Blaming others increases isolation

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The atmosphere in the White House these days must resemble that in the Fuhrerbunker, circa March 1945, because the price for constantly blaming others for your failures is increasing isolation.

To defend Slow Joe Biden from something indefensible he'd said in the vice presidential debate the night before, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney threw Secretary of State Hillary Clinton under the bus Friday.

"We weren't told they wanted more security" in Libya, Mr. Biden said.

Jaws dropped when he said it. Ambassador Chris Stevens' requests for more security are well documented. They'd warned of danger, the commander of a Special Forces site security team and the State Department's regional security officer told a House committee the day before the debate.

"The vice president was speaking about himself and the president, and the White House," Mr. Carney said Friday. "He was not referring to the administration."

In other words, Hillary Clinton alone bears responsibility for lax security.

This is implausible. The National Security Council staff would know about the security arrangements in Benghazi, and ought to have kept President Barack Obama and Mr. Biden up to speed.

"In a high-threat mission, where you've had evidence of Al Qaeda attacks against other missions ... that's something that the president, vice president, and certainly the secretary of state should be aware of all the time," said former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.

They were, Mr. Carney had told reporters two days after the attack. "We are very vigilant around anniversaries like 9/11," he said then. "The president is always briefed and brought up to speed on all the precautions being taken."

Now the story's changed.

There was no protest, only armed terrorists, two senior Foreign Service Officers told journalists last Tuesday. State knew right away the assault was a terrorist attack, because people in the Diplomatic Security Command Center in Washington, D.C., were watching it "in almost real time" on feeds from security cameras at the consulate and a drone flying overhead.

But for more than a week, Ms. Clinton and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice said the attack was a "spontaneous" response to a YouTube video mocking the Prophet Muhammad.

We never believed that, the FSOs said, hanging their political masters out to dry.

"I think we are seeing a split between the State career bureaucracy and the White House, a real blue moon event under a Democratic president," Mr. Bolton said.

We got bum scoop from the intelligence community, the White House said after State refused to take the blame.

The office of James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, dutifully issued a statement saying the intel community concluded -- "in the immediate aftermath" of the attack -- that it had begun "spontaneously" in the wake of the violent protests in Egypt.

If that ever were true, the assessment was corrected within a day or two. Before the attack, there were many reports of an "alarming" surge of Al Qaeda activity in Libya, career intel officers told investigative reporter Bill Gertz.

"U.S. intelligence agencies monitored communications from jihadists affiliated with the group that led the attack and members of Al Qaeda," said Eli Lake of Newsweek.

But when he spoke at the U.N. Sept. 25, Mr. Obama was still blaming the video for the attack.

It appears not to have occurred to the White House that their designated scapegoats might balk. Even more than the FSOs, the intel officers know what really happened, and have damaging information they could leak.

Mrs. Clinton might not be willing to go quietly under the wheels of the bus either.

If the White House plans to dump blame on his wife, Bill Clinton won't sit idly by, said author Edward Klein, who appears to have good sources in the Clinton camp.

"I'm told that Bill is playing with various doomsday scenarios, up to and including the idea that Hillary should consider resigning," Mr. Klein said.

Bill Clinton is the master politician of our time. I would not want to make him mad. The CIA has half a century of experience in destabilizing governments. I would not want to make professional intelligence officers mad.

To make them both mad at the same time is a recipe for political suicide.

jackkelly

Jack Kelly: jkelly@post- gazette.com or 412-263-1476. This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/


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