In September of last year, Islamic militants attacked the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Violence from Islamists is common and the attack, in hindsight, was highly likely. The tragedy is over, but it persists because of the number of questions surrounding it. Why did the embassy lack security? What was the government’s immediate response? All of these questions still produce controversy. Perhaps, the best explanation ties to part of government’s fundamental nature: bureaucratic, inefficient, and bumbling.

First, we should begin with the facts. Benghazi, one of Libya’s largest cities, was vital to the Libyan rebels. The site of fierce combat, Benghazi became the rebels’ capital.

On the night of September 11, 2012, a large group of Islamists attacked the Benghazi consulate. Early the next morning, a CIA post slightly over a mile away was attacked as well. In the course of both these attacks, four Americans died—including Chris Stevens, the ambassador to Libya.

We also know other facts relating to the government’s response at the time. Leon Panetta responded by sending a group of fifty Marines, from their European base, to Benghazi. Before leaving Spain, the Marines “were told by the State Department to deplane, change out of their U.S. military uniforms and put on civilian clothes before flying to Tripoli — a decision that delayed them from launching by approximately 90 minutes…” The government committee that was assembled by Hillary Clinton thinks “‘every possible effort was made to rescue and recover’” the Americans in danger. The Defense Department continues to say that a military response could not have reached Benghazi in time and the changing uniforms “likely did not make a difference since all surviving State Department personnel left the consulate for the CIA Annex…” Fox News also reported that they were informed of military personnel in Southern Europe had a delayed response and did not allow some troops to leave. There are even more questions regarding the attacked CIA post. However, knowing the CIA, these questions might never be answered.

But the questions continue. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified about the Benghazi attack. At times, she did not react well to questioning. When asked about the attack’s causes, Clinton became agitated. (Global protests against an online, anti-Islamic video were purported as the attack’s cause.) Contrary to this, many maintained the attack was purely a terrorist attack.) On the attack’s cause, Clinton said, “What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator.”

The questions surrounding Benghazi must go beyond the simple scope of Islamists attacking an embassy. Central to this inquiry are two questions.

Why was there an embassy in Benghazi? In a country left chaotic and violent from a civil war, the State Department should know the risks of putting an embassy in a dangerous place. Of many Libyan cities, Benghazi suffered particularly horrendous damage and witnessed brutal fighting. Supposing that the State Department possesses the knowledge we presume it to have, they should have been aware of the risks. But the evidence against the State Department increases. The September 11 attack against the Benghazi embassy wasn’t the first. The consulate was attacked only a few months earlier, in April and June. So, we continue to question the rationality of even having an embassy in a dangerous and possibly unnecessary city.

Next, what role did the CIA and government’s actions play in bringing about an attack? And, just for clarity, this has nothing to do with a conspiracy theory or a false flag. Rather, this requires a bit of background. The Libyan rebels, in their struggle against Qaddafi, received support from the American government, whether in the form of airstrikes, or material support. We soon learned that jihadists were common in the Libyan rebels’ ranks. Therefore, the American government did more than support a group of rebels, it also supported Islamic fighters. As the New York Times noted in December, weapons from Qatar, acting as middlemen for Libya-bound weapons, found their way to Libyan Islamists. It should be noted too that a rebel leader made it known that the “U.S. officials in Libya have begun to look for recruits for a commando force which they plan to train to fight militants…” Considering that the story was reported in November of 2012 and it deals with a government program, we might assume that such activities has been going on for some time. Recently, a retired American general, William Boykin, accused the CIA of utilizing Benghazi as a point for sending weapons to the Syrian rebels. The CIA acted as expected: denying Boykin’s assertion. While we cannot know the full story, it is worth noting that Boykin has knowledge of such matters, being a member of Delta Force for over ten years.

We must be very careful in examining the CIA and government’s role. Perhaps Islamic militants, having received aid and support, wanted to deeply bite into the feeding hand. One might also theorize the Islamists attacking over forming the anti-jihad groups. The government’s bumbling response might stem from bureaucracy or a desire to keep it quiet.  We need to realize that some things in this matter cannot be known. The CIA and government are highly secretive. It would not be hard to imagine some shadowy and shady operations going on in Libya (after all, Islamic terrorists have received aid). And the CIA was allegedly involved with drug smuggling, supporting fascist groups in Western Europe, and helping overthrow the Iranian government in 1953 (along with other coups). The implored care for this matter must include investigating these and other historical events, and refrain from asserting the alleged as fact.

At least for the present time, we cannot know what information the government possesses, what actions the government has taken, or what is the truth in this Benghazi matter. We may, though, propose possibilities and rationally ponder. We have to remember the line that divides the known and unknown.

Christian Lopac | Wabash College | @CLopac