“No political pressure was applied to me by anyone at the State Department, the National Security Council, or anyone at the White House,” advised Ambassador Patrick Kennedy, the State Department official responsible for addressing security requests, during the October 10 congressional hearing on choices made about diplomatic security in Libya — choices that ultimately made it easy for terrorists to assassinate a U.S. ambassador on September 11, 2012.
I imagine I’m not alone in wondering if that was a lie. And as someone who spent a great deal of time working with officials on Capitol Hill regarding Libya-related concerns late last year, I find this all to be absolutely disgusting.
Does anyone believe that the Office of the White House does not regularly assert political influence on the State Department? Does anyone believe Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, herself a former first lady of the United States, does not take into account the political implications of her organization’s activities? Does anyone believe she does not encourage officials like Ambassador Kennedy to make decisions accordingly?
During the first year of Secretary Clinton’s job as first lady, a series of tragic events transpired at the hands of al Qaida-affiliated jihadis in another African country, Somalia. They culminated with a major political disaster for the Clinton administration that can be surmised with these three words: Black Hawk Down.
Does anyone believe for a minute that Secretary Clinton did not assess requests to deploy large numbers of American security personnel to Libya as political hot potatoes? If fulfilled, this might have led to events similar to ones that unfolded in Somalia under her husband’s watch unfolding in yet another place where we see a large and growing al Qaida presence.
After Secretary Clinton’s boss — ostensibly with Secretary Clinton’s encouragement — elected to deploy covert operators to train Libyans in the uses of weapons and tactics no doubt similar to those used to kill four Americans in Libya on September 11, why would Clinton want to see a large presence of uniformed U.S. servicemen in Libya?
The presence of U.S. soldiers might invite aggression from many anti-American Libyan elements — some of whom the U.S. may have just trained a year earlier.
It would be a lie to say that the situation that came to pass on September 11 in Benghazi — where months earlier an al Qaida flag was flown above a courthouse regarded to be the seat of the Libyan Revolution — is not a major political problem for Hillary Clinton’s boss.
But it would be a bigger lie to say that this situation would not have been an even bigger political problem had al Qaida-affiliated jihadis killed or taken hostage American members of the security team on hand in Benghazi months earlier, or members of the much larger U.S. security force requested by U.S. diplomatic personnel in Libya prior to September 11, 2012.
Indeed, al Qaida-affiliated jihadis in Libya touting such trophies as the dead bodies of U.S. soldiers killed protecting consulate personnel, or parading around U.S. soldiers taken hostage in the process of protecting American diplomats in Libya, would have been a much, much bigger problem for President Obama during an election year.
How could State minimize the chances of such scenarios unfolding in Libya?
The answer is: By not placing a prudent level of better-trained, American security forces in a country where we knew al Qaida’s presence had grown exponentially during the past year.
What were the results of this political decision?
The deaths of four good Americans — including a U.S. ambassador — and 9/11 2.0.
To borrow words from another U.S. president from Illinois who was also all too familiar with the inconvenient political fallout of war: “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time!”
To say that the decision to place a minimal level of security personnel in Libya was not politically motivated is to tell a lie. To say that a politically motivated cover-up is not underway is to tell another lie.
And to say President Obama has defeated al Qaida is to tell but one more big lie. Indeed, it seems al Qaida may have just defeated Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton by giving them enough rope to hang their political careers with on September 11, 2012.
Michael S. Smith II is co-founder and principal of Kronos Advisory, a counter-terrorism adviser to members of the United States Congress, and a senior analyst with Wikistrat. Follow him on Twitter via @MichaelSSmithII.