May 15 2013
The scandal surrounding the Obama Administration’s actions in Benghazi, Libya, last September 11, in which four Americans died at the hands of an al Qaeda mob– as the President and the Secretary of State declined to send any kind of military help – is finally getting the coverage it deserved from the start. The Obama Administration succeeded in suppressing interest and information during the fall election season, and continues to throw cold water on the investigation. Today the President, rather tauntingly, called the whole incident plus cover-up a “sideshow.”
That’s a scary claim. Because if a failure of action of this magnitude – which the Administration obviously thought was important enough to go to the trouble of covering up with many rounds of lies and interagency memos specifying what the nature of the lies should be – is just a sideshow, then clearly he thinks we are missing far greater failure elsewhere.
To be sure, the debacle in the center ring – the U.S. economy, with the damage about to hit from hurricane ObamaCare—is a bigger failure.
Still, Benghazi is worth understanding, if only because it occurred on the watch of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a woman who has held high office but accomplished little, yet who is considered “unbeatable” as a Democratic candidate for the Presidency in 2016.
For reasons not yet disclosed, US Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens was sent to the outpost at Benghazi, for a meeting with the Turkish Ambassador. Stevens had been the US liaison to the Libyan “Rebels,” whom Hillary Clinton had been so insistent on supporting. “Liaison” in this sense has to do with supplying arms, a task one imagines the CIA, and not the State Department, helped with. And, indeed, there was an active CIA station near the consulate in Benghazi.
Stevens, obviously a man of real courage, had asked, several times over previous months, for more security at the Benghazi outpost. Because an outpost in the middle of ungoverned desert, peopled by Arabs with ties to Al Qaeda, probably isn’t a good place to hang out without taking all reasonable precautions. But Hillary Clinton’s State Department first ignored, then rejected the requests. But they let him go back…for a meeting on September 11, a date that apparently did not ring any bells. Why would it? Osama was dead; GM was alive; and Obama was making the US popular again.
At the time, we knew that the consulate had been attacked; Ambassador Stevens killed, and dragged through the streets. Others had escaped. And three other Americans, who had spent the seven hour ordeal phoning in for help, shooting at the assailants, and keeping them in sights for airpower to take out, had also died.
For reasons known best to themselves, President Obama and Secretary Clinton had made a very big deal of this attack being the result of an obscure video made by a Copt immigrant in California, despite the fact that Secretary Clinton knew for a fact that it was an al Qaeda terror attack. Though this seemed like a transparent lie all along, Obama and Clinton took it all around the world, to Pakistan, to the U.N., making a big moral case against “those who defame Islam,” though no one had. We learned last week at the long awaited Benghazi hearings, that the second in command in Libya – Gregory Hicks, had told Mrs. Clinton himself, as it waged, that the attack was conducted by professional terrorists. Beth Jones, the career Ambassador who is the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near East, was told the same thing by the President of Libya, a fact she undoubtedly did not keep to herself.
We also learned that Mr. Hicks was among those stunned and horrified to learn that none of the available military assets within range of Libya were allowed to deploy there to attempt to save the Ambassador and the three other men. Four Special Ops officers on a tarmac in Tripoli, eager to help, were not allowed to go. Persistent orders to “stand down,” came from the White House, where Secretary Clinton and others were watching the events unfold in real time. President Obama, it seems, did not watch. He went to bed. Then he woke up and got on a plane to go to a fundraiser in Las Vegas. His priorities. Not the priorities of a Commander in Chief.
The Clintons are famous liars. In 2008, Major Democrat funders chose to back Barack Obama instead of Hillary Clinton, because they recalled the “exceptional” lying during the Clinton Administration. They needed to lie, of course, because neither Clinton thought the law applied to him, or her. They were above the rules. It doesn’t look good in a Democracy when you enrich yourself, or lie under oath or skirt the rules, so lie you must when you get caught.
How do you run for President if the image of a powerful woman, choosing to do nothing, to deploy no assets to attempt to save her staff – after failing to get them the security they asked for numerous times – is out there? It becomes much harder.
We learned, last week, that Hillary Clinton’s staff, starting with State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, severely edited away the truth of what happened, in a round of emails with the CIA, which had presented a set of truthful, comprehensive talking points for release to the public. Ms. Nuland thought it would give fodder to Congress to complain about State, if they knew the truth. So she argued to remove all references to Islamic terrorists, al Qaeda, lax security, etc.. Jay Carney, White House spokesman, presided over a deep background meeting in which it became evident to some mainstream news people, that the White House had participated in redacting the truth out of these memos. One or two reporters began to understand that they ought to be very angry about the depth of deception perpetrated on them, and the fact that the Administration played them for the saps they are, knowing that their allegiance has been to the Administration, and not the news, or the truth.
We learned, unsurprisingly, that Hillary Clinton employs a person named Cheryl Mills, as her enforcer. Mills is the one credited with attempting to silence any potential whistleblower. That is, Ms. Mills attempted to shut up the three career Foreign Service Officers, of long and honorable service, who wanted to tell the truth about what had happened, and who were surprised and horrified at the lies that came out of the mouths of Clinton, Obama, the hapless Susan Rice, who had been in line to be Sec. State.
Apparently there are more men and women who knew the truth at the time, and have indicated interest in sharing it. This is the silver lining to the story: good and honorable men and women at the State Department who believe that the American people whom they serve, deserve the truth.
Less attractively, but also useful to recall – a leopard does not change her spots. Hillary Clinton remains just as willing to lie, defame and suppress the testimony of people who know what she did – or did not do – as always, for political ends, as ever. Barack Obama is cut of the same cloth.
Consequences in these matters are always distributed unevenly. Those on the frontlines, who seemed to have had great zeal in lying for their bosses – Ms. Nuland and Mr. Carney – will be the first casualties. You can’t have a spokesman who is known to have lied. They need to go soon. And then the buck shouldn’t stop there.
Lisa Schiffren is a senior fellow at the Independent Women's Forum (www.iwf.org).