Should the U.S. Have Expected Trouble in Benghazi?

I note, with interest, growing evidence that the United States should have expected trouble at the consulate in Benghazi. No less a personage than the late ambassador, Chris Stevens sent the State Department a diplomatic cable in 2008 warning that the area was becoming a ground zero for dangerous lunacy. And the U.S. government reportedly had heads-up two days before the fact that attacks were being planned. The first report seems to be a given; if the second one pans out, somebody really screwed up.

From CNN:

Before he became U.S. ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens warned in a 2008 diplomatic cable of jihadist sentiment growing not far from Benghazi.

Stevens, who became ambassador to Libya this year,  was killed this week in an attack that U.S. sources tell CNN was planned by a pro-al Qaeda group of extremists. While it is not definitively clear whether this group, or what group specifically, is behind the attack, it's clear that Stevens expressed concern about a radical movement fomenting in the port city of Derna.

The cable was leaked in the trove that WikiLeaks released in 2010 and 2011, and CNN reported on it last year.

That earlier report said:

Derna even made it into U.S. diplomatic cables obtained by Wikileaks. A cable from 2008 describes it as a "wellspring of Libyan foreign fighters" for al Qaeda in Iraq. High youth unemployment, discrimination by the Gadhafi regime and the influence of veteran Libyan jihadists from Afghanistan all played a role in radicalizing a new generation.

"Other factors include a dearth of social outlets for young people, [and] local pride in Derna's history as a locus of fierce opposition to occupation," the cable said. "Most young men watched a mix of al-Jazeera news, religious sermons and western action films on English language satellite channels broadcast from the Gulf. The result was a heady mixture of violence, religious conservatism and hatred of U.S. policy in Iraq and Palestine."

Of more recent vintage, The Independent reports:

According to senior diplomatic sources, the US State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and "lockdown", under which movement is severely restricted.

This suggests that the Benghazi area has long been recognized as one in which special caution should be observed, and that American officials had good reason to anticipate the threat that resulted in this week's bloody tragedy. With recent reports that the Bush administration overlooked warnings in the months leading up to 9/11, it looks like the Obama administration may be emulating its predecessor even more than we suspected.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    "Most young men watched a mix of al-Jazeera news, religious sermons and western action films on English language satellite channels broadcast from the Gulf.

    Does this mean that the chairman of the Joint Chefs will call Michael Bay and ask him to stop putting Americans in danger with his films?

  • ant1sthenes||

    Don't test my loyalty to the first amendment, you asshole.

  • Bam!||

    Those aren't ideas, Mr. Bay, those are special effects.

  • Restoras||

    if the second one pans out, somebody really screwed up

    Perhaps, but given the current retard in the oval office is a Democrat, there will be no coverage in the media and, therefore, no repercussions.

  • John||

    The lead headline in today's dead tree New York Times is, I kid you not, Hearing from Obama Helps Heal Rift in Egypt

    WTF? Brezhnev never got that kind of press from Pravda.

  • WTF||

    I'm sure this is all Bush's fault, anyway. Obama can't be expected to fix everything in only four years.

  • tarran||

    I think they're taking their cues from the North Korean press now John. There aren't many other Stalinist institutions left in the world for the New York Times to ape.

  • John||

    I about choked on my coffee when I read that. And that was the only headline on the front fold about this issue. Nothing about Libya. It is like Libya didn't happen. And of course not a word about the intelligence regarding the Libyan attack. I don't think that has even made a US paper.

  • tarran||

    Dang! For a moment I thought you were chocking because you thought my witticism was funny!

    But instead it turns out you were appalled by the NY Times. I have to admit, some sadness. :)

    Then again, it's hard to compete with the NY Times when it comes to generating spit-takes.

  • NoVAHockey||

    For it to be effective the propaganda as to be believable. It's like Baghdad Bob or something over there now.

  • John||

    It really is. This doesn't even help Obama. It just makes them look ridiculous.

  • Bardas Phocas||

    But the Romney Riots (as the Media should call them) continue pretty much everywhere.
    Only The Obama can protect us from that crazy mormon.

  • John||

    President Romney is not doing enough to protect Americans!!

  • BakedPenguin||

    No, everything would have been absolutely fine if not for the movie.

  • Mike M.||

    Obama is probably secretly thrilled with just about everything going on over there. I'm sure he would have preferred that Stevens not get killed, but you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, right?

  • Spoonman.||

    You really think Obama is...pleased? This is a huge pain in the ass for him when all he wants to do is golf and campaign.

  • Mike M.||

    He no doubt would have preferred to get reelected and then have all this stuff happen, but yes, I think the idea of the radical Islamists taking over the entire Middle East probably pleases him greatly.

    Virtually every action the man takes is deliberately intended to have consequences that most of us would consider to be negative, and outcomes that most of us consider to be negative, in his mind are positive.

  • Michael||

    "Why can't I just eat my waffle?"

  • edcoast||

    If he attended a few more security briefings, it might have helped. Well, nah.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "This is not a case of protests directed at the United States writ large or at U.S. policy, this is in response to a video that is offensive to Muslims"

    and the stupid continues...
    http://freebeacon.com/carney-p.....ed-states/

  • WTF||

    Obama administration:

    "Let me be clear: This is Not. Our. Fault."

  • Tman||

    How the fuck does Carney sleep at night?

    Or look himself in the mirror without breaking down into the fetal position?

    This man I do not envy.

  • Pro Libertate||

    While it's true that no one expects the Spanish Inquisition, the fact is that they should.

  • BakedPenguin||

    What? But surprise is their greatest weapon. Surprise, and fear - are their two greatest...

  • NoVAHockey||

    "In a sign of the tensions the movie has sparked, Los Angeles County officials said the U.S. State Department had asked them not to release copies of the film permits containing information about who organized the shoot. Obama administration officials also flagged the trailer to YouTube and asked the company to review whether it violated the website's terms of service."

    http://www.latimes.com/news/lo.....7127.story

    WTF

  • John||

    This is called fascism.

  • tarran||

    Actually, it reminds me of this scene from To Be or Not To Be. IOW, Appeasement.

  • Lyle||

    Obama is sympathizing with the attackers.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Obama is a secret fascist.

  • db||

    If he is a secret fascist, then this truly is the Most. Transparent. Administration. In. History.

  • T||

    He should prosecute the whistleblower that leaked that news. How do you prosecute reality, anyway?

  • Brutus||

    I went and checked. This hunt for the movie's maker and request to squelch same are definitely violations of Obama's terms of service.

  • Lyle||

    I wonder if Hillary Clinton leaked this?

  • GILMORE||

    CNN around noon today =

    •3 killed in protests at U.S. Embassy in Tunis
    •Afghans chant 'Death to America'
    •Armed men set fire to KFC in Tripoli, Lebanon
    •Rocks thrown at U.S. Consulate in India
    •More protests in Iraq, Syria and Jerusalem
    •Should Obama apologize?
    •Magazine publishes topless photos of UK's Catherine
    •Thousands storm + burn the German Embassy in Sudan

    I truly believe the appropriate reaction to this shit by our government should be, "The US government is not responsible for YouTube videos. You people are fucking crazy. Fuck off or we start shooting. Thank you."

  • Nephi||

    And nothing happened.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement