letters | attack in libya draws scrutiny

Over the years, fatal intelligence failures in Mideast have crossed party lines

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have tried to make the case that the Obama administration failed to heed clear warnings by the CIA of a potential attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, or that the CIA did not recognize in advance the potential terrorist attack and therefore the administration was lax in supervising the intelligence agency. The historic record of intelligence in the Mideast has been mixed, at best.

In 1983 President Reagan sent Marines to Beirut, and, as a result of an unforeseen suicide attack, 299 servicemen were killed, most of them Marines. Reagan promptly withdrew the force.

The CIA apparently warned the Bush administration of the 9/11 attack, but the warnings were not heeded.


The CIA intelligence on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq became the main pretext for a disastrous war.

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There also have been many successes, not necessarily publicized, of intelligence in the Mideast. I think a fair conclusion is that, among the successes, there inevitably will be an occasional failure, and that the failure could occur regardless of whether the administration is Republican or Democratic.

Richard Strauss