Yesterday, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld tweeted that Mitt Romney was right to say the tragic attacks on U.S. embassies in Benghazi on Tuesday were the result of perceived American weakness:
The attacks on our embassies & diplomats are a result of perceived American weakness. Mitt Romney is right to point that out.
— Donald Rumsfeld (@RumsfeldOffice) September 12, 2012
Which is an excellent point. If Bush and Rumsfeld were in charge, the world would know who was boss, and these attacks never would have happened. Just look at their record!! No one dared to attack a U.S. diplomatic facility when they were running the show. Right? That’s right, isn’t it? We assume the number of embassy attacks under Bush must be zero, right? Or at least, fewer than under Obama? Or at least not the most in American history, right? Let’s Google it just to be sure, though…
Yeah, no. Actually, there were twelve terrorist attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities abroad during George W. Bush’s tenure — the most of any U.S. president in history — and eight of those attacks occurred under Donald Rumsfeld’s watch.
The embassy breaches on Tuesday marked the second attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities during President Obama’s tenure, including one in April 2010 in Pakistan which was in retaliation for drone attacks there (if one counts the attacks in Libya, Egypt, and Yemen separately even though they occurred at roughly the same time and arose from the same incident, the total during his presidency is four). Even after Osama bin Laden’s death, America’s diplomatic facilities did not come under fire.
The total number of deaths from attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities was 60 during the Bush administration and 13 under President Obama. The greatest number of deaths occurred during Clinton’s presidency, though all 223 of these deaths occurred on a single day in 1998, the result of in coordinated al Qaeda attacks on the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.
Ah, but perhaps Benghazi marks the first time a U.S. diplomat was killed at one of our facilities? Maybe that’s why Rumsfeld has been so quick to point fingers?Also, no. In 2006, a suicide bomber targeted and killed U.S. diplomat David Foy outside the U.S. Consulate in Karachi. The attack marked the third terrorist incident at that particular Consulate in under four years.
But diplomat, schmiplomat. Isn’t this the first time a U.S. ambassador has been assassinated abroad? Still no. Militants have killed U.S. ambassadors on five previous occasions, including two at U.S. diplomatic facilities.
But surely this must mark the first time terrorists have actually breached a U.S. diplomatic facility, right? Again, no. In 2004, for instance, militant Islamists successfully breached the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, taking 28 people hostage and ultimately killing five consulate staff and four security guards.