Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s new book, Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace, was released yesterday, and what it reveals has the media gaping—Democrats scrambling for a distraction.

Panetta’s memoir focuses on several aspects of Obama’s foreign policy, but the section that’s causing the most chatter highlights the complete lack of leadership shown after the attack on our embassy in Benghazi:

On the deadly 2012 siege of the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, Panetta said the administration had no indication of an attack coinciding with the Sept. 11 anniversary. U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the violence.

Panetta, who also served as director of the CIA, said he questioned “from the beginning” the CIA’s initial assessment that the attack was the work of a mob of protesters rather than an organized assault. “It seemed to me that most spontaneous demonstrators don’t arrive for a protest carrying rocket-propelled grenade launchers,” he said.

But Panetta defended the intelligence agency, saying such work is difficult and often contradictory. “It was not clear at the time that there were two separate incidents, separated by distance and by several hours,” he said.

“I didn’t have any specific information, but the fact was, when you bring grenade launchers to a demonstration, there’s something else going and. And I just—from the very beginning sensed that this was an attack…that this was a terrorist attack on our compound.”

Secretary Panetta also spoke out against Obama’s handling of our military presence in the Middle East, and highlighted mistakes the President made with regards to the Syrian Civil War. Via NBC News:

He says that and a lack of concern for the civil war in Syria — and the president not acting decisively when it was proven that Assad used chemical weapons — helped created fertile ground for ISIS to grow strong.

“I think when we stepped out of Iraq, in many ways, we created this vacuum in which not a lot of attention was paid to what was happening in Iraq or what was happening in Syria with the extremists who were developing a base of operations there,” said Panetta. “That combination, plus obviously not getting all of the intelligence that we should’ve had on it, I think is what produced the ISIS that we’re confronting today.”

The fact of the matter is that memoirs like Panetta’s always come with the same sort of bombastic “I told you so” fanfare.

Hey Leon, why didn’t you speak up when we needed you most?

But at this point in the game, optics are crucial not only for the Obama Administration, but for the Democratic Party’s rising stars.

If Republicans are able to maintain the momentum given them by ongoing revelations from people like Panetta, and capitalize on the picture of incompetence that’s being painted, they both set themselves up to win big in 2014, and prime the pump for 2016.

It’s a big “if,” but it’s a also solid one:

If the majority of the country agrees with Roger Simon, Democrats closely associated with the policies of this Administration don’t have a prayer.

So expect more attacks on Panetta from Obama supporters (via Weekly Standard):


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