September 12, 2012

US Ambassador to Libya killed - the response?

Following in the footsteps of their Egyptian brethren, a Libyan mob attacked the U.S. Consulate in the eastern city of Banghazi, killing U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others of the consulate staff.

Given the milk-toast response from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo following the attack in Egypt (see my article U.S. Embassy attacked in Cairo - the blame game), one must wonder how the Obama Administration will handle this situation. It is reminiscent of Tehran and Kabul in 1979?*

Given the revelation that Muhammad al-Zawahiri, brother of al-Qa'idah's heir to the late 'Usamah bin Ladin, was present at the demonstration in Cairo, and the well-planned and executed attack in Banghazi bears al-Qa'idah's level of expertise, one could conclude that the two incidents are related. We may never know, but the fact that two U.S. diplomatic facilities were attacked on the 11th anniversary of the September 2001 attacks seems to me to be beyond coincidental.

Although the situation is still developing, what is known is disturbing, and raises many more questions. Here are some that I'd like to see the media ask President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton - and I'd like the media to hold them accountable for their answers.

- Were American diplomatic facilities and military installations on a higher state of alert or readiness for the September 11 anniversary?

- If so, why was Ambassador Stevens not in the more-defensible U.S. Embassy in Tripoli (the capital)? Why was he at the undefended consulate in Banghazi, basically a house in a residential compound?

- Why were there no U.S. Marine security guards at the consulate, especially given the presence of the ambassador on September 11?

And the last, probably most important question is: What will be the American response? "Working with the Libyan government" is fine for a start, but they may not have the wherewithal or desire to bring the perpetrators to justice. We need to determine who did this, and bring justice to them - that's Rick-speak for hunt them down and kill them. It is the only thing they understand.

* In 1979, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Adolph Tubbs was murdered in Kabul, and in Tehran, Islamic militants loyal to Ayatollah Khomeini seized the American Embassy in Tehran - both with seemingly little consequence from the Carter Administration.