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Wednesday, Oct 01, 2014
Steve Otto Columns

Otto: From Florida to Benghazi, buck needs to stop somewhere

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The trick these days seems to be finding someone in charge.

I don’t mean around here; Mayor Bob has things under control.

And up in Tallahassee the Legislature — looney as it is — definitely is in charge and mercifully is about to go home.

For more than a month finding anyone who would release all the information on the missing Malaysian jet proved next to impossible.

Anybody here know what our policy is in Syria, where the numbers of dead are in the tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands? Can someone explain what we still are doing in Afghanistan other than the logistics of loading up and coming home?

Does anyone understand our immigration policy or what we are trying to do?

Nobody does; or at least nobody is willing to do so. But there are plenty of paid public information people and certainly more than enough politicians willing to point fingers at others.

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Now there is another hearing going on about what happened at Benghazi. More than two years later and we still are as muddled as ever.

This time it was before something called the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

There’s a name for you. They could meet for decades and barely scratch the surface on all of that. Instead of a committee on reform they need a committee on kicking government in the rear to get it jump-started.

The other day retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert Lovell was the man in the spotlight. During the Sept. 11, 2012, attack he was at the U.S. Africa Command headquarters in Germany, which would appear to be an odd place to have an Africa Command headquarters but then it seems like everything else comes out of MacDill just down the street from us.

Questioned about what they knew about the attack, Lovell said, “As the attack was ongoing it was unclear whether it was an attempted kidnapping, rescue, recovery, protracted hostile engagement or any or all of the above.’’

Nothing new there. That’s been pretty much the theme coming out of seemingly endless hearings and forums on the subject. Much of it, as usual, has been reduced to political finger-pointing and babble by those trying to escape any hint of blame.

But at least Lovell said no one knew how long the attack would last and there was no way of determining that there was no use in trying.

“We should have tried,’’ he said.

To me and I suspect to most of us, that is the bottom line. We should have tried.

He went on to say: “What I’m speaking to is that we as a nation need to try to do more ... so that in the future we can support the people and have their backs.’’

Isn’t that it?

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People are going to make bad decisions. All you have to do is look at our space program. Not only are there no shuttles for astronauts, it turns out the engines used in some of our rockets are supplied by the Russians out of Ukraine.

Oh yes, we know how to make mistakes.

But it is more important that we always “have their backs’’ when we put Americans in harm’s way.

Whether we could have performed a rescue or not, we should have had a backup plan in place and, at the very least, we should have tried.

sotto@tampatrib.com

(813 259-7809

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