Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

October 16, 2012

Obama administration denies mother answers about her son’s murder

Why is my son dead? That is all Pat Smith wants to know. Her son, computer specialist Sean Smith, was one of the four Americans killed on Sept. 11 in the terror attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. A month after she buried her son, a month after everyone all the way up to the president of the United States promised her answers, she says she is still awaiting those answers.

“That’s a funny subject,” Mrs. Smith said. “I begged them to tell me what was — what happened. I said I want to know all the details, all of the details no matter what it is, and I’ll make up my own mind on it. And every one of them, all the big shots over there told me that — they promised me, they promised me that they would tell me what happened. As soon as they figure it out.

“No one, not one person has ever, ever gotten back to me other than media people and the gaming people,” she said. “Hillary promised me. Joe Biden — Joe Biden — they all told me that — they promised me. And I told them please, tell me what happened. Just tell me what happened.”

The attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was a made-in-Washington disaster, a result of naive foreign policy consisting of apology and appeasement — projecting weakness surpassing even that of Jimmy Carter.

Every other world leader defends and promotes his country, but Barack Obama agrees with our critics and apologizes for America.

His pusillanimous posture sent a message to our enemies, and they have acted on our well-advertised weakness.

And now in the face of that inglorious policy failure in Libya, Mr. Obama has retreated to doing what he does best: passing the blame. “We didn’t do that; it was that video.”

Suggesting that an anti-Muslim video that hardly anyone on Earth had seen was responsible for that attack was ridiculous on its face, and was almost immediately discredited. Still, the administration continued to blame the video for about two weeks, before finally admitting what everybody else already knew: it was a planned terrorist attack. It then shifted blame to intelligence agencies for providing the administration bad information.

But, as time passed, the tawdry details emerged, showing that the State Department under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stubbornly refused to provide additional security forces for Libya as repeatedly requested.

The leader of the military security team in Tripoli, Lt. Col. Andrew Wood of the Utah National Guard, told various TV outlets that he and other embassy officials unsuccessfully attempted to extend his team’s tour of duty in Libya because of mounting security concerns. “The security in Benghazi was a struggle and remained a struggle throughout my time there,” Wood said. “Diplomatic security remained weak.”

A former security officer, Eric Nordstrom, said he was told in a phone call in July that the deployment of a 16-member American military site security team based in Tripoli could not be prolonged, according to a report by The New York Times. Although the Africa Command that oversaw the unit was willing to extend the deployment, the State Department said “no.”

Mr. Nordstrom told a Congressional committee recently he tried to improve security by asking for 12 agents, only to be told by a State Department official that he was asking for the “sun, moon and the stars.”

“It was abundantly clear: we were not going to get resources until the aftermath of an incident,” Nordstrom said. “And the question that we would ask is, again, how thin does the ice have to get before someone falls through?” We now know the answer.

Although he is still a State Department employee, Mr. Nordstrom expressed strong frustration in trying to work with the Department. “It’s not the hardships,” he said. “It’s dealing and fighting against the people, programs and personnel who are supposed to be supporting me.” And he made this revealing comment: “For me, the Taliban is on the inside of the building.”

There is no way the administration can fix this colossal, deadly screw-up, but it could at least keep its word by honoring Mrs. Smith’s loss and help give her peace in her hour of grief.

Mr. Obama should drop the cover-up and come clean with the American people. That means admitting the dramatic failure of his foreign policy, and admitting to playing petty politics to distract the public. However, accepting responsibility isn’t in the Obama Playbook, especially this close to the election.

James H. “Smokey” Shott, a resident of Bluefield, Va., is a Daily Telegraph columnist.

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