Middle East Intelligence Failure: Unconnected Dots
In an editorial that reads much more like an analysis brief, the Washington Times assembles for Americans the same dots the Obama administration saw and failed to connect, resulting in the nightmare scenario unfolding before our eyes. It is an important read.
[T]he attacks in Benghazi and Cairo were the result of massive intelligence failure at the top levels of government. There were many indications that extremists were targeting U.S. diplomats in Libya and Egypt months before this year’s Sept. 11 attacks. These deadly plans had nothing to do with a low-budget, anti-Islamic film. The Obama administration simply failed to connect the dots.
Consider the ‘dots’ pointed out in the Washington Times editorial. [Rather than a direct quote, the Washington Times' text has simply been reformatted for visual aid. Also for readers' information, data points have been augmented with links to outside news agencies' coverage of referenced events.]
- “Ambassador Christopher Stevens had been targeted in Benghazi before. On June 6, a jihadist group called the “Brigades of the Imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman” set off a bomb on the consulate perimeter, wounding one.” (CNN)
- “According to the SITE monitoring group, the Rahman Brigades said they were “targeting a group of ‘Christian overseers’ who were preparing to receive one of the ‘heads of instigation’ from the State Department.””
- “In Benghazi five days after the initial June bombing, the same group attacked a car carrying British Ambassador to Libya Dominic Asquith with rocket-propelled grenades, injuring two.” (Daily Mail)
- “The United Nations special envoy to Libya was also targeted.”
- “The Rahman Brigades also mounted several attacks on the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross, forcing the ICRC to suspend its operations in eastern Libya.” (Reuters & ICRC)
- “On Aug. 11, General Mohammed Hadia, a senior military official in the new Libyan government, was gunned down in the city.” (NAU)
- “On Sept. 2, a Libyan intelligence officer was killed and another wounded in a car-bombing attack in Benghazi.” (Reuters)
- “Three days before last week’s attack that took four American lives, Benghazi security official Jamal Mabrouk warned U.S. diplomats that the situation there was not safe.” (CNN)
These are all data points leading up to the events of this past week in Libya, and certainly not all of them. Intelligence analysts and officials had surely amassed mountains more.
In neighboring Egypt, birthplace of the ‘Blind Sheikh’ of aforementioned “Brigades of the Imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman” fame, similar recent calls for violence on his behalf were the calling card to the storming of the American embassy in Cairo as well. The ‘dots,’ again courtesy of the Washington Times.
- “There had been a sit-in in support of the “Blind Sheikh” outside the embassy for 18 months.”
- “On July 27, the sheikh’s son Abdallah Abdel Rahman threatened to organize a blockade of the embassy and to detain the Americans inside unless his father was released.”
- “Two days later, then-president-elect Mohammed Morsi vowed publicly to work to free the sheikh, and it will be at the top of his agenda in future meetings with President Obama.” (WSJ)
- “On Aug. 30, Jamaa Islamiya, the terrorist group formerly led by the Blind Sheikh, announced that the embassy sit-in was being turned into an active protest.” (USA Today via Gateway Pundit)
- “On Sept. 4, the Egyptian General Intelligence Service warned all Egyptian security agencies of planned attacks against the embassy by a group called Global Jihad, which has been active in the Sinai.” (Jerusalem Post)
- “On Sept. 7, an Islamist named Nasser Al-Qaeda posted a statement on the Jihadi chat group Shumoukh Al-Islam that the U.S. embassy in Cairo should be burned down and everyone inside killed or taken hostage in order to bring pressure to bear to release the Blind Sheikh.” (MEMRI)
- “On the day before the embassy assault, several other jihadist groups with ties to al Qaeda – including Islamic Jihad, the Sunni Group and Jamaa Islamiya – echoed this threat and called for the release of the Blind Sheikh and all detainees in all U.S. detention facilities including Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.” (PJ Media)
Not a peep about any offensive film. Yet, that is all we have heard about.
It is nearly impossible to overstate the significance of the fact that the newly-elected president of Egypt has called for the American release of the terrorist convicted of the original 1993 World Trade Center bombing. To dismiss it – and the September 10 fury among Egyptian terrorist groups angry with Morsi for not yet fulfilling his promise fast enough – is to fail to understanding the rising tide of tensions and brimming violence in the entire Middle East. But ‘dismiss’ is precisely what the Obama administration has done, on may levels, especially including the State Department and the National Security Council.
To be sure, the failure is not that the hundreds of analysts in various agencies failed to assemble a realistic portrait. Rather, as the Washington Times rightly points out, the intelligence failure rests at top-level officials that include President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and their immediate staffs of high-level advisers.
Disinterest is the chief culprit beneath the immediate surface of readily visible symptoms.
So disinterested in foreign policy and national security is President Obama that he chose from the outset a bumbling fool like then-Senator Joe Biden as his running mate primarily for his “foreign policy” pedigree, such that it was. Today, Vice President Biden himself jokes about the banality of it all.
So disinterested in foreign policy and national security is President Obama that he refused to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu last week regarding Iran tensions that are reaching critical mass. While the White House claimed no meeting request had been made, the Israeli head of state does not fly to Washington to meet with the president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies or the Senate Majority Leader. There apparently were campaign stops and fundraisers far too interesting and critical to interrupt for Israel.
So disinterested in foreign policy and national security is President Obama that the buzz around Washington has been about how he dislikes and dismisses the NatSec daily briefings prepared for the Commander In Chief.
Disinterest at the top is the root cause of the administration’s unconnected dots and the resultant, inexcusable intelligence failure. Disinterest, plain and simple. Not stupidity or some grand conspiracy theory. And it’s not a lesser evil. Yes, there are other factors, such as Obama’s half-heartedly concealed hostility towards Israel. But it’s not the chief cause of this intelligence failure – or rather, intelligence interest failure.
And so, we have before us the situation at hand in the middle east and little more than a robotic statement reading from the Secretary of State and a White House press secretary providing the primary ‘presidential’ response. With ambassadors and their security details murdered, embassies burning, historical state sponsors of terrorism refusing to allow US Marines in to protect an embassy under siege and far more to come, what confidence do Americans have in our steps ahead?
Americans should expect much more from a Commander In Chief. It’s not just part of the job, it’s the principal responsibility of the job.