William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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LET US NOT FORGET – AT 9:32 A.M. ET:  In more mature times, and with a more responsible press, the Libya affair would be growing into a major scandal, bringing into question the competence of the president, the secretary of state, and a number of other officials.

However, the mainstream media has been stonewalling the story, the better to protect The One in the weeks before election day.  Fox News is the only major outlet to pursue the facts.  Their reporters and editors, led by Catherine Herridge, should win a prize for their superb efforts, but will not, as the journalism establishment doesn't give prizes to Fox.  The Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia last year gave its most prestigious award to Al Jazeera, and probably felt very good about it.

But even David Ignatius of the Washington Post acknowledged yesterday that the questions raised by Fox deserve answers.  Fox now publishes the closest thing we've seen so far to a smoking gun in this story.  It is sickening: 

The U.S. Mission in Benghazi convened an “emergency meeting” less than a month before the assault that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, because Al Qaeda had training camps in Benghazi and the consulate could not defend against a “coordinated attack,” according to a classified cable reviewed by Fox News.

Summarizing an Aug. 15 emergency meeting convened by the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, the Aug. 16 cable marked “SECRET” said that the State Department’s senior security officer, also known as the RSO, did not believe the consulate could be protected.

“RSO (Regional Security Officer) expressed concerns with the ability to defend Post in the event of a coordinated attack due to limited manpower, security measures, weapons capabilities, host nation support, and the overall size of the compound,” the cable said.

According to a review of the cable addressed to the Office of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Emergency Action Committee was also briefed "on the location of approximately ten Islamist militias and AQ training camps within Benghazi … these groups ran the spectrum from Islamist militias, such as the QRF Brigade and Ansar al-Sharia, to ‘Takfirist thugs.’” Each U.S. mission has a so-called Emergency Action Committee that is responsible for security measures and emergency planning.

The details in the cable seemed to foreshadow the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. compound, which was a coordinated, commando-style assault using direct and indirect fire. Al Qaeda in North Africa and Ansar al-Sharia, both mentioned in the cable, have since been implicated in the consulate attack.

In addition to describing the security situation in Benghazi as “trending negatively,” the cable said explicitly that the mission would ask for more help. “In light of the uncertain security environment, US Mission Benghazi will submit specific requests to US Embassy Tripoli for additional physical security upgrades and staffing needs by separate cover.”

And...

While the administration’s public statements have suggested that the attack came without warning, the Aug. 16 cable seems to undercut those claims. It was a direct warning to the State Department that the Benghazi consulate was vulnerable to attack, that it could not be defended and that the presence of anti-U.S. militias and Al Qaeda was well-known to the U.S. intelligence community.

In a three-page cable on Sept 11, the day Stevens and the three other Americans were killed, Stevens wrote about “growing problems with security” in Benghazi and “growing frustration” with the security forces and Libyan police. The ambassador saw both as “too weak to keep the country secure.”

COMMENT:  That says it all.  With the exception of organizations like Fox, the institution of journalism is failing us.  When major institutions in a society start to fail, the society starts to fail.

November 1, 2012