Is the Obama administration starting to represent the attack in Libya in different terms? For the first time, yesterday, a member of that administration -- Matt Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center -- referred to it as a "terrorist attack" during a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing:
"I would say yes, they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy...
"We are looking at indications that individuals involved in the attack may have had connections to al Qaeda or al Qaeda's affiliates; in particular, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
"It appears that individuals who were certainly well-armed seized on the opportunity presented as the events unfolded that evening and into the morning hours of September 12th. We do know that a number of militants in the area, as I mentioned, are well-armed and maintain those arms. What we don't have at this point is specific intelligence that there was a significant advanced planning or coordination for this attack."
This statement about having no information on advance planning may have been an attempt to reconcile his position with that of White House spokesman Jay Carney. As recently as yesterday, Carney was still referring to the incident as being a "spontaneous" response to the film -- "with no evidence of a pre-planned or pre-meditated attack." The way he had it, there was a demonstration and some "bad actors hostile to the United States" were on the scene and took advantage of the situation. (This already is an adjustment to what he had said previously.)
According to a report from Foreign Policy, Susan Collins (R-ME) the ranking Republican on the Committee, took issue with Olsen. She said she had received a private intelligence briefing and believes the attacks were planned well in advance (emphasis added):
"First, I will tell you that based on the briefings I have had, I've come to the opposite conclusion and agree with the president of Libya that this was a premeditated, planned attack that was associated with the date of 9/11, the anniversary of 9/11. I just don't think that people come to protests equipped with RPGs and other heavy weapons. And the reports of complicity -- and they are many -- with the Libyan guards who were assigned to guard the consulate also suggest to me that this was premeditated."
(See below on the question of whether there really was a demonstration prior to the attack.)
Collins further expressed concern about the lack of security at the consulate, especially in light of an attack on that facility that had taken place in June.
According to intelligence sources who spoke to Fox News, a Libyan by the name of Sufyan Ben Qumu is believed to have been involved and may have led the attack. Ben Qumu was released from the US prison in Guantanamo in 2007, sent to Libya, where he was supposed to have been kept in jail. He was subsequently set free as part of Gadaffi's reconciliation with Islamists in 2008.
Ben Qumu's Quantanamo file indicates he has had a connection with those who financed 9/11 and ties as well with an Al Qaeda affiliate group known as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.
The intelligence source in Libya who spoke directly to Fox says there was no demonstration against the film going on in Benghazi before the attack.
Isi Liebler wrote a good piece in today's JPost, regarding "Appeasement and the lessons of history":
"There is an iron law in history. Appeasing xenophobic movements or totalitarian regimes invariably leads to disaster, encouraging escalating demands to levels which either culminate with surrender or make armed conflict inevitable.
"Had Chamberlain not continued appeasing the Nazis, we may have avoided World War II, or at least been better prepared and suffered substantially reduced casualties.
"President Ronald Reagan, besmirched by liberals as a warmonger, assumed a hardline position against Soviet expansionism which led to the collapse of the Evil Empire. His philosophy, reflected in the following extracts from the 1964 speech which launched his political career, resonates eerily with our current situation:
"There is no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there is one guaranteed way you can have peace- and you can have it in the next second - surrender.
"Every lesson in history tells us that the greatest risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter our well-meaning liberal friends refuse to face..."
Liebler is referring to accommodations with radical Islamists and the risks incurred by doing that (emphasis added):
"Despite the fact that the US provides Egypt with $2 billion of aid annually, the [Egyptian] police stood idly while the Cairo US embassy was attacked by mobs chanting 'we are all Osama.' President Mohamed Morsy, who prior to being elected had denied that al-Qaida was responsible for 9/11, waited 24 hours before making a mealy-mouthed criticism of the violence (on Facebook!). He also warned of future reprisals if 'insults to the Prophet were not suppressed.'
"In addition, the ruling Muslim Brotherhood called for more protests and had the gall to demand further US apologies.
"Morsy will soon be hosted in Washington by Obama. He intends to request that the president release Osama bin Laden’s former ally, Sheikh Omar abd al-Rahman, serving a life sentence in prison for conspiring to blow up the World Trade Center.
"By failing to adequately condemn Morsy's tepid response to the embassy outrage or postpone his visit, Obama is signaling Islamic radicals that employing violence and killings will succeed in intimidating infidels."
Charles Krauthammer, however, has Iran and not Egypt in mind in his piece today, even though the theme is the same (emphasis added):
"There are two positions one can take regarding the Iranian nuclear program: (a) it doesn’t matter, we can deter them, or (b) it does matter, we must stop them.
"In my view, the first position - that we can contain Iran as we did the Soviet Union - is totally wrong, a product of wishful thinking and misread history. But at least it’s internally coherent.
"What is incoherent is President Obama’s position. He declares the Iranian program intolerable - 'I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon' - yet stands by as Iran rapidly approaches nuclearization.
"A policy so incoherent, so knowingly and obviously contradictory, is a declaration of weakness and passivity. And this, as Anthony Cordesman, James Phillips and others have argued, can increase the chance of war. It creates, writes Cordesman, 'the same conditions that helped trigger World War II - years of negotiations and threats, where the threats failed to be taken seriously until war became all too real.'
Abbasi Davani, who heads the Iranian delegation to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has admitted in an interview with Al Hayat that they sometimes lie because there are intelligence agencies keeping tabs on Iran's nuclear development that have infiltrated the agency:
"For our part, we sometimes gave false information to protect our nuclear sites and our interests. This inevitably misled other intelligence agencies."
This, of course, is the very same Iran with which Clinton expressed hope of having "good faith" negotiations.
As far as those negotiations go, a third round of talks between Iran and the P5 + 1 group ended recently without progress. And now the US, Britain and France have issued a warning to Iran that time is running out for a diplomatic solution.
But it is all so amorphous and ultimately without meaning. When will time run out and what will actually happen when it does?
Returning for a moment to Matt Olsen's testimony before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, he also said, according to Arutz Sheva, that:
"Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force terrorists and their proxies are behind recent attacks on U.S. officials and may soon try to strike in the United States."
Hope everyone in the US is paying attention here. According to Arutz Sheva, the mainstream media in the US is not picking up this story, which has been covered only by the Washington Times.
Hey, there's no point in getting the American electorate upset about how Obama is responding to Iran, is there?
Somewhere today I read that Israel may yet save America. Who knows? It's possible.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.