inevitable cracks left by incomplete information, imperfect planning, and the inability to predict previously unknown actions can be exploited.

If America’s diplomats in the Middle East have asked for more security and not received it, we should know why. If, despite the massive resources of the Central Intelligence Agency, FBI, and military intelligence, we had no information about the group that organized the Benghazi attack, we should know why not.

If our leaders had so little imagination that they did not assume organized terrorists would use street protests as cover, we must ask why not. 

Congressional discussions of the Benghazi attack should stay focused on improving operations. Angry outbursts and partisan attacks just divert the nation from the real issues and real solutions.


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