Day by day, more and more details of the Sept. 11 attack on our consulate in Benghazi emerge. As more details are revealed, more questions arise. Consider these details, both individually, and taken together:
• On Sept. 10, the day before the attack, the original mastermind of al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden’s No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, called on Libyans to attack Americans. The attack was meant as revenge for the death of al-Zawahiri’s chief deputy, Abu Yahya al-Libi, in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan in June. This wasn’t any unheard-of terrorist who could have been making a boastful claim. This was Ayman al-Zawahiri himself. The AP reported the threat, and the attack took place the next day.
• The U.S. consulate in Benghazi had previously been attacked, though unsuccessfully, which clearly should have put us on notice that it was a target.
• Indeed, the British and the Red Cross got the message after earlier attacks, and withdrew their people to safety.
• The consulate had requested additional security from our government, but they never got it.
• Recently leaked email messages confirm that two hours after the attack, a radical Islamist group, Ansar al-Sharia, claimed responsibility for the attack. Although the group later denied it, our intelligence personnel intercepted phone calls confirming that it was bragging about the attack to another radical group, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.
Put aside for the moment the attempts to claim that this was something other than a terrorist attack, the claims about the attack being spontaneous, and the reason for the attack having to do with some anti-Islamic video.
The central question remains: After so many warnings, why did we fail to protect the lives of our ambassador and the other Americans at our consulate? Just as President Obama emphasized during the debates, the most important job for any president is to protect the lives of Americans.
This is the question that every American should be asking. That, and should we entrust the safety of Americans serving us abroad to the same administration for another four years?
Walter E. Hussman Jr. is the chief executive officer of WEHCO Media Inc. and publisher of the Chattanooga Times Free Press.