The Corner

National Intelligence, National Disgrace

My New York Post column today examines the serial lying of the Obama administration regarding the Benghazi attack. We knew going in that the White House press secretary, my old friend and Time colleague Jay Carney (a good man in an impossible job), would have to cover for the boss, and that the State Department (by nature, the most reflexively anti-American cabinet department) would naturally Blame America First.

With a little more than a month to go before a crucial national election, the wheels are coming off the Obama administration’s national-security credentials.

The coordinated attacks on the US consulate in Benghazi, which killed our ambassador and three other Americans — and the worldwide explosion of assaults on our diplomatic installations elsewhere in the Muslim word — have vividly exposed the hollow core of the president’s foreign-policy “reset.”

It was just a few weeks ago at the Democratic national convention that Obama confidently declared that “al Qaeda is on the path to defeat and Osama bin Laden is dead.” And yet, on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, al Qaeda struck again against our lightly guarded consulate in Benghazi, where ambassador Chris Stevens was murdered — an attack, it now turns out, the United States had ample reason to suspect was coming.

But the intelligence community?

Finally, to complete this tragic farce, hapless Director of National Intelligence James Clapper emerged late last week to fall on his sword and admit the inconvenient truth: Yes, contrary to the administration’s repeated claims, the Benghazi attack (which involved military-grade weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades) was indeed “a deliberate and organized terror attack.”

“As we learned more about the attack,” said a spokesman, “we revised our initial assessment to reflect new information . . . some of those involved were linked to groups affiliated with, or sympathetic to, al Qaeda.

But even that’s bunkum. The intelligence community — which Clapper nominally heads — knew within hours that the attacks weren’t just coincidental blowback from a video that had been on the Internet for months. They were a direct assault on US diplomatic personnel, something that’s normally an act of war.

Let’s put it this way. We should expect the press secretary to spiel the party line. We should expect State — which as Mark suggested here now views its mission as bringing the world’s point of view to the U.S. instead of the reverse — to play nice with its pet savages. But a nation whose IC has been so thoroughly politicized and corrupted that its nominal chief is willing to take the fall for a White House election-season decision ought to be ashamed at its dereliction of duty.

The Bush administration’s largely craven domestic reaction to the 9/11 attacks — more layers of bureaucracy! A Department of Homeland Security! The Transportation Safety Administration! — needs a top-down overhaul in the next Republican administration, with most of the new additions junked. Which, the way things are going, ought to be some time in 2025, after Michelle Obama’s second term. In the meantime, CIA boss David Petraeus — who, under the old IC hierarchy, would have been the nation’s top intelligence official instead of Clapper — remains a hostage somewhere in the bowels of the Langley Home for Lost Boys. What stories he could tell . . .

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