As more and more details come out about the cover-up of the terrorist attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including our ambassador, Chris Stevens, I am more and more struck by the parallels to 2004… and Spain.
To refresh, on March 11, 2004, coordinated terror attacks struck the Madrid train system and killed 191 Spaniards. Conservative Prime Minister José Maria Aznar was quick to blame the Basque separatist terrorist group ETA for the attack; El País, a left leaning Spanish newspaper, reported that Ana Palacio, then the Foreign Minister, cabled all the country’s foreign missions instructing them to: “use any opportunity to confirm ETA’s responsibility for these brutal attacks, thus helping to dissipate any type of doubt that certain interested parties may want to promote.”
Does this sound familiar? Feel familiar? Right. It’s an eerie parallel between the president’s refusal to label the attacks in Benghazi as the work of al Qaeda-linked terrorists. Palacio’s machinations sound a lot like Susan Rice’s hapless insistence that only an anti-Islamist film was to blame, not to speak of the White House’s doubling down on the film theory despite the fact that there were ample forewarnings of a planned attack against US targets in Benghazi. Rather than laying down a clear marker that the United States is going to fight back, Obama threw the entire incident to law enforcement, pulled all US personnel out of Benghazi (shades of Black Hawk Down)… And now more appalling news is filtering out about the Obama administration’s failure to secure the site in Benghazi, leaving classified and sensitive documents lying about.
Why did Aznar insist it was ETA? Simple. He didn’t want the Spanish people to believe that the terrorist attack in Madrid was related to Spain’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, fearing they would punish him at the polls. Ironically, however, it was not the bombings themselves that doomed Aznar and his party in elections held three days later; rather it was the handling, the appearance of a cover-up, and the widespread belief that all of the above was done in the aid of Aznar’s political fortunes rather than policy.
Now back to Benghazi. What happened? “The Obama administration sidestepped al Qaeda ties in the case of the Libyan attack to perpetuate the narrative that the president had decimated al Qaeda when Osama bin Laden was killed, and to preclude allegations that they were asleep at the switch on the anniversary of 9/11. Better to blame it all on a spontaneous protest to an anti-Islam video on YouTube.” Thank you, Maureen Dowd, I couldn’t have said it better myself.