In the aftermath of tragedies like the terror attack on Benghazi, the U.S. intelligence community does much armchair quarterbacking to learn what could have been done better. Former CIA Director Mike Hayden questions whether the real mistakes occurred before the attacks with lax security.
Former CIA Director Mike Hayden says the attack on Benghazi was "predictable" and he can't comprehend why the Obama administration did not have a better security posture at the time terrorists struck the U.S. consulate and killed Ambassador Chris Stevens.
“I don’t know the specifics of the attack, but the question I asked is what was the plan? What did you have on the shelf? Because this could not have been so unexpected given the deteriorating security situation in Benghazi," Hayden said during an interview this week on the sidelines of a national security conference in San Diego. "What was the concept for defending people? It’s kind of alone, small and isolated in (Benghazi).”
Asked whether U.S. officials should have been more concerned about an attack leading up to September, Hayden answered. "It was predictable." Asked why more security wasn't present, he added: “I can’t explain that.”
“I’m more concerned about the thinking that went on before the attack began, and tend to be less critical of what happened in the seven hours after the attack,” he said.
CIA and Pentagon officials Friday night declined comment on Hayden's remarks. The administration has offered shifting stories about what it knew about the attacks and security concerns leading up to it, but insist officials had no specific intelligence pointing toward an attack on the consulate on Sept. 11, 2012.
Hayden, a retired Air Force general, is one of the intelligence community's most respected voices, even in retirement. Under President George W. Bush, he ran the National Security Agency in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and was credited with developing the sweeping electronic monitoring strategies to target and thwart terrorists that became known as the "NSA program." He then became director of the CIA in Bush's second term, serving into the early months of the Obama administration.
He is the latest in a series of prominent former officials to question the Obama administration's security posture in the days leading up to the first killing of a U.S. diplomat in 30 years
Citing recent news reports, Hayden also suggested that Libyans in the Benghazi area may have been involved in trafficking weapons to Syrian rebels seeking to fight Syrian President Basir Assad.
“I think the story is that this (moving arms) was going to go to the Sunnis that opposed Assad. And Assad is Russia’s friend,” Hayden said.
Kimberly Dvorak is a freelance writer based in San Diego specializing in national security issues. She recently covered the military court proceedings against Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Guantanamo Bay,