woody_zimmerman_118_2007In earlier columns I suggested that Mr. Obama might engineer a war scare close to the election if it looked like his re-election campaign was going badly. I thought it possible that he might use war to burnish his credentials as a strong commander-in-chief. In past elections this tactic has been called an “October Surprise.” Usually only a sitting president has the wherewithal to engineer such an event.

We might have seen something like an October Surprise last week, on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. In Cairo, Egypt, a mob attacked our embassy, surmounted the compound wall, tore down the American flag, and raised the black Al Qaeda flag in its place. No injuries were reported from the fracas, and no actions were taken by American security forces to repel the rioters.

In Libya, things turned more violent when Islamic terrorists attacked our embassy in Benghazi. Our ambassador, Chris Stevens, was murdered, along with three other embassy staff. Reports now trickling in indicate that this was a planned, coordinated attack – not simply a mob-action as in Cairo.

Various reports suggest that our intelligence services anticipated the attacks, yet little was done to prepare for them. Virtually no military protection was in place at either embassy. In Libya there seems to have been a reliance on Libyan security forces. These helped move Ambassador Stevens and others to a supposedly “safe” house, where assassins later located them. Evidence now indicates that some members of the Libyan security detail may have given the assassins the ambassador’s location.

When the mob stormed our Cairo embassy, the working story presented by embassy personnel was that the riot was not directed toward the USA or the Obama administration, but was a “spontaneous” protest by Egyptian Muslims over an amateurish video clip posted on YouTube in July by a Californian named Sam Bacile. The video, titled “The Innocence of Muslims,” supposedly insults the Prophet Muhammed. This caused the Arab Street to erupt in rage that couldn’t be controlled – perhaps not even by Allah.

(I have watched the 14-minute trailer to the 2-hour movie. No doubt you have to be a Muslim to see the “insult.” You can believe me, it is the silliest, most poorly acted piece of drivel you are likely to see – somewhere between Abbot and Costello Meet Muhammed and Mr. Ed and the Talking Donkey. But judge for yourself: http://www.opposingviews.com/i/politics/2012-election/video-watch-film-innocence-muslims-led-violence-deaths-egypt-and-libya )

In response to the Cairo riots, our ambassador to Egypt released a statement deploring the video and disavowing any responsibility for it by the U. S. government. That statement reads as follows:

The Embassy of the United States condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.

Despite later evidence showing that the riots and violent attack were planned and coordinated well ahead of time, the Obama administration has stubbornly stuck by its story that both the demonstrations and the violence grew out of spontaneous protests by offended Muslims against the bizarre film-clip. The murders of Ambassador Stevens and embassy staff in Libya were explained as a kind of violent “hijacking” of the spontaneous protests by extreme “militia” who had other political motives. (None of these was called a “terrorist.”) Administration spokespersons have stoutly insisted, however, that none of this action was directed toward the United States, in general, or the Obama administration’s policies, in particular.

Following the release of the Cairo embassy’s statement, Governor Romney made a statement:

“I'm outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It's disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”

Guardians of the Obama administrations in the Mainstream Media immediately pounced on Mr. Romney for a statement that they called ill-timed, presumptuous, ahead of the facts, and a breach of protocol. The latter charge was based on the fact that Mr. Obama had not yet released his own statement in response to the Libya attack, which had resulted in the murder of Ambassador Stevens. The unwritten rule that “politics stops at the water’s edge” was also cited.

The journalistic attack on Mr. Romney was obviously coordinated, as revealed by a discussion caught on an open microphone. Reporters were overheard on an open mike discussing what they would ask Mr. Romney about his statement. All subsequent questions dealt with whether he “regretted” getting ahead of the story, whether he realized it was ill-timed, etc. It was all about “process,” “timing” and “protocol.” No one asked contextual questions to elicit Mr. Romney’s thoughts on the riots or the murders.

Reporters were clearly determined to divert attention away from the collapse of Mr. Obama’s Arab Spring appeasement policies, which were supposed to make the Muslim world love us. Not a word was breathed about this in the Mainstream Media. Nor was there any mention of the attacks occurring on the 9/11 anniversary – except in passing as a “coincidence.” Mr. Romney was obviously not taken seriously as a potential president. One pundit said he was “not ready for prime time.”

Reporters obsessed particularly on what they called Mr. Romney’s “presumptuousness” – as though no presidential candidate in living memory had ever questioned an action of a sitting president. (Was it my imagination, or wasn’t that Hillary Clinton shrieking in 2008 that she was an American(!!!) and she had a “right” to question policies of the current (Bush) administration without being called “unpatriotic”?)

Beyond the political “protectionism” furnished by Mr. Obama’s media guardians, the unanswered question is this: Were the recent uprisings truly a surprise, or were they “allowed” to happen in order to furnish a political photo-op moment for Mr. Obama? In plainer words, were those embassies deliberately left with little in the way of security forces to precipitate an incident that Mr. Obama could react to, wearing either his field marshal’s uniform or his peacemaker’s toga.

Even if there was some anticipation of the embassy assaults, I decline to believe that Ambassador Stevens was deliberately sacrificed just to score political points. (I’m pretty cynical, but maybe not quite that far gone.) What I could believe is that the Obama insiders knew the embassy assaults were coming, and allowed them to occur – i.e., Rahm Emanuel’s maxim of never letting a good crisis go to waste – without knowing about the violence secretly planned for Libya. It is axiomatic in such matters that you can never be sure what will happen with a mob. (That goes double when people are armed.) I doubt if the Libyan violence was expected. If it was, it would be an unimaginable scandal that must come out eventually.

If the whole sordid business was part of a political “master plan,” then the opportunity (such as it was) was completely bungled. Mr. Obama did not come off looking like either a warrior or a peacemaker. Instead, he looked aloof and uninvolved – even stumbling over whether Egypt was our “ally” by saying he wouldn’t call them either an ally or an enemy. Administration poobahs went into emergency hand-jive mode to correct Mr. Obama’s gaffe and point out that Egypt is our ally, as declared in 1980s legislation.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that no administration “planning” was involved. If so, then the lack of action in response to advance intelligence must be marked down to serious incompetence. I heard a report that marine guards at one embassy were not allowed to carry live ammunition. I can scarcely believe that any real marine would obey that order, but you never know. Whatever the case might have been, it seems that no one anticipated an attack in either place on September 11th – of all days.

The September Surprise failed – if that’s what it was. But there’s still October. Stay tuned.