Families deserve answers
While Secretary of State Hillary Clinton boozed it up in Australia and the Pentagon grapples with more floozy eruptions, outraged military families are still waiting for answers about the forgotten Sept. 14 attack on Camp Bastion.
Muckrakers and distraction engineers are having a front-page field day with the so-called “sex scandal.” But for surviving relatives and colleagues of heroic Marine Lt. Col. Christopher Raible and Sgt. Bradley Atwell, it's the national security scandal at Afghanistan's Camp Bastion that deserves headline coverage.
There's been a virtual blackout of the alarming story in the national press. The meticulously coordinated siege by 15 Taliban infiltrators — dressed in American combat fatigues and armed with assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons — resulted not only in two deaths, but also in the most devastating loss of U.S. airpower since Vietnam. Six Harrier jets were destroyed; three refueling stations were wiped out; six hangars were damaged.
The attack came six months after a failed suicide attack targeting Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and three days after the deadly attack on our consulate in Benghazi.
Yet, on Tuesday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announced that President Obama is standing by beleaguered Marine Gen. John Allen. He's the four-star general and lead U.S. commander in Afghanistan who is now entangled in former CIA Director David Petraeus' sexcapades soap opera. Allen reportedly exchanged hundreds of “flirtatious” emails with Petraeus family friend and married Florida socialite Jill Kelley.
While Petraeus stepped down, Obama “has faith in Gen. Allen, believes he's doing and has done an excellent job” overseeing security in Afghanistan, Carney said.
Are families of our Marines at Camp Bastion happy with Allen and the Obama administration? Donella Raible, widow of Lt. Col. Raible, was blunt. “I'm not,” she told me Tuesday afternoon by phone. “I'm mortified. It shows the corruption in the whole Washington/Arlington culture.” Mrs. Raible, who is now raising three children (ages 11, 9 and 2) on her own, said, “I couldn't sleep at night if I were (Obama). If they're happy with things in Afghanistan, they should come look at the faces of those left behind.”
If not for the heroism of Lt. Col. Raible, Sgt. Atwell and their brothers-in-arms, the entire Harrier squadron and a barracks full of sleeping Marines could have been lost. Another Camp Bastion Marine wife and mother of two told me: “My husband survived, and I am so grateful, but I am also heartbroken for those who died. ... I blame this administration for these recent preventable losses of life.”
Deborah Hatheway, aunt of Sgt. Atwell, said the family received a standard-issue condolence letter from the White House last week. “That means nothing. This was not supposed to happen,” Hatheway told me. She blasted the “negligence, irresponsibility, incompetence and plain ignorance” that led to her nephew's murder.
“And after the incident with Panetta, the security should have been so tight there that even a suicide mouse couldn't get through,” Hatheway told me. “How could they let this happen?”
Obama's military leaders were asleep on the job — or sleeping with others instead of doing their jobs. Who will answer for this deadly disgrace?
Michelle Malkin is the author of “Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies” (Regnery 2009).
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