Now even Democrats demand that Barack Obama comes clean over al-Qaeda and Middle East attacks

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By Toby Harnden In Washington

PUBLISHED:14:39 EST, 28  September 2012| UPDATED:17:03 EST, 28 September 2012

Democrats, including Senator John Kerry, a  possible Secretary of State if Barack Obama wins a second term, have joined  Republicans in demanding answers as to why terrorists were able to murder the  U.S. ambassador to Libya.

The new Democratic demands as it emerged  that  no threat assessment was conducted before Chris Stevens, the  late U.S. Ambassador, and his team began ‘taking up residence’ at the  Benghazi compound.

A source told Fox news that the security  lapses were a ‘total failure’ and there was no proper security equipment  installed in the compound’s buildings apart from a small number of video  cameras.


The source said that on a scale of 1 to 10,  with 10 being the worst, the security lapses were a 10.


Kerry, the chairman, and all 18 other members  of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have written to the State Department  calling for information about violence in Libya and elsewhere across the Middle  East around the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The involvement of Democrats in raising  pointed questions about the Obama administration’s handling of the crisis, and  particularly the assassination of Ambassador Chris Stevens, could hand Mitt  Romney a fresh political opportunity.

After initially denying that terrorism was  involved – to much public scepticism from Republicans – the  Obama administration later changed its story, saying that operatives linked  to al-Qaeda were responsible for the attack that killed Stevens and three other  Americans in Benghazi.


The White House’s insistence that the attacks  were a spontaneous reaction to a crude anti-Islam film made in California, has  been widely ridiculed and debunked.

Foremost among the officials insisting the  attacks were not terrorism was Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United  Nations, who went on five Sunday talk  shows to deliver the now-discredited talking points.

On September 16th, Rice told NBC’s ‘Meet The  Press’: ‘First of all, there’s an FBI  investigation which is ongoing and we look to that investigation to give us the  definitive word as to what transpired.

But putting together the best information that  we have available to us today, our current assessment is what happened in  Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just  transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of the demonstrations against  our facility in Cairo, prompted by the video.’

Rice is a rival to Kerry for the position of  Secretary of State in succession to Hillary Clinton, who has said she will step  down in January.

With Rice’s reputation severely battered,  Kerry’s case for taking over at the State Department – a position that needs  Senate approval – has been bolstered.

White House press secretary Jay Carney told  reporters on September 14th: ‘These protests were in reaction to a video  that had spread to the region. We have no information to suggest it was a  pre-planned attack.’

As recently late as last week, Obama said:  ‘What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage  over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also  directly harm U.S. interests.’

It recently emerged, however, that  intelligence officials knew within 24 hours that al-Qaeda was linked to the  attacks in Benghazi – prompting Republican accusations of lies and  cover-ups.

In the letter, the Senators posed a number of  questions, asking: ‘Please expand the accounting of the attacks against U.S.  missions in Egypt, Libya and Yemen beginning on September 11 2012, to include  attacks that took place at any U.S. missions from September 11-13  2012.


The letter, obtained by Foreign Policy  magazine’s The Cable blog, also referred to attacks on the U.S. embassies in  Sudan, Tunisia, and Pakistan and elsewhere.

Most pointedly, they ask ‘whether the U.S. or  the host governments had intelligence prior to the attacks on Egypt, Libya or  Yemen’ and whether any intelligence was shared with security  personnel.

Republicans have accused  the White  House of playing down the possibility of terrorism because in an election year  Obama wants voters to believe that al-Qaeda has been routed and is not resurgent  in any way.

ABC News has reported that intelligence  officials in Libya immediately suspected that the attack was not tied to the  movie.

They said the attackers knew where to get  Stevens after he fled to a safe house and used insurgent mortars to hit the  building, indicating a trained and experienced force.

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