The Department of State and the White House have peddled a series of shifting stories in an apparent effort to absolve themselves of responsibility for the attack in the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that led to the murders of four U.S. citizens.
Initially, they blamed the attacks on a YouTube video clip mocking Islam. Apparently, that line is no longer operative, according to the Associated Press:
The State Department says it never concluded that an attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya was simply a protest gone awry, a statement that places the Obama administration’s own foreign policy arm in sync with Republicans.
That extraordinary message, appearing to question the administration’s initial description of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, came in a department briefing Tuesday — a day before a hearing on diplomatic security in Libya was to be held by the Republican-led House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The committee’s chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., has accused the State Department of turning aside pleas from its diplomats in Libya to increase security in the months and weeks before Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans died in the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi. One scheduled witness Wednesday, Eric Nordstrom, is the former chief security officer for U.S. diplomats in Libya who told the committee his pleas for more security were ignored.
It’s a rather dramatic turnaround from one month ago, when administration officials were unequivocal in casting blame at the producer of the YouTube video (a supposed trailer for a movie that apparently doesn’t even exist). Will the Obama administration give the American people a straight account of what happened in Libya, and why? And will the president apologize to those who got it right from the start by questioning his administration’s preposterous attempts to spin the issue away?
Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin sums up the bottom line skillfully:
It is long past the time for the president to come clean, explain what he knew, why his administration was putting out a false story for days, why proper security was not in place, why he went on Pakistani TV to express regret about a movie and why no one has been fired for lying to the American people.
We have raised concerns since September 11’s incident. Now, more than four weeks later, we are troubled by the Administrations lack of response to the American people. With the massive problems facing our nation ($16 trillion in debt and high unemployment) it is time for the kind of leadership that will restore America back to greatness.
Talmadge Coley is a policy analyst and a member of the Concerned Veterans for America team