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Wednesday, October 10

Oh come now, DNI Clapper. How much tea-leaf reading did it take after the British shut their consulate in Benghazi?

Intel chief on criticisms about Benghazi: "Enough already"
By Suzanne Kelly
CNN
October 9, 2012

The top U.S. intelligence official said on Tuesday there was no obvious warning ahead of the deadly attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and rebuffed criticism of the intelligence community's initial assessment of the incident.

James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, said in raw and revealing remarks to a group of intelligence professionals and contractors in Orlando that there is a "message" the intelligence community has learned since the September 11 attack that is "applicable to the executive and legislative branches of government" as well as to members of the media.
[...]
Clapper said an increased security risk is the new normal overseas, and that people need to understand what intelligence can and cannot do.

"The challenge is always a tactical warning, the exact insights ahead of time that such an attack is going to take place and obviously we did not have that," Clapper said in answering questions after the speech.

"This gets into the mysteries versus secrets thing. If people don't behave, emit a behavior or talk or something else ahead of time to be detected, it's going to be very hard to predict an exact attack and come up with an exact attack," he said.
[...]
Let's dispense with the metaphysics of intelligence work, shall we?  The security situation in Benghazi was so bad for months prior to the attack on the U.S. consulate that the British government shut its consulate there after a brazen assassination attempt on their Libyan envoy. It was so bad that transnational oil companies were giving clear signs to the U.S. State Department that they were thinking of pulling out of Benghazi if the security situation didn't markedly improve.  Given how used those companies are to functioning in dangerous region, that's saying all that really needs to be said about how dangerous Benghazi was at the time of the attack on the Benghazi compound.

As for the "new normal" -- uh, what's the new normal if your consulate is bombed twice in the five months running up to an all-out attack? Telling American foreign service employees to play a round of Russian Roulette before they can collect their paycheck?


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