Truth often hidden in counterespionage

A recent letter complained about the falsehood supposedly given to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice by the CIA regarding the attack on our embassy in Benghazi. While skepticism should never be resisted, a presumption of incompetence or political cover-up by our top leaders may be premature.

For example, while the CIA knew within minutes that this was not just a street demonstration, it may not have been able to exactly identify the perpetrators. Given that attacks of this sort are really publicity stunts, it is important for the perpetrators to get credit. If they are led to believe their bravado is not being recognized, they are likely to persist in claiming responsibility, which gives us additional opportunities to track them down.

The Osama bin Laden raid and drone strikes demonstrate that we can be very good at this. So, it may well be that the CIA, Rice, even Sen. John McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham are knowing participants in a deliberate ruse. In any case, we will doubtlessly never know whether it was, or if successful, because it is a process that will never be publicly acknowledged. Such is the world of counterespionage.

Andrew R. Graham