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Echoes of September 11 Attacks in Libya

As news from the Benghazi attack slowly leaks out, columnist Lisa Bigelow wonders if our foreign policy failures are doomed to repeat themselves.

They brought the war to us at the World Trade Center in 1993. They brought the war to us in Kenya and Tanzania. They brought the war to us on the USS Cole. And when we didn’t pay enough attention, they brought it to us a second time at the World Trade Center.

Now they brought it to Libya. And while we all hope that this senseless cycle of violence will soon end, rational, realistic thought points to the contrary. 

Initially, officials from the Obama administration – such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – insisted that the Libyan attack that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, resulted from an anti-Islam movie made by a little-known American.  

After several days of communication misfires, the administration quietly acknowledged that the attack was, in fact, coordinated and was not a spontaneous uprising resulting from the film (although the film certainly didn’t help).

Yet recent findings demonstrate that not only are we not taking adequate care of our overseas personnel, it appears as if we are in danger of repeating the same tragic missteps that led to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

The U.S. House of Representatives took up the matter this past Wednesday, where the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee pressed the State Department’s Diplomatic Security unit as to why requests for additional security were denied on multiple occasions, despite direct appeals from the late Ambassador himself.

Although the unit has doubled in size since the 1990s, no one could adequately explain why the United States is continuing to operate diplomatic missions in dangerous locations where past policy would have dictated evacuating American personnel and closing the post.

And no one could explain why the administration chose to increase local security staffing at the post in lieu of closing the post altogether or increasing American security – akin to “ordering in children’s Tylenol for someone who has cancer,” a senior official told Reuters – despite escalating violence, inadequate infrastructure and apparently-poor emergency planning logistics.

Undoubtedly, the Obama administration does not want to acknowledge that a terrorist attack occurred on its watch. Nor does it wish to admit that security should have been tighter, particularly during an intense campaign.

Yet doesn’t it make sense to keep security tightened, especially in a region marred by the recent violent acts euphemistically referred to as the Arab Spring? Would it not be wise foreign policy to keep our professional overseas diplomatic staff safe during the 11-year anniversary of the heinous World Trade Center attacks, especially as it was requested directly from the staff themselves, and most poignantly, in Stevens’ own diary, written on the day he died?

One cannot help but wonder if we are not walking the same sad path as we did in the years prior to 9/11, when our responses to attacks on our people and property overseas were met with a tepid response from home.

Are we doomed to repeat the sad history of that September day with the passive foreign policy of the Obama administration? Or worse, the insistence from Vice President Joe Biden that the White House “didn’t know” about the requests for additional security, as if such matters are trivial and beyond the scope of top administrative management responsibility? Or, astonishingly, are we expected to believe Democrat claims from Jay Carney and Stephanie Cutter that the only reason Benghazi is an issue is because it’s campaign season?

The fact of the matter is, these are scary times in the Middle East. And when the threat is real, there is no such thing as fear mongering.

In the years prior to 9/11, the overseas attacks were met with much the same response the Libya attack is getting now. Are we foolish enough to doom ourselves to repeated history and overlook the sacrifices that our overseas personnel make every day?

Let us hope not. I look forward with anticipation to the presidential foreign policy debate, scheduled for Oct. 22. I hope you are, too.

Tanya Carver October 18, 2012 at 12:02 PM
Lisa, thank you for this article. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also tried to pass a treaty to give the global gun control to the United Nations during this past summer. Several articles have been written on this, here's one of them: http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2012/07/09/obamas_coming_gun_control_through_the_un "Have no doubt that this plan is very real, with strong Obama administration support. In January 2010 the U.S. joined 152 other countries in endorsing a U.N. Arms Treaty Resolution that will establish a 2012 conference to draft a blueprint for enactment. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has pledged to push for Senate ratification." I believe that the 1st and 2nd Amendment are at risk under the "Obama Administration".
xxxoxox October 18, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Nonesense. The "source" you site is conjectural opinion based in right-wing paranoia. These are not facts and Townhall is not a credible source. The current administration has done little to address gun-control and yet the false narrative that "Obama wants to take your guns" runs amuk like some Pavlovian response. Works great for the gun industry as cultural paranoids keep buying them on their anticipation of the UN takeover
Tanya Carver October 18, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Stephen, I know that you like to use the word "paranoia". Is the Washington Times also not a credible source to you? http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/jul/30/second-amendment-at-risk-in-second-term/ I do not know if you have traveled outside of CT in the past several months, but I have. By far, the majority of people that I have spoken with share the same concern as I do.
xxxoxox October 18, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Same issue -speculation, not fact. Yes there are Democrats in Congress that support more gun control laws but we are talking about different branches of govt. How does this prove the President's agenda as his is Executive rather than ledislative. People are seeking to ascribe this agenda to P. Obama as an election year tactic -as you have tried. There is no evidence for it. You dont need evidence for a concern or opinion, but dont present these as justifible facts as they are anything but. People sharing concerns does not grant them greater legitimacy but simply proves that there are ample respoitories for NRA propaganda
Craig Zac October 26, 2012 at 11:59 AM
All I know is the only thing killing the 2nd amendment will do is strengthen the criminals. I mean why do the anti gun folks think that outlawing guns and gun ownership is going to stop people from having them? go look at some of the documenteries about street gangs, almost everyone I see tells you how the gang bangers have better firepower than the police, these kids can get fully automatic weapons, Army issue weapons... and they arent buying them from the local gun store! Law abiding citizens should not have to lose a right to bear arms just because some one says so or goes nuts and shoots some people.. ( its actually easier to use a bomb than guns, ask Alquida) What would we be expected to give up next? free speach, religion, freedom of the press? will women still get to vote? what about politics? will we still have elections or will we just have a ruling party and subjects? What about equal rights? will we go back to slavery? Will we be forced to work 60 hrs in a factory "For the system" and make $10.00 a week? We will need permisson from the local authorities if we want to travel outside of the state. We will have to carry "papers" to go anywhere... It sounds far fetched but no one can say it will never happen, unless of course, they a psychic.. but, I would keep that to myself, ya never know when someone in government may reinact the witch craft laws, burning at the stake isnt my idea of the American dream...lol

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