Dear Editor:

It appears that Ms. Herman is guilty of the same sin that she accuses Gov. Romney of committing — launching a premature and false attack. 

The embassy’s statement that it, “condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions … Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy,” was essentially an apology for the film they assumed might provoke demonstrations and riots.

Gov. Romney’s comment that the embassy’s statement had its priorities wrong, and later that the embassy’s statement was “disgraceful” and was “akin to an apology and … a severe miscalculation,” was accurate and correct. The administration was apparently sufficiently embarrassed by the statement that it removed it from the embassy website.

As a result, the MSM front page for the next several days was focused on attacking Gov. Romney’s statement rather than reporting what occurred in Cairo and Benghazi or how the White House was responding. Except for Fox News everyone seemed to accept the administration’s statements about the cause of the demonstrations and violence.

On 16 Sept., five days after the attack on the consulate, UN Ambassador Susan Rice hit five Sunday news/commentary shows relentlessly asserting that the events in Benghazi were spontaneous demonstrations that spiraled out of control and were caused by the anti-Islam video on the Internet “ … it was a spontaneous — not a premeditated — response to what had transpired in Cairo,” Rice said on This Week. “In Cairo, as you know, a few hours earlier, there was a violent protest that was undertaken in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated,” Rice said, referring to protests in Egypt Tuesday over a film that depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud.

 This was at the same time Fox News was continuing to develop the story that there was no demonstration in Benghazi, that it was a pre-planned, coordinated, attack to coincide with the anniversary of 9/11. Finally, over a week after the events, the administration began shifting its explanations for the attack. NCC Director Matt Olsen testified before the Senate on 19th that it was a, “terrorist attack” and presidential spokesman Jay Carney said for the first time on the 20th that it was, “self evident” that the attack was an act of terrorism

However, as late as the 21st, in the face of this almost overwhelming evidence of a pre-planned, coordinated terrorist attack, President Obama still had difficulty abandoning the narrative he is so fond of — “there is an offensive video or cartoon directed at the Prophet Muhammad” and, “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.”

In light of what we know today the two questions I have are: Is the Obama Administration clueless, or did they deliberately mislead us for over a week in an effort to downplay terrorist activity? And, is our intelligence operation in North Africa incompetent, or did this administration just lie to us for over a week about the attack on the consulate in Benghazi? This appears to me to be more misdirected diplomacy than measured diplomacy.

Jim Huffman

This story was posted on September 26, 2012.