An American tragedy | VailDaily.com

An American tragedy

Jacqueline Cartier

Jackie Cartier

"What difference, at this point, does it make?" — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The problem is not the talking points crafted during an election cycle. That is expected.

The real concern is how far will someone go to secure that election? Would they be so concerned about the optics of military troops surrounding a U.S. foreign consulate that they would ask our military, CIA and allies to "stand down" and deny assistance? Would the election be more important than rescuing Americans under attack by an overwhelming number of terrorists at a U.S. consulate?

Could the president and State Department deny continued requests for assistance over a seven-and-a-half-hour period as these men begged for help, knowing that help was only an hour away? Could anyone in good conscience let these Americans die alone at the hands of brutal terrorists while they prepared for a fundraiser that evening? Madam Secretary, that is the (bleeping) point!

If these "talking points" were constructed to cover an election strategy, then that isn't merely incompetent, it is criminal (even if not illegal). If done for campaign purposes at the cost of American lives just to preserve a perceived reputation of having defeated terrorism, then that is political, and you have just traded blood for votes.

Opponents claim that this is a political witch hunt.

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First of all, most of the witnesses are Democrats.

Secondly, Obama made it political by his actions, via their "talking points" that made the rounds for weeks afterwards. It is not the talking points that matter, but rather to establish the chain of command, with the top person being the one who actually knew the truth. When seeking answers, this is the person you want. Who actually gave the "stand down" orders?

We have heard from Secretary Clinton, but where was National Security Adviser Tom Donilon? He has been MIA in all of this. Wouldn't an attack on our consulate warrant at least a phone call to the national security adviser? We must assume yes, so what did he do, and where is he? A United States diplomatic facility was under attack with 34 Americans at risk and the ambassador as a direct target, and no one at the upper levels knew anything? They are either lying or totally incompetent.

The epitome of arrogance is to falsely claim that these deaths were caused by a YouTube video while standing over the caskets of these dead bodies and lying to their grieving families, knowing that you could have made a difference and chose not to.

Gregory Hicks, deputy chief of the mission in Libya, who was on the ground in Tripoli, testified that more than 60 terrorists stormed the compound during the attack.

Now, perhaps help wouldn't have arrived in time, although recent testimony sharply contradicts that notion, particularly since Tripoli was only an hour away. But to have done nothing, to have not even tried, to have watched it happen live (satellite technology is that quick and accurate), to have not secured the facility and investigate immediately following the incident, and after more than eight months, not one arrest in this tragedy (aside from the uninvolved video producer) is abhorrent!

That is the worse-case scenario.

The best case is that the administration is just vastly incompetent. This group was totally unprepared for the reality of world politics. As people who have spent a majority of their lives in academia, it's all about the theory. However, theory, while valid, doesn't always work in the field. It's like being an aquatic specialist. Until you jump in the water, you are not a swimmer. And this administration does not have a Michael Phelps in the bunch.

Obama certainly wouldn't be our first incompetent president, and sadly, won't be our last. But incompetence is not the same as blood for votes. Therein lies the distinction and motivation for truth.

Is the administration evil or just stupid? It's not about the video and the subsequent talking points. It's about the possibility of selling out American lives in exchange for political gain. If there was a valid reason for letting these men die, then our country has a right to know.

Why were multiple requests for enhanced security denied, particularly with increased turmoil in the region and with Sept. 11 approaching? Eric Nordstrom, top security officer in Libya, listed 234 security incidents in Libya, with 50 in Benghazi.

In April, an IED was thrown over the consulate fence. Four days later, a similar bomb was used on a U.N. convoy.

In May, the Red Cross office was attacked. They closed it in August.

In June, another bomb exploded outside the U.S. consulate gate, creating a huge hole in the security wall. Later, an assassination attempt was made on the British ambassador just outside their consulate. They left shortly thereafter. That same month, the Tunisian consulate was stormed by terrorists.

Three days before the attack, a high-level Benghazi security official and battalion commander warned about deteriorating security in the area. So why wasn't local diplomatic security summoned? Why was fly-over permission never asked of Libya?

That night, Stevens called Hicks. "We are under attack!" he said. Hicks was denied authorization twice to deploy his emergency support team from Tripoli to Benghazi, only an hour away.

Mark Thompson, assistant secretary for counter-terrorism, called the White House personally to make the same request and was told that it was "not the right time," then was eliminated from further communication.

It is said that Stevens was alive when taken to an area hospital. That hospital is run by those claiming responsibility for the attack. We have no idea what he endured prior to his death.

There was plenty of warning of the impending crisis, and while Democrats try to blame the incident on reduced funding, the deputy assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, Charlene Lamb, stated that budget considerations were not a factor in her decision to deny added security in Benghazi. Thirty-four Americans were attacked, and four died.

This is not a political issue, this is an American tragedy.

Jacqueline Cartier, who has more than 25 years of political communications experience and is the president and CEO of Winning Images, recently moved back to Eagle-Vail from Washington, D.C. She can be reached by email at WinningImages.Cartier@gmail.com or by phone at 202-271-4165. Visit her website at http://www.cartierwinningimages.com.

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