By Dennis Lamb
Last Sunday, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham threatened to block a vote on Chuck Hagel’s confirmation for defense secretary and President Barack Obama’s nomination of John Brennan as director of the Central Intelligence Agency unless the White House provides more information about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
With all due respect to Graham, I am tired of hearing him insist on more information about Benghazi. Those who died there knew they were in danger when they went to Libya, but they went because they wanted to serve their country. All members of the Department of State, the CIA and Department of Defense are in danger abroad — and in the United States. None of them ask for or expect special treatment or protection. They know that risking their lives comes with the job, that if a terrorist or group of terrorists wants to kill them, it can be done.
Ambassador Christopher Stevens knew the risks he was taking in going to Benghazi, but he had a job to do and he knew he could not function effectively surrounded by U.S. Marines and security personnel.
My third tour of duty as a CIA case officer was in a country where the population was hostile toward the U.S. government. Just before I arrived in country and just after I left, terrorists fired missiles from a hotel window at the American Embassy.
Three months before my tour of duty was to end, a local reporter published an expose of CIA station personnel. I was the only one whose photo, home address and telephone number were included, which made me a prime target for terrorists.
In publishing my photo and address in such an environment, it appeared that the reporter was trying to kill me by proxy. I got my wife and two small children out of the house that same day and moved into a hotel. I finished my tour of duty but had my wife and children stand far away whenever I started my car. I never asked for or expected protection.
Had I been assassinated sometime while finishing my tour of duty, no one would have demanded an explanation from the president as to why I did not have adequate protection.
No one demanded an explanation from the president as to why Ambassador Adolph Dubs did not have adequate protection when he was killed in a kidnapping attempt in Afghanistan in 1979.
CIA officer Michael Spann became the first American killed during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 when Taliban prisoners rioted, overpowered and killed him while he was questioning them. No one demanded an explanation from President George W. Bush as to why Spann did not have adequate protection or nearby U.S. and allied forces could not have come to Spann’s aid.
And no one has demanded an explanation from the president as to why those CIA officers represented by 103 stars on the Memorial Wall at CIA headquarters did not have adequate protection when they were killed.
The Senate has a legitimate role in reviewing Cabinet nominations, but Graham is trying to politicize a tragedy that should not be politicized or discussed other than in closed session. Some things need to remain secret.
All Graham and his colleagues have done in constantly demanding explanations has been to surface publicly that CIA officers were in Benghazi at the time of Stevens’ death. They therewith exposed every American, including tourists, traveling to Benghazi to danger and made it nearly impossible for CIA operatives to carry out their mission in Libya.
(The thoughts outlined above represent my personal views and not the views of my former employer.)
Dennis Lamb, originally from Chelsea and now residing outside of Iowa, retired from the CIA in 2002 after serving 30 years in its Directorate of Operations as a case officer and as an intelligence analyst. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org