An Oct. 16 story about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, points out the meticulous work of the professionals at the State Department in contrast to the bellicose premature ranting of media and political figures. Several facts not considered by those commenting on the raid were contained in the story.
Benghazi was a consulate, not an embassy, with different purposes and security protocols. Libya is not a secure state. We desired to appear helpful but unobtrusive. The tragic loss of life points out the difficulties faced in those circumstances.
Al-Qaida affiliated groups now control the north of Mali, southwest of Libya, terrorizing people and destroying the culture. Cairo was in the midst of riots caused by the American video, causing Cairo staff to see a connection. State Department professionals obviously began investigating the entire situation immediately, taking into consideration facts beyond the scope of media or politics. Was the initial statement by Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, incorrect? Yes, it reflected the assessment of those under stress in Cairo. Was the castigation of her appropriate? No.
Our State Department in all its functions is mainly professional, not political. Yes, Secretary Hillary Clinton is a political appointee and has served well. State Department officials do difficult, dangerous work well. They deserve support from us, not opportunistic bashing from politicians. In all the furor, the stupidity of people putting out videos that undermine our standing in the region has been forgotten. Why? No political gain?
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