This may have been one of the more damning statements in today's Congressional hearings on the deadly terrorist in Benghazi, Libya on 9/11. Watch the State Department's security officer in Libya, Eric Nordstrom, explain how he was provided with no guidance or leadership from Washington, repeatedly denied resources, and left to fend for himself in a country crawling with dangerous jihadists:
Your takeaway quotation: "I raised that specific point in a meeting with the DS director in March, that 60 days there was no plan. And it was hope that everything would get better.” Hope. Governor Romney addressed that precise point during his foreign policy address at the Virginia Military Institute earlier this week:
Let's step back from the political realm and return to Mr. Nordstrom's testimony. He lamented the "complete and total" lack of planning and direction from Washington. His petitions for beefed up security measures and manpower weren't merely rejected (in fact, American security forces were reduced), they were actually criticized. Let's not forget that the State Department was well aware of major threats on the ground in Libya; their own intelligence determined that the risk of Islamist attacks against our diplomats was "high." But when their in-country personnel tried to do something to mitigate that risk and protect our people, they were told to stand down and just "hope that everything would get better." Totally unacceptable. These reveleations, quite frankly, fuel my original theory about the administration's cover-up. Here's what I posited a few weeks ago:
Why would Washington deny "repeated requests" for beefed up security in Benghazi, even when it was so obviously required? That's what investigations are for, but here's a common-sense working theory: This president has demonstrated many times over that the one area of government he's willing to cut -- as in real, net cuts -- is the military. Obama's regime-change war in Libya was managed in such a way as to minimize even the appearance of US involvement, to the point of "leading from behind." Boots on the ground were never an option because Obama wanted this to be a clean, casualty-free effort, unlike the terribly hard and costly work in Iraq and Afghanistan. More security for US interests would have meant more US forces in Libya -- which could be perceived as escalating a new war of Obama's doing. Couldn't have that politically, so we proceeded with an exceedingly "light footprint," to a lethal fault.
Once that reckless political posturing blew up in their faces, the White House scrambled to blame the attack on something -- anything -- else, be it non-existent "spontaneous" protests, obscure videos, or what have you. Anyone else have a better working theory? Meanwhile, the Obama campaign is angrily denouncing any questions about the assassination of a US ambassador and the sacking of a consulate in a war-torn country as "outrageous" and "political." Shameless. What's outrageous is that the massacre of our diplomats, despite ample warning and numerous requests for help. What's political is the cover-up, which was designed to muddy the waters and deflect blame during a campaign season. I'll leave you with this jaw-dropping statement from the State Department's Charlene Lamb, insisting that the administration had provided "the correct number" of security assets in Benghazi prior to the attack:
Issa can hardly believe his ears. Other government officials still can't bring themselves to use the word "terrrorists" to describe Amb. Stevens' killers -- they wouldn't want to "make any judgments," you see.
UPDATE - MSNBC is burying its head in the sand tonight, trying to pretend as if this Libya mess isn't a huge news story. Perhaps they're just, ahem, hoping that everything will get better for the president.
UPDATE II - The only excuse some Democrats could muster was that the security breaches came as a result of funding cuts. Allahpundit notes that not only is this patently untrue, if it were true, more Democrats voted for those cuts than Republicans.
UPDATE III - "We were fighting a losing battle. We couldn't even keep what we had." A devastating, enraging, heart-breaking exchange:
The former regional security officer in Libya, Eric Nordstrom, recalled talking to a regional director and asking for twelve security agents. “His response to that was, ‘You are asking for the sun, moon and the stars.’ And my response to him – his name was Jim – ‘Jim, you know what makes most frustrating about this assignment? It is not the hardships, it is not the gunfire, it is not the threats. It is dealing and fighting against the people, programs and personnel who are supposed to be supporting me. And I added (sic) it by saying, ‘For me the Taliban is on the inside of the building.’”
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography