White House spokesman Jay Carney let President Barack Obama’s Benghazi cat out of the bag today, when he acknowledged that the president’s unilateral intervention in the 2011 Libyan civil war hasn’t led to a stable government in the Islamic and tribal country.
“There’s a difficult dynamic in place there, which is the result — the positive result in the sense that [Libyan dictator Moammar] Gadhafi is gone — but you know you have a situation in these countries where a dictator held together a nation through intimidation and force,” Carney said today.
The admission of chaos in Libya came as he was questioned about a newly revealed email which describes the administration’s effort to blame a YouTube video for the deadly Benghazi attack in 2012, instead of “broader failure of policy.”
When The Daily Caller asked him if the Libyan turbulence is an example of the “broader failure of policy” suggested in the memo, Carney equivocated, and eventually said “I would never tell you what to write.”
Since Moammar Gadhafi’s government was destroyed by Obama’s use of airpower, jihadis have gathered freely throughout Libya, armed with weapons looted from Gadhafi’s huge armories. Obama didn’t despatch any U.S. troops to guard the weapons or help build a central government, despite lessons learned in Iraq.
Some of the weapons and jihadis have reportedly fueled terror attacks in neighboring countries, including Algeria, Egypt, Syria, Mali, and the Central African Republic.
In September 2012, some jihadis gathered at the lightly guarded U.S. compound, which they attacked before attacking a nearby CIA compound. Four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, were killed by the jihadis. The compound was weakly guarded because officials were insisting that Obama’s Libya policy was successful, and Al Qaida was on the run.
The weak Libyan government did not block the jihadi attack, and reportedly slowed the arrival of U.S. aid. Since the attack, the U.S. government has closed the two facilities in Benghazi, even as it tries to track and catch the attackers.
Three days after the Sept. 11 attack, White House officials discussed how to spin the Benghazi disaster, which threatened to upset Obama’s November reelection strategy.
The officials quickly choose to blame the attack on Arab inability to control supposed anger over a YouTube docudrama produced by a Egyptian immigrant in California, rather than a possible “broader failure of policy” in Libya, Egypt and the Arab region.
The official spin, according to the memo, on page 13 of this link, should be that “these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”
The spin was successful. It kept the “broader failure of policy” issue out the 2012 election, and kept the GOP and the media focused on the credibility of the YouTube claim.
Since the election, GOP investors and media reports have focused on the White House’s promotion of the distracting video, not on the possible “broader failure of policy” that the officials have successfully sidelined for 18 months.
But Carney slipped today, and accidentally highlighted some of the “broader failure of policy” when he was asked by a reporter to explain why the U.S. has failed to catch the jihadis who killed four Americans, even after 18 months of investigations and surveillance.
“Attempts to move forward with a democratic government are challenging and are not often successful, at least, every step is not forward,” he admitted.
“It is a challenging case, to be sure,” said Carney, describing the fractured government’s limited ability and authority to identify and deport to U.S. courts.
“But can I assure you that the president’s direction was that those who killed four Americans will be pursued by the United States until they are brought to justice,” he said. “If anyone doubts that, they should ask — if there are any — friends and family members of Osama bin Laden.”
Carney indirectly acknowledged the U.S.’ limited influence in Libya when he cited the U.S. military’s inability to aid the U.S. people during the attack and officials’ inability to keep track of events during the simultaneous Islamist protest against U.S. embassies.
Carney said the officials focused on the video — not on local jihadis — because “that was what we understood to be true” at the time. Subsequently, officials admitted that the attack was a planned operation, not a spontaneous riot caused by anger at the poorly produced video.
Carney also tried to defend Obama’s policy in Libya by describing it as a campaign to stop the civil war, rather than to create a stable replacement government.
Obama intervened in 2011 “to save many, many [Libyans’] lives, and to advance through that, U.S. national security interests,” Carney told reporters at the midday press conference.
“The president believes that to this day,“ he insisted.
“There was not a belief that doing so would suddenly make Libya a calm place, given all the upheaval that was taking place throughout the Muslim world and the Arab world,” Carney said.
In place of the video distraction, Carney today offered several other distractions for reporters who might want to examine the “broader failure of policy” issue.
He denounced the GOP’s investigations of the administration’s post-attack diversions, and he preached at unidentified media outlets for getting some Benghazi stories wrong.
He declaimed with passion about the protests against U.S. embassies, he waxed eloquently about the post-attack plan to fortify U.S. embassies, and he enthusiastically revived disputes over the CIA’s so-called “Talking Points” related to the video.