The Obama White House released a statement Tuesday evening -- the eve of the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks -- assuring the public that President Obama's national security team "is taking measures to prevent 9/11-related attacks and to ensure the protection of U.S. persons and facilities abroad." What makes the statement different from a routine press release is that it acknowledges last year's 9/11 anniversary attack on the U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya, and at least tacitly concedes the violence was a surprise.
"The events of last year, losing four brave Americans -- Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods -- brought home the reality of the challenges we face in the world," the statement says. "As we near this day of remembrance, we continue to mourn the death of our cherished colleagues and honor their dedication to public service."
According to the statement, President Obama met with his national security team on Tuesday, the last of several sessions held by top White House counterterrorism official Lisa Monaco "to review security measures in place for the anniversary."
Last Sept.10, just hours before the Benghazi attack, the White House released a nearly identical statement, statement saying that top officials had done a complete review of security "to prevent 9/11-related attacks…[and] to protect U.S. persons and facilities abroad." The statement said then-top counterterrorism official John Brennan had held several meetings to plan 9/11 anniversary security and added that Obama had stressed that government agencies "must do everything possible to protect the American people, both at home and abroad."
It didn't work. After the Benghazi incident, reviews found U.S. officials were tragically unprepared for a terrorist attack timed to coincide with the 9/11 anniversary. American diplomats in Libya had warned the administration on multiple occasions about the deteriorating security situation there, only to have their concerns ignored. When the anniversary came, the U.S. contingent was overwhelmed by terrorist attackers.
Are American officials any more prepared for this year's anniversary than they were for the last? The administration says so, but then again, they said that last year, too. Finally, despite vows to bring the Benghazi attackers to justice, those killers are still unpunished on the one-year anniversary of the attack. "We remain committed to bringing the perpetrators of the Benghazi attacks to justice," says the new White House statement, "and to ensuring the safety of our brave personnel serving overseas."