The recent death of Christopher Stevens, the American Ambassador
to Libya, and three other Americans at our consulate in Libya was a
tragic loss of life and a sobering reminder of the challenges for
American foreign policy. A week ago Sunday, our U.N. Ambassador,
Susan Rice, announced that the violence that led to these deaths
was fueled by anger to "Innocence of Muslims," a video
parody of the prophet Muhammad.
However, at the same time of Ambassador Rice's statements,
Libyan President Mohammed el-Megarif claimed the attacks were
premeditated, likely in response to the killing of a senior
al-Qaeda leader in Libya earlier this year.
I no longer hold a security clearance, nor am I present at
sensitive discussions in the Oval Office or the Situation Room with
the President of the United States about top-secret national
security matters. So, like virtually everyone else offering an
opinion on this matter with even less national security experience,
I do not know what I do not know.
However, I do know that a narrative that suggests the killings
at the consulate were premeditated would raise serious questions
for the U.S. government. For one, a successful premeditated attack
would raise the question of why this Administration did not detect
and prevent the threat. It might suggest an intelligence failure in
collection and/or analysis. Were there warnings, and if so, were
A premeditated attack might also indicate our national security
policy to hunt down al-Qaeda and other Islamic extremists has not
had a deterrent effect. Additionally, it might be an indication
that our foreign policy strategy to persuade other countries to
deny sanctuary to these extremists is not succeeding.
Finally, if the killings were premeditated, then our government
must decide how to respond in order to deter future attacks on
American embassies and citizens overseas. The American people are
understandably weary of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Consequently,
our government may be reluctant to take action beyond predator
strikes for fear of a miscalculation that leaves the United States
in a Middle East quagmire.
The Administration has recently conceded the attacks in Libya
were likely premeditated. Early reporting of these types of violent
events overseas are often incomplete and inaccurate. I leave it to
others to question why the Administration's initial assessment
was wrong. I am more concerned about finding the guilty and
bringing them to justice.
This week President Obama addresses the United Nations where he
undoubtedly will again condemn the video. The President should also
be clear that he will deal forcefully with anyone or any group who
attacks American citizens or our embassies. The American people and
those who died in America's service deserve no less.
Previously published in Fox News Latino, September 24,
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