Here we are now rapidly approaching the second anniversary of this hideous attack, and efforts continue unabated to cover up not only what the government knows but who did what and when. A rather weak House Speaker, John Boehner, has let far too much time pass dealing with House sub-committees who only have the authority to focus on the investigation from certain angles. Finally, recent email traffic regarding Benghazi—released as a result of a lawsuit—provides Boehner with grounds to form a special committee. Now. When the fire is almost burned out and only tiny embers continue to glow, reminding us that justice was never served.
Some call Benghazi a “tragedy,” some call it a “scandal.” Perhaps it was both. After all, Nixon once described the Watergate break-in at Democratic Party Headquarters as a “second-rate burglary,” but in the end, it turned out to be a first-rate cover-up that left a long-standing stain on the Office of the President for all of Nixon’s successors to endure. Of course there are some who will offer up their “buts” here, pointing out the fact that Benghazi differs from Watergate because no “crime” was committed at Benghazi. Based on prevailing news coverage, that might be your impression, but I sincerely beg to differ.
Benghazi and Cairo became hot spots in the media-labeled “Arab-Spring,” uprisings that were touted as the Islamic world’s effort to break the chains of authority and tyranny and emerge a free people. Those on the ground in Benghazi serving various diplomatic functions and those within the CIA had made it known to Washington, and particularly to the leadership of the U.S. State Department, that security and protection for their respective facilities was lacking and inadequate to guard against a potential attack. Although repeated requests for additional security personnel and equipment were made over the months leading up to the September 11, 2012 attacks, they were basically ignored. The status quo was maintained.
Let us stop for a moment here and consider something of importance. When people on the ground who are trained in particular disciplines look about their surroundings and come back with the conclusion that protection and safety measures are inadequate, someone should listen; someone should take the responsibility for stepping up and remedying that situation as no man or woman should be asked to serve in a diplomatic role in any location in which their lives are in unnecessary danger—especially in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks on the USA. There is no basis to imply that these people who requested increased security measures were over-reacting or misreading the situation. Their assessment was simply ignored and received no meaningful follow-up. This inaction is now rationalized with the excuse that the CIA (back in Virginia) had assessed conditions and didn’t find them unduly dangerous.
Let us also keep in mind some important factors of the day. At that time, President Obama was nearing the finish line for his re-election to a second term. He and those representing his administration had happily and assertively declared that Osama Bin Laden was dead and Al-Qaeda was “on the run.” The Benghazi situation, ill-timed and inconvenient, did not reflect that narrative. Nevertheless, it would have been better to exercise caution in Benghazi while there was time rather than do nothing. Bolstering security could have taken place without much notice by the American people. But that is not how the Obama Administration decided to play it. Instead the decision was made to essentially do nothing, a decision that played itself out disastrously in the events of that fateful night in 2012.
With the approach of the anniversary of 9-11 and demonstrations already taking place in the streets of Cairo, the atmosphere of unrest was right for an attack, an attack that could potentially be misconstrued as nothing more than an extension of those demonstrations—demonstrations that got totally out of hand. By the time the State Department received word that the initial attack was taking place, the timeline for an effective response had already run out. Response units were too far away and too much time was needed to get them into position to effect the attack or turn it around—at least that is the way that officials of the Obama Administration, like former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, describe it. Essentially the damage was already done so, “what difference does it make now, Senator?”
I submit to you that there was a crime committed at Benghazi—a crime of negligence—carried out by our own government. By the time that Obama had met with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta at 5 PM on the day of the first attack, the decision was already in place to “stand down.” Accordingly, since the decision to stand down had already been made, there was no need for the president to go to the Situation Room. We would stand down. That position was very clear to President Obama and quite clear to both Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta. Four men would die—including a U.S. Ambassador— and hundreds of American lives would be endangered because the USA was “standing down.” In my mind, the conscious decision to ignore security requests made months before, coupled with the decision to stand down, is quite simply “negligence” and “dereliction of duty” under the oaths of office taken by Ms. Clinton and Mr. Obama.
Let us take Benghazi one step further and consider the investigations conducted thus far. Here is where the road forks in terms of the behavior of the media between “Watergate” and “Benghazi”. Nixon had a rather abrasive relationship with the media mostly stemming from the situation in Vietnam. For the media, Watergate was like the smell of fresh blood and raw meat to a pack of wolves—they were all over it. The unrelenting pressure in the media kept the story on the table and in the face of America day in and day out until the last nail was driven into the coffin. That moment came when the high courts ordered that Nixon must give up his unedited tape recordings for review by the investigative bodies. That is the moment when a second-rate burglary became a first-rate cover-up and Richard Nixon lost all credibility with the American people. With Benghazi, the situation is different because the vast majority of the current media participated in the firestorm movement to put Obama into the high office of President. Now, even though it is obvious to the adoring media that they have been manipulated and misled, lied to and stone-walled, they cannot bring themselves to go after the truth and do their job in an objective and effective fashion. In fact, there seems to be a prevailing attitude among the media that says, “Anyone who believes that Obama is responsible and accountable for events of Benghazi is a racist—plain and simple”.
Obama is going to remain silent on Benghazi. Hillary Clinton is going to remain silent on Benghazi, or fall short in telling the true story of what happened as she did before the State Foreign Relations Committee—which would have amounted to perjury had she been under oath at the time. Leon Panetta will remain silent as well and stick to the initial story he delivered to the investigative committee—a story that I really do not think even he believes. Nevertheless, Panetta has always been a “good soldier” to those he has served in his years as a bureaucrat, and he likely sees nothing to gain in laying out his true beliefs on this issue. But let me say this at this point, “Leon, I hope you hear the baby lambs crying out each night as you long for a peaceful rest.”
The Special Committee will now go forward on Benghazi. The administration will do everything in its power (and possibly some things beyond the scope of its power) to attempt to deter progress. Certainly the media will be strong-armed and manipulated—not so much because they can be but more because they want to be. For once in history, the principles of objectivity and journalism fly in the face of personal preferences, and far too many in the media will choose the latter. There will be no real revelations in the coming months as the “smoking guns” are already out there but as yet still ignored. In the end, the question will come down to whether or not we hold a President and his administration responsible and accountable for obviously mismanaging the security and safety of four American citizens, especially those Navy Seals who died standing on the principles that Americans have always fought for in our history.
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