Opinion: Editorials

Examiner Editorial: On Libya, Biden was full of 'malarkey'

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Opinion,Editorial

Vice President Biden didn't just double down on the administration's story of the attack in Benghazi, Libya. He emptied the bank account and put the deed to the house on the table.

Asked why the administration initially claimed for more than a week that the incident grew out of a street protest over a YouTube video, Biden said that's what they knew at the time.

"That's exactly what we were told ... by the intelligence community. The intelligence community told us that. As they learned more facts about exactly what happened, they changed their assessment," he told moderator Martha Raddatz.

For good measure, he added: "We weren't told they wanted more security there. We did not know they wanted more security again."

Well, Joe, we're told the Arabic word for "malarkey" is "kalam fadi."

Biden's comments were so divorced from reality that White House spokesman Jay Carney was forced to argue on Friday morning that the vice president "obviously ... wasn't talking about the administration at large" but just himself and the president.

What made it impossible for Carney to back Biden up was Wednesday's congressional testimony by Eric Nordstrom, the top regional security officer in Libya at the time. He said diplomats in Benghazi repeatedly requested more security and tried in vain to keep what security they had.

"All of us at post were in sync that we wanted these resources," Nordstrom told Congress. "In those conversations, I recall I was specifically told, 'You cannot request [a security support team] extension.' I determined I was told that because there would be too much political cost. We went ahead and requested it anyway." ("Political cost" refers to the official policy of limiting the U.S. profile and entrusting Libyans with their own security -- referred to as "normalization.")

Col. Andrew Wood, the National Guardsman who led a security team in Libya until August, corroborated that in his testimony: "We felt great frustration that those requests were ignored or just never met."

The security office in fact wrote a July memo listing 230 recent violent incidents, concluding that the risk of "militia or political violence is HIGH." (They used all caps in the memo.)

The testimony of Nordstrom and Wood followed revelations that there was no street protest in Benghazi before the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, and that U.S. intelligence services had proof within 24 hours of the attack that al Qaeda affiliates were involved. Yet the administration maintained for eight days that the YouTube video had started it all, and kept referring to the offending video as somehow related even after learning that the attack was carefully planned to coincide with the 11th anniversary of 9/11. President Obama mentioned the video six times in his address to the United Nations.

The motive for this deception is unclear, but had it succeeded and the Libya story petered out, it would have been politically convenient. As matters stand now, the Benghazi attack highlights the failure of Obama's efforts to charm the Muslim world and presents the specter of a resurgent al Qaeda, reinvigorated since the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Obama campaign spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter indicated a lack of seriousness about Libya when she complained Thursday, "The entire reason this has become the political topic it is, is because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. It's a big part of their stump speech," she said.

In fact, the reasons behind the deaths of four Americans -- including the first U.S. ambassador killed in 33 years -- seem to be an entirely appropriate subject for political debate, especially when a president seems so intent on misleading everyone about it.

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