In the months leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, the Obama administration received intelligence reports that Islamic extremist groups were operating training camps in the mountains near the Libyan city and that some of the fighters were “Al Qaeda-leaning,” according to American and European officials.
The warning about the camps was part of a stream of diplomatic and intelligence reports that indicated that the security situation throughout the country, and particularly in eastern Libya, had deteriorated sharply since the United States reopened its embassy in Tripoli after the fall of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s government in September 2011.
By June, Benghazi had experienced a string of assassinations as well as attacks on the Red Cross and a British envoy’s motorcade. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, who was killed in the September attack, e-mailed his superiors in Washington in August alerting them to “a security vacuum” in the city. A week before Mr. Stevens died, the American Embassy warned that Libyan officials had declared a “state of maximum alert” in Benghazi after a car bombing and thwarted bank robbery.
Incidentally–and of course, I am sure that others have noticed this–all of the people who have told us for the past few weeks that the attack in Benghazi shouldn’t be politicized are currently busy politicizing Hurricane Sandy. I don’t necessarily mind that; in an election year, it is perfectly acceptable to discuss the federal government’s role in disaster preparedness and response. But you know something? It’s also perfectly acceptable to discuss war, national security, foreign affairs, foreign policy, terrorism, and whether a president did a good or a bad job responding to a particular terrorist incident. And it’s amazing that there are people out there who claim otherwise.