They knew that was a cover story then. The lie has been well-exposed since. And yet they persist in avoiding accountability for this massacre. As well, they continue to make ludicrous distinctions between “core” al Qaeda, al Qaeda in the Mahgreb (AQIM) and outfits like Ansar al-Sharia. This time, Madame Secretary’s infamous answer might serve: What difference does it make? If any groups out there are jihadists (a forbidden word) or Muslim terrorists (two forbidden words), they don’t have to carry an al Qaeda union card. My purpose here is not to “re-litigate” the step-by-step actions taken or not taken that fiery night.
Instead, I think we should look at the broader picture. It is the duty of the President of the United States to safeguard our bases and embassies abroad. When an attack on our sovereign territory occurs, the president as commander-in-chief has a duty to respond forcefully.
President Reagan’s administration suffered one of the worst disasters of his presidency when Iranian-backed suicide bombers hit the Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983. Two hundred forty-one Marines and Navy corpsmen were murdered as they slept.
Reagan responded with force. He ordered the USS New Jersey to shell the Iranian-backed Hezbollah training camps in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. Within days, Reagan changed the scene of action to the Caribbean, where he liberated a 100,000 people of Grenada from the grip of Communism.
The point here is not to offer the Reagan response to the Beirut bombing as the ideal. It was one of the worst moments of the eight years under Ronald Reagan. But in retaliating as he did in 1983, Reagan showed U.S. determination. He continued his show of force in 1986 with a raid on the command-and-control facilities in Tripoli. When Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi bombed an American bar in West Berlin, Reagan brought down destruction around the flamboyant colonel’s ears.
We know that we cannot always avoid attacks in a dangerous world. The key is to let America’s enemies know that they will pay a heavy price for any violence against Americans.
That is why President Obama and Hillary Clinton deserved kudos for the raid on Osama bin Laden. That is also why they should be sharply criticized for their lack of preparedness in the dangerous circle of Libya and their weak response in the wake of the Benghazi attack.
Even if some Americans’ action—a video, a burning of a Koran, some cartoons that may offend some Muslims—had been the precipitating event that led to attacks on our embassies, President Obama and Sec. Clinton had a duty to anticipate and protect our military and diplomatic outposts throughout the world. And had an attack succeeded, they had a duty to exact retribution in a powerful and convincing way.
Most of all, they had a duty not to lie. They may have deceived American voters in the short term, but they are not deceiving our enemies. And they owed it to the members of our military and our diplomatic corps to tell the truth.
No one is served by Obama and Clinton lying to the caskets. Few Americans will volunteer to serve in dangerous parts of the world armed only with this assurance: “If you are killed in the line of duty, the leaders of the free world will lie to your caskets.” That’s a mission impossible.