On election eve, the president claimed, "Four years after I took office, America's respect and resolve around the world is unquestioned." Yet just hours later, Osama bin Laden's successor, Ayman al-Zawahri, in a propaganda broadcast to radical Islamists in Somalia, said, "(The United States is) defeated in Iraq, and they are withdrawing from Afghanistan, and their ambassador in Benghazi was killed, and the flags of their embassies were lowered in Cairo and Sanaa." Now Fox News journalists Jennifer Griffin and Catherine Herridge and a handful of others have uncovered facts that point to a possible cover-up.
Thanks to their intrepid digging for the truth, we now know that a classified cable from Aug. 16 detailed vulnerabilities at the Benghazi facility that were identified by the State Department's regional security officer -- the official responsible for protecting diplomatic posts in North Africa. We also know that six weeks before the attack, Stevens requested additional host-nation security protection from Libya's Foreign Ministry. And we know for certain that on the night of the attack, U.S. diplomats and CIA personnel in Benghazi begged for help that never came.
What we don't know is what -- if anything -- officials in Washington did about any of these and a host of other problems leading up to and during this debacle. Why, for example, was our ambassador in Benghazi -- without a security detail -- on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks?
During a series of military assaults over more than seven hours against the consulate compound and a CIA facility about a mile away, at least two unarmed unmanned aerial vehicles and other sensors broadcast live imagery of the attacks to command centers in Washington. According to unnamed administration officials, there were no U.S. military forces or assets available to respond to pleas for help from the Americans fighting for their lives. But there are other reports of U.S. aircraft -- and armed UAVs -- that could have been dispatched to the scene. What's the truth?
The so-called mainstream media all but ignored the disaster in Benghazi in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 6 election. Our enemies now gloat that America's "awe is lost" and that our "might is gone." Members of both parties in Congress are finally demanding answers. They are right to do so.
The urgency to find out what happened in Benghazi is neither prurient nor political. An officer assigned here at SOCOM told me this week, "Everything that could go wrong in Benghazi did." That may be just one officer's opinion, but if it's even half-right, the facts need to be known now so steps can be taken to reduce the likelihood of its ever happening again.
Oliver North is the host of "War Stories" on Fox News Channel, the founder and honorary chairman of Freedom Alliance, and the author of "Heroes Proved." Join Oliver North in Israel by going to http://www.olivernorthisrael.com. To find out more about Oliver North and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.