Heritage Foundation's Carafano: Hard to Argue Benghazi Was Not Premeditated

Wednesday, 19 Sep 2012 05:40 PM

By Patrick Hobin and Kathleen Walter

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The Obama administration’s argument that the attack on the U.S. ambassador and his staff in Libya was not premeditated is hard to reconcile with reports from the State Department and the Libyan government, Jim Carafano, the Heritage Foundation Deputy Director and a leading expert on defense and homeland security, told Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview.

Carafano said the reporting does not align with the administration’s view of the events in Benghazi that left four Americans dead, including the U.S. ambassador, Chris Stevens.

Watch the exclusive interview here.



“I’ve seen some of the reporting which actually came out from the State Department and when you look at some of the eyewitness reporting you got from the Libyan government, I don’t see how anybody can argue that the assault on the ambassador and his staff wasn’t premeditated,” he said. “So I don’t know how you reconcile the kinds of things Susan Rice was saying over the weekend with the facts.”

There is also some concern — based on assessments by Homeland Security, the FBI and other federal agencies — about the unrest seen across the Middle East, Africa, and France coming back to the United States, Carafano said.

There’s no telling if the unrest across the Middle East will worsen, Carafano said.

But he said there are ominous signs.

“We just had an announcement on Pakistan that the government is going to have an official holiday, an official national holiday to let people go out and protest against this anti-Islamic film,” he said. “That’s just incredible. I mean, here’s a government that’s supposed to be working with us which is just creating an opportunity for huge anti-American demonstrations.

"That’s really kind of breathtaking . . . It really depends on what governments all over the world do in response to this and Pakistan is a great of example of what people should not be doing.”

America is sending signals of weakness throughout the region, including the upcoming devastating defense cuts, Carafano said, which could make it more of a target.

“All of the signals we are sending is America’s running away, whether it’s distancing yourself from Israel or when you’re looking at very, very significant defense cuts which limit our capability to act in that part of the world,” he said. “And even on top of that, these automatic cuts, which are required to go in effect in January.

"We’ve just done the analysis on that and that’s going to directly impact on the readiness and the capabilities that we could deploy in the Middle East and you can’t deny that people like Al Qaeda, which have always said that America’s just a paper tiger and America’s in retreat . . . I mean, even if you look at bin Laden’s last letters before he died, this was the strategy that he was advocating, that America is weak, America’s in retreat and we’re on the advance.”

The fallout of cutting defenses isn’t readily apparent, Carafano said, but emerges only when a problem arises and there is a need for quick response.

“The administration said, when they delivered their report just last week to Congress, they said national security will not be at risk and then they go on and they say, ‘Oh yeah. But readiness will be a problem, the ability to deploy units will be a problem, maintenance is going to be a problem,’” he said.

“The reality is we do what’s called global forcing, which is we have the capacity — and we don’t have enough military to be everywhere and do everything — so we have the capacity and we have to, worldwide, if a problem happens in one part of the world, we have to take forces from another part of the world to send them there. So it’s very, very difficult to say how are we unready because until something happens, you really don’t see those limitations.”

He went on to add, “It’s like having a fire department that can’t cover the entire town and you don’t notice that when there’s one fire over here. But if there’s one fire in this part of town and there’s another fire in that part of town, that’s when you get to see how really unready you are. These are all signs of the growing hollowness under the president of the U.S. military in the last four years and, although we can’t put our finger on it, it’s very alarming.”

Turning to security at next week’s United Nations General Assembly, Carafano said any time “you have a large number of people and you have the world’s attention is a potential target.”

He continued, “If you go back and read some of the documents that have been released from bin Laden’s hideout there and look at some of the things that he was obsessed with, trying to find some way to do something on the anniversary of 9/11 so doing something during the U.N. Week wouldn’t be out of the question.”

“The only thing I’ll say about that is people say, ‘Oh, well just do something during the World Series or do something at the U.N.’ Yeah, you’ve got the world’s attention so there’s a higher likelihood of doing that but it’s also much more difficult from a terrorist’s perspective to survey the target, to do the rehearsals, there’s heightened security, you don’t know what the security’s going to look like so sometimes these big anniversary things actually wind being harder targets and you’re much more successful doing something like what was done on September 11th is you hit people in the most innocuous spot on the most unremarkable day of the year.



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