Mona Charen
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The first statements from the Obama administration about what happened in Benghazi seemed plausible. There were, after all, protests throughout the Muslim world on the anniversary of 9/11 -- some incited by Islamists using an obscure video to arouse anti-American fervor in the mobs, and some, no doubt, just pelting U.S. embassies on general principles. When the administration explained that one of those protests had spun out of control and led to the murder of our ambassador and three other Americans in Libya, there seemed no reason to doubt it.

For a day. But within hours, the administration account deflated like a punctured balloon. CBS reported that there was no protest outside the consulate in Benghazi. Members of Congress who were briefed said the attack was a military-style assault. We learned that an al-Qaeda affiliate claimed responsibility for the attack. It was reported that Ambassador Stevens had noticed increased al-Qaeda activity, had feared for his safety, and had requested additional security, only to be turned down. Yet day after day, the administration continued to distort reality by referring to the Internet video.

Most of the press was willing to let the story fade because the man in charge is their man, and he is in a tight race for reelection. But Fox News, Eli Lake of The Daily Beast, and one or two others have revealed details about the administration's handling of the crisis that are beyond embarrassing -- they verge on malfeasance.

According to Fox's Jennifer Griffin, former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, who was part of a small team at the CIA safe house about a mile from the consulate, heard shots fired at 9:40 p.m. He urgently requested backup from the CIA and asked permission to head to the consulate to help. The request was denied three times. He and his team were told to "stand down."

Woods and others disobeyed orders and headed over to the consulate where they rescued several people and carried away the body of Sean Smith. They did not find the ambassador. Upon returning to the safe house, they again requested military back up and were again denied. They were soon under fire. The fighting there went on for four more hours. Washington was in constant touch with personnel in Benghazi through email. In addition, Griffin reports, a special operations force was stationed only 480 miles away at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Italy. They could have flown to Benghazi in less than two hours. The New York Post further reports that a military drone aircraft was over Benghazi at the time of the attacks, relaying real time information back to Washington.

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Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
 
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