by Greg McDonald
Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton Tuesday called the attack on the American consulate in Libya last week "a massive failure" of U.S. security and policy toward the Middle East.
Speaking on Fox News' "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren," Bolton said there are simply no excuses for not having tighter security in place in Benghazi around U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and at embassies throughout the region, especially on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
"We were obviously caught by surprise both in Libya and in Egypt. Different situations but caught by surprise in both cases, which means only one of two things," Bolton said. "Either there's a massive intelligence failure not to see this coming, or the administration believed that things were so benign, that the environment was so calm, that they didn't have to worry about it.
"Wrong in both cases," he continued. "Nobody can say that we had adequate security in Libya. We've got four dead Americans. What else do you need to see?"
Bolton said it's hard to understand how Stevens could have been allowed to even remain in the "threatened environment" of Benghazi on the anniversary of 9/11 because "it was and has been a source of recruiting for al-Qaida for some time."
"One could argue that on September the 11th, he doesn't go to a dangerous place at all. But the proof is in the sad outcome, the tragedy that there are four people dead," he said. "It doesn't matter really what the excuse is beforehand, there was a massive failure here."
Bolton, now a contributor to Fox News, said he also found it "extraordinarily disturbing" that the administration has called in the FBI to investigate the death of Stevens and his colleagues as "a criminal matter," rather than the "continuing war" on terrorism. He said it appears to be an effort to cover up the administration's own policy shortcomings in the region.
"I think this is the White House story unraveling right in front of itself," he said. "And what they're trying to do is hide behind the fact of an FBI investigation that's pending in Libya, which I find ridiculous."
He said the problem was the Obama administration let its guard down in the Middle East by believing the threat of al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations had been weakened in the region.
"If your notion is the war on terrorism is over and we've won, what's the threat, really? What could go wrong?," Bolton said. "Well, I guess they didn't get the memo out in the street there because these demonstrations, I think, have proven that the radicalism, the hatred of America that comes from these radical extremists and political, religious beliefs, is still there."
Bolton said he believes U.S. embassies, and private Americans working and living in the Middle East, must continue to be on heightened alert because the protesters have shown that if they can't "get the hard target" like an embassy, they will go after "soft targets," such as schools and even businesses with ties to America.
"I don't think anybody can predict the course of these demonstrations or terrorist attacks. But I tell you, the message to al-Qaida and other terrorists is they've killed an American ambassador, and I think our people are vulnerable all over the region," he said.
Bolton also commented on Russian President Vladimir Putin's order Tuesday that the United States end its support of all pro-democracy organizations and programs in Russia.
"Vladimir Putin has a plan for Russia that doesn't include democracy," Bolton said. "And it's not, in my view, that different from some leaders in the Middle East who believe in the theory of one person, one vote, one time.
"Remember, Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan of Turkey, who said some years ago, 'Democracy is like a streetcar. You ride it to the stop you want and then you get off.' Think about that for a while," Bolton added.
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