Editor’s Note – The fallout continues from “Benghazi Gate”. In the Vice Presidential debate last night, much was said, many smirks and inappropriate smiling occurred, along with continual interruptions and down right rude behavior from VP Biden – but the worst was throwing the intelligence community under the proverbial bus. This scandal is just snowballing now – where it ends is uncertain, and the ramifications may not include holding the right people’s feet to the fire.
However, America needs to know all the facts, and the responsible people must be held to pay for their acts, deeds, lies, cover-ups, ineptitude, and complicity.
There are two videos below, and pay close attention to the second one, its Amb. Stephens assessing the situation prior to the attack.
‘Blaming those who put their lives on the line’ for Benghazi debacle
Two former intelligence chiefs today blasted Vice President Joe Biden for making the U.S. intelligence community a scapegoat for ‘the inconsistent and shifting response of the Obama Administration’.
Michael Hayden, former CIA director, and Michael Chertoff, who served as Homeland Security chief, hit out after Biden stunned many in the intelligence community by insisting that the U.S. consulate in Benghazi did not ask for additional security before it was attacked on September 11 – directly contradicting what security officials and diplomats have testified under oath.
The tough joint statement was issued via the Romney campaign. In it they added: ‘Blaming those who put their lives on the line is not the kind of leadership this country needs.’
‘During the Vice Presidential debate, we were disappointed to see Vice President Biden blame the intelligence community for the inconsistent and shifting response of the Obama Administration to the terrorist attacks in Benghazi,’ they said in the statement.
‘Given what has emerged publicly about the intelligence available before, during, and after the September 11 attack, it is clear that any failure was not on the part of the intelligence community, but on the part of White House decision-makers who should have listened to, and acted on, available intelligence. Blaming those who put their lives on the line is not the kind of leadership this country needs.’
Hayden, a career intelligence officer and retired U.S. Air Force general, and Chertoff, a former prosecutor, both served in the Bush administration.
Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential running mate, hit out at the Obama administration’s handling of the Libya assault which killed ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
The Vice President defended the government’s handling of the crisis and denied that the State Department had turned down a request for security reinforcements in the months before the raid.
The heated debate exchange came just hours after presidential candidate Mitt Romney launched his own denunciation of Barack Obama’s response to the attack, saying the administration ‘failed to grasp the seriousness of the challenges that we face’.
Earlier this week, it was revealed that Stevens himself expressed concerns about security at the facility.
Also, the head of a special operations team helping out with security asked for ‘more, not less’ reinforcements before the government pulled dozens from Libya earlier this year.
But Biden, when asked about it by debate moderator Martha Raddatz, said: ‘We weren’t told they wanted more security there.’
Ryan kept up his attack, saying: ‘There were requests for extra security – those requests were not honoured.’
He compared the situation in Libya with the heavily guarded American embassy in France as he insisted: ‘Our ambassador in Paris has a Marine detachment guarding him, shouldn’t we have a Marine detachment guarding our ambassador in Benghazi?’
The Vice President attempted to deflect the blame for the security failures onto Republicans in Congress, saying that Ryan’s fiscal plan ‘cut embassy security in his budget by $300million below what we asked for.’
The pair also sparred over another controversial issue connected to the Benghazi assault, as Biden again insisted that the administration initially believed the deadly raid was the result of protests over an anti-Muslim YouTube video which were sweeping the Islamic world at the time.
‘The intelligence community told us that,’ he said. ‘As they learned more facts about exactly what happened, they changed their assessment.’
But Ryan replied: ‘It took the President two weeks to acknowledge this was a terrorist attack. He went to the UN and in his speech at the UN six times talked about the YouTube video.
‘Look, if we are hit by terrorists, we are going to call it for what it is: a terrorist attack.’
Former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich predicted on Friday that Biden’s uncompromising statements would ‘haunt’ the Obama campaign ahead of next month’s election.
‘Biden on Benghazi was so wrong last night, it’s going to haunt them from now until the next debate,’ the former House speaker told CBS This Morning.
Romney also launched a blistering assault on the Obama administration’s treatment of the crisis as he spoke at a campaign rally in North Carolina.
After an Obama official suggested that the tragedy had been politicised by Republicans, the GOP candidate responded: ‘I think today we got another indication of how President Obama and his campaign fail to grasp the seriousness of the challenges that we face here in America.’
He continued: ‘Mr President, this is an issue because we were attacked successfully by terrorists on the anniversary of 9/11.
‘President Obama, this is an issue because Americans wonder why it was it took so long for you and your administration to admit that this was a terrorist attack.’
Hours before the debate, two top security officials who had been to the consulate testified on Capitol Hill that they had made requests for more troops.
Former regional security forces officer Eric Nordstrom and Lt Col Andrew Wood, who was head of a Special Forces ‘Site Security Team’ in the country, placed blame on Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Charlene Lamb for rejecting their requests.
‘The takeaway… for me and my staff, was abundantly clear – we were not going to get resources until the aftermath of an incident,’ Nordstrom said. ‘And the question that we would ask is: how thin does the ice have to get before someone falls through?’
‘We were fighting a losing battle,’ Wood added. ‘We couldn’t even keep what we had.’
Lamb and Patrick Kennedy, the undersecretary for management, testified that they believed the security measures in place were enough.
On September 11, the day he died, Stevens wrote to Washington officials detailing a dispute involving the leaders of two prominent Benghazi militias who were responsible for security in the city, according to the Daily Beast.
The two men, Wissam bin Ahmed and Muhammad al-Gharabi, claimed that the U.S. was lobbying for centrist politician Mahmoud Jibril to become Libya’s prime minister.
They said that if he won the vote, they ‘would not continue to guarantee security in Benghazi, a critical function they asserted they were currently providing,’ according to Stevens.
Despite that warning, Stevens did not ask for more U.S. troops, and commented that Benghazi officials believed the city was becoming safer.
The cable made no mention of a U.S.-made YouTube video mocking the Prophet Muhammad which was originally thought to have been the motivation for the deadly assault on the consulate later that night.
The American compound was being guarded by members of the ‘February 17 Martyrs Brigade’, a militia which shared members with the groups run by Mr bin Ahmed and Mr al-Gharabi.
It was not only Stevens who saw potential security issues cropping up in Libya before the September 11 raid.
Wood said officials felt ‘like we were being asked to play the piano with two fingers’ after a number of troops were withdrawn from Libya in August.
He told CBS This Morning that worried embassy staff had approached him to ask if they would still be safe when his team had left.
‘I could only answer that what we were being told is that they’re working on it,’ he said.
He added: ‘Shooting instances occurred, many instances involved the local security guard force that we were training.
‘Constantly, there were battles going on between militias, criminal activity and that became an increasing danger as time went on as well.’
Wood claimed that other senior officials, including Stevens, had requested a boost in the U.S. security presence, saying: ‘We felt we needed more, not less.’
Although his team was based in the city’s capital Tripoli, Wood said he would have accompanied the ambassador to Benghazi had he still been in the country.
State Department officials said that as the Site Security Team was intended to help re-open the embassy in Tripoli, their departure from Libya was irrelevant to the subsequent security situation.
They also claimed that Wood did not know the details of the situation in Benghazi, which is 400 miles from the capital.
VIDEO: Paul Ryan and Joe Biden talk about Libya during the debate…
…and Ambassador Stevens assesses the situation in Libya in August 2011…