The difference it will make
Lessons from Benghazi

Reuters

The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames, September 11, 2012.

Article Highlights

  • It is appropriate to draw lessons from Benghazi, although others will undoubtedly surface. @AmbJohnBolton

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  • Benghazi lesson 1: The CIA shouldn't draft talking points for the White House or other executive agencies.

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  • Benghazi lesson 3: The White House must assign responsibility clearly among agencies operating overseas.

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Editor's note: This article originally appeared in the June 3, 2013, issue of National Review.

The May 8 congressional testimony of three courageous State Department whistleblowers foreshadows a substantially longer, more detailed public investigation into the September 11, 2012, Benghazi attacks. It is clear even now, however, that the Obama administration’s willful blindness to the continuing threat of international terrorism is a major reason for its mistakes before, during, and after the murders of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and his colleagues. It is appropriate already to draw lessons, although others will undoubtedly surface. Consider the following.

Lesson One: The CIA should not write “talking points” for members of Congress, the White House, or other executive agencies. It may take time to understand fully the drafting of the “talking points” and other narratives deployed by Obama-administration officials in the weeks after the Benghazi attacks. Unquestionably, however, one of the most stunning recent revelations is the CIA’s role in formulating U.N. ambassador Susan Rice’s script for her five September 16 talk-show appearances.

This article is available by subscription to National Review or PDF download.

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