My dad loved science fiction, UFO’s and all things one might consider X-Files like. He was no Richard Dreyfus building mountains out of mashed potatoes at the kitchen table but we watched Star Trek, read Bradbury, Asimov and weird eclectic titles such as “Arigo Surgeon of the Rusty Knife.” It amused him greatly and we would talk a lot about what was possible in the world or universe. There was one book I remember that discussed a phenomena known as spontaneous human combustion, basically a living person just unexpectedly bursting into flames. As a child I was not convinced this was possible — but I was forced to reconsider my belief while considering Ambassador Rice’s performance as she explained the attacks on our embassies over the past few weeks.
The sheer nonsense Rice spewed, attributing the attacks on our embassies in the Middle East to a “spontaneous” response to some cult web video was insulting to the commonsense and the intelligence of even the most gullible. Even more outrageous, in my view was the larger media establishment, particularly those in the media that lived and breathed 9/11, that gave credence to this inane explanation and failed by any legitimate measure to hold the Obama administration accountable. (Ironically. Ambassador Rice’s appearance eerily reminded me of the performance Colin Powell put on when making the case for WMD’s in Iraq. In Powell’s case I wasn’t sure he believed it, in Rice’s case I was sure I didn’t.)
The President, as Commander and Chief should be held accountable for our lack of preparation in securing American embassies and the safety of our foreign dignitaries. After all, you don’t have to be J. Edgar Hoover to surmise that our embassies in the Middle East might be a target of attack of all days on the anniversary of 9/11. Moreover he should be held accountable for the idiotic half-baked justifications that his administration and Ambassador Rice rushed to sell the American public. And above all the President should be held responsible for a policy that from Day One proclaimed that the phrase “War on Terror” would be struck from our lexicon.
Yesterday, the New York Times finally covered what Fox News and other conservative outlets have been reporting for weeks, what the Libyan President has said on the Today Show and what rational thinking told anyone with a shred of curiosity — the attack on Ambassador Stevens was not spontaneous; it was planned and executed by terrorists. U.S. officials investigating the attack say that their preliminary investigation indicates that members of Ansar al-Sharia, a fundamentalist group with deep roots in Benghazi, carried out the attack with the help of a few militants linked to al-Qaeda’s offshoot in Africa. Yes, the same al-Qaeda that regularly has its heads lifted to the heavens, not in prayer, but in hope of evading their own date with a not so spontaneous form of human combustion.
Senator Kerry in defending Ambassador Rice and the Obama administration today said, “Everyone who cares about the four fallen Americans in Benghazi would do well to take a deep breath about what happened and allow Secretary Clinton’s proactive, independent investigation to proceed.” Really? That advice is about two weeks too late and directed at the wrong parties.
The President is not omnipotent, he can’t prevent every attack and I’m not one who believes he needs to have every national security briefing drilled into him over his morning corn flakes by the NSA — but he should at least have the commonsense to stand down when he doesn’t know the facts. We saw this same rush to the microphone after the killing of Osama Bin Laden, flubbing detail after detail spiking the Bin Laden ball. But honestly, did anyone care if Bin Laden was armed or not – did it matter?
But what does matter, is that on the 11th of 9/11 anniversary Americans were attacked by al Qaeda again. What does matter is that more brave American’s are dead at the hands of people who despise everything that we cherish about our country. What does matter is that in the words of the Director of National Intelligence the event was a “deliberate and carefully planned terrorist attack.”
Where was the security? What are our goals in the Middle East? Hopefully there are more answers to come and it doesn’t include some youtube video.
Notwithstanding the efforts of Ambassador Rice, thirty-five years later I remain unconvinced that spontaneous human combustion exists. But self-immolation, now that is an entirely different matter – it can take the shape of a drone missile or misleading statements on sunday talk shows.