As Trey Gowdy shows why he was a very successful prosecutor before becoming a legislator, it should be remembered why Ambassador Stevens was in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, a flashpoint date for any crazed islamic terrorist. Apparently there was a surplus of budgeted funds that had to be spent before the end of that month when the fiscal year ended. So Stevens found himself in a city besieged by al Qaeda linked terrorists in a hostile nation like Libya that was entering a new unstable phase in it’s violent and corrupt history. Stevens and Information Management Officer Sean Smith knew they might die that very night as Smith’s posting on the internet revealed. Benghazi was meant to be a symbol of the new democratic Libya and those Libyans who opposed Gadafi. And Stevens was there to supervise the spending that would help achieve that symbolic and real status for the city. Benghazi was also a strategic point, where arms were smuggled to opponents of Gadafi and into Syria as well. It turned out tragically to be a symbol of bureaucratic bungling and failed security, more than anything else.

But Benghazi is also another example of blowback. Once again, this time far more quickly than in Afghanistan for example, islamic terrorists used the instability to turn on America. This does not mean that because of blowback the US should do a Rand Paul retreat from the Middle East, North Africa, and elsewhere. That would be a disaster, now and for a long time to come. What it does mean is that politicians with little experience and training in security – in the fullest sense of the word – need to listen to those who do know about how to conduct covert and overt operations in the Middle East and North Africa and other volatile and extremely dangerous regions of the world. That desperate requests for added security were ignored while Clinton tried her hand at playing spy chief is unsettling and must have had, and undoubtedly has, a very demoralizing effect on those in intelligence and the diplomatic service who risk their lives in the service of America’s foreign policy.

But it also must be remembered that CIA personnel arrived late. Bureaucratic delays waiting for the thumbs up from someone higher up in the command chain – yes it was in terms of mere minutes but those minutes likely cost lives – on the part of the intelligence community in place in Benghazi sabotaged the rescue attempt. The amount of assets nearby or reasonably close were overwhelming. They arrived late. All of them. Let us hope that from the tragedy of Benghazi lessons are being learned by all. By Hillary Clinton who seems unwilling to admit the disaster that occurred under her supervision. Or by others actors, who it must be said, often seem to have to operate under the burden of government officials worried more about media coverage than lives at stake.

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