…and then there’s defense.
According to Fox News, there was this exchange during and immediately after a day of testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform last Wednesday. At the end of his testimony, wherein he had expressed his frustration at not only not getting the additional security personnel and equipage he’d been requesting for the security of the consulate in Benghazi but getting the assets he already had materially reduced, LtCol Andrew Wood, former head of our Tripoli embassy’s military security, said
We were fighting a losing battle. We couldn’t even keep what we had[.]
Eric Nordstrom, erstwhile head of regional security for State, closed his own testimony by recounting a conversation he had had earlier with State about his own request for more security personnel. That conversation included this Nordstrom frustration remark:
You know what (is) most frustrating about this assignment? It’s not the hardships, it’s not the gunfire, it’s not the threats. It’s dealing and fighting against the people, programs and personnel who are supposed to be supporting me.
And I added it by saying, “For me, the Taliban is on the inside of the building.”
In response, Under Secretary of State for Management, Patrick Kennedy, in a post-hearing press conference called for the purpose, emphasized that Wood’s team was in Tripoli, not Benghazi. He also carefully pointed out that expanding Wood’s team and extending its area of responsibility to include Benghazi would not necessarily have prevented the attack on Benghazi. After all,
The assault that occurred on the evening of Sep 11…was an unprecedented attack by dozens of heavily armed men[.]
Deterrence is not the only means of defense, as Nordstrom and Woods—and anyone with any competence in security—understands. Sometimes defense involves, well, actual defense. Actually shooting back. Actually killing the attackers. Even those taking part in “an unprecedented attack by dozens of heavily armed men.”
Listening to the experts on the ground, rather than putting the political theater of “acting normal” in a still-fluid environment (however hard the Libyan government and people may be trying) ahead of the lives of our embassy staff, would have put more assets into the area, would have beefed up the security at the Benghazi consulate.
Sure, the attack would have gone in, anyway. As we now know—and as it turns out, State knew at the time—this was a terrorist assault that was going to occur. Period. But the plussed-up security might have successfully defended the consulate against those dozens. Even without that, it might have saved the lives of our Ambassador and those three men who died with him in the terrorist assault.
But it’s more important to maintain the Obama narrative and get him reelected than it is for State—and the Executive Office—to do their jobs and to allow the security personnel they’ve emplaced for actual security to do theirs.