Editor's Note: This column was coauthored by Bob Morrison.
As presidential debaters clash over the meaning of a Rose Garden general reference to “acts of terror,” and whether that phrase was applied to the murder of our ambassador to Libya and three of his colleagues, and with a debate moderator throwing a “life line” to one of the candidates, it’s interesting to note something else said in the secure environs of the White House complex the bright morning after that night of flame and death in Benghazi.
It’s almost like Poe’s short story, The Purloined Letter. The critical evidence is in plain sight. The day after the murders of the Americans, President Obama promised to cooperate with our presumed friends in the new Libyan regime in Tripoli. Here’s what he said:
The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack. We're working with the government of Libya to secure our diplomats… And make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people.
Rose Garden Statement, September 12, 2012
The “make no mistake” phrase has been poll-tested, no doubt, to suggest the speaker is most resolute, most firm. In this context, however, the phrase is as vacuous as Bill Clinton’s definition of “is” is, or Joe Biden’s definition of “we.”
The candid world has already seen just how cooperative this new Libyan regime is. The New York Times inadvertently showed us the spots of this leopard in its story on the reported death of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi back in May.
Tripoli’s new leaders refused to return him. But, under international pressure, they signaled a willingness to get to the bottom of the Lockerbie case, still unresolved after nearly a quarter of a century of struggle among nations and investigations that spanned the globe, touching on Iranians, Syrians, Palestinians and Libyans.
The Times then reported how Tripoli’s new rulers had declined to help the U.S. bring closure to the investigation into the bombing of PanAm 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. Recall, these are rulers whom President Obama helped to put in power. For them, he ordered NATO airstrikes against the dictatorship of Col. Muammar Khaddafi. For them, he has requested another $250 million in foreign aid.