DE-FUSING THE BEN GHAZI RHETORIC

The attack on the temporary outpost in Ben Ghazi occurred last September 11, claiming the lives of four Americans, including Christopher Stevens, the Ambassador to Libya. The Republicans in Congress have been trying to use this to continue to obstruct President Barack Obama’s Second Term Agenda. They have also used Ben Ghazi to attack (then) Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton. Both Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) have suggested that Secretary Clinton should not hold higher office, perhaps reflecting their own fears that she might be an unbeatable opponent in the Presidential Election, in 2016.

It is important to note that President Obama called on Congress to fully-fund his budget request, on Thursday, for Embassy Security, as noted in the linked article from the San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Obama-Congress-must-fully-fund-embassy-security-4522552.php.  Republicans in Congress cut $300 Million, last year, from the Obama Administration’s request for $2.4 Billion for Diplomatic and Embassy Security.  So, there might be plenty of blame to go around.

You might recall that there were a number of Congressional Hearings on Ben Ghazi last year; however, they might have wanted to just brush them off again now–to go along with the ones on the IRS investigation of “right”-wing super-pacs and the Justice Department subpoenaing the Associated Press phone records.

So far, Former Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Retired Admiral Mike Mullen, Co-Chairmen of the Accountability Review Board, testified that they did not interview Secretary Clinton in depth because decisions came from a much lower level. They will testify before Congress again. They did, however, blast the Administration and State Department for mismanagement.

General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Former CIA Chief, David Petreus, have all stated that that information about what the situation in Ben Ghazi was inadequate to send troops, and they questioned whether the requested F-16s were the right airplane. Namely, how do you assault your own base without knowing where the Americans are located?

It is important to consider that many State Department Facilities are also staffed by other Government Departments: Commerce; EPA; Treasury and, of course, the CIA, among others. And, each of these departments has its own chain-of-command, perhaps blurring viewpoints and communications. Ben Ghazi, in fact, is reported to be primarily a CIA outpost.

Surely, the effectiveness of management can be improved, adequate funding provided, especially for security, and the intermediaries in the respective chains-of-command need to work more closely together. At the same time, both Congress and the Administration could also work better together if they drop the politics and ideologies when they are doing the people’s business. I won’t hold my breath though.

NOTE: For Full Disclosure, there are rumors flying around the Internet that Gen. Carter Ham, Commander of the Africa Command, was relieved from his Command since he disobeyed direct orders not to send a military team, on a seven hour flight, to Ben Ghazi. The rationale for not deploying the troops was because the situation on the ground was unknown, especially the exact location of the Americans.  Relief of Command is common in situations where direct orders were disobeyed.

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