Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Out of the corner of my eye, as I was passing a television, I saw a plane fly into a building. The sound was not on, and I thought, it must be a small plane and a small building. An errant pilot or a plane with failing equipment that crashed when it intended to land.

I was wrong.

It was Sept. 11, 2001, and what I had seen out of the corner of my eye were the first moments of a coordinated terrorist attack on our country. The devastation and details would hit me later. Almost 3,000 Americans died that day. We were attacked by 19 young terrorist men who were determined to die for their beliefs.

The nation was unprepared for the attack.

We had failed to imagine what we ourselves could not imagine doing. It's easy to imagine what we would do; it's much harder to imagine what people with different backgrounds, belief systems, goals and objectives might do.

Since then, the world has become more fragmented and complex.

Last year, on the 11th anniversary of Sept. 11, terrorists attacked the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and four Americans were killed.

The details of who knew what, when, about the Benghazi attacks are still unclear. Why was it not identified initially as a terrorist attack? Why was an Internet video initially faulted? Who in the administration knew about the attack as it was happening? What was their response? Why was the date alone not enough to lead officials to consider that it was a terrorist attack?

On Sept. 16, the then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said during an interview, "We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned" and "Soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that in that effort."

Rice is now President Barack Obama's National Security Adviser. In this position, she is the senior official in the administration who serves as the senior adviser to the president of the United States on national security issues.

These past few weeks, as events involving Syria have unfolded, the light-bench strength of Obama's national security team has become apparent as the administration has bumbled and stumbled.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.