Yesterday was a long day of testimony in the Benghazi hearings. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, aggressive Republican questioners, and what were essentially Democratic defense attorneys sparred over points that have been argued exhaustively both in Washington and in the national media.
While it was previously determined that the deaths of four American patriots were quite avoidable, and came as the result of government negligence in a terror-ridden region of the world, I think there were three primary takeaways from yesterday’s conference:
1. Hillary Clinton was an absolutely terrible Secretary of State. Beyond not having any achievements to show from her tenure as Secretary, it’s clear she demonstrated a breathtaking disinterest in the management and oversight of the initiatives she was responsible for. Off-the-grid political operatives like Sidney Blumenthal had her immediate ear (and email address), but those who worked under her, doing important high-level work in dangerous parts of the world did not. Chris Stevens’ numerous, desperate calls for more security in Benghazi not only went unanswered, but apparently went unheard, not even making it to her desk (if you believe Clinton’s testimony anyway).
2. No one was held accountable for what happened in Benghazi, except Ambassador Chris Stevens. As congressman Mike Pompeo aptly pointed out at the hearing, no one was fired over the grossly inadequate security in Benghazi, and the failure of the government to react to the attack. It was the first time a U.S. ambassador had been killed since 1979, and not one government employee lost a single paycheck over it.
During the hearing, Clinton said more than once that she “takes responsibility” for Benghazi, but no one seems to be able to define what that means. Does just saying the words somehow equate to accountability for the gross negligence that cost four men their lives?
How about some accountability for all of the barriers to truth that were placed in front of serious investigations into Benghazi? Our Secretary of State violated White House policy by conducting all of her email business on a private server, which was out of reach of the U.S. government. This allowed her to withhold (and in some cases destroy) information owned by the American people, not to mention stonewall and significantly delay the efforts of those investigating what happened.
In fact, the closest thing we heard in the hearing resembling accountability was the narrative, repeatedly pushed by Clinton, that Ambassador Chris Stevens himself was partially responsible for his own death.
“Chris Stevens understood that diplomats must operate in many places where our soldiers do not,” said Clinton. “Where there are no other boots on the ground and safety is far from guaranteed.”
Clinton was adamant that Stevens had asked for the Libya assignment, recognizing the importance of forming good U.S. relationships in that country. She added that Stevens “understood we will never prevent every act of terrorism or achieve perfect security and that we inevitably must accept a level of risk to protect our country and advance our interests.”
No one would argue against the notion that U.S. diplomats do indeed accept a certain amount of risk in their work, especially when serving in the Middle East. What’s clear is that Stevens was adamant in the fact that he believed the deteriorating security situation in Benghazi was placing him in an unacceptable amount of risk, hence his repeated calls for reinforcements that never came.
Again, where is the accountability for that? And why wasn’t there a single Democratic representative on the Benghazi committee that felt the victims deserved people to be held accountable?
3. Hillary lied to the country and the victims’ families about how and why four American heroes died. She did so purely for political purposes, as did other high-ranking government officials including the President of the United States. This has long been an assertion put forth by Clinton’s critics, based on timeline revelations about what our government knew of the attack, and when they knew it. What we were presented with yesterday, however, was irrefutable proof.
On the night of the attacks in Benghazi, in an email to her daughter, Hillary Clinton noted that the compound had been attacked by “an al Quaeda-like group,” not a spontaneous mob reacting to a YouTube video, as Clinton had insisted was the case in her public statement that was released by the State Department an hour earlier.
The next day, in a discussion with Egyptian prime minister Hesham Kandil that was recorded by a State Department note-taker, Clinton said, “We know that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film…It was a planned attack – not a protest.”
Over the next couple of days, Clinton would not only repeat to the world (while standing in front of the caskets of the American victims) that the YouTube video was responsible, but she would also comfort the Benghazi victims’ families by assuring them that the maker of the YouTube video (who she knew had nothing to do with the attacks) would be brought to justice.
Over the next few weeks, as America was deciding who they would elect as their president, Clinton and the Obama White House repeatedly ran with the video narrative. They touted their anti-terror foreign policy successes, and ran a victory lap over the high-profile arrest of the filmmaker on an unrelated, outstanding warrant.
If you’ll recall, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was absolutely skewered by the media for suggesting that the Obama administration had misled the country on who was responsible for the Benghazi attacks. We now know that Romney was absolutely right. Fox News and conservative media outlets alike were trashed for their persistence in pursuing this same story. They too are now vindicated, though the mainstream media (who all along has been disgustingly lazy on Benghazi) is refusing to acknowledge it.
What’s incredibly frustrating (but not at all surprising) is the fact that if you turned on your television this morning (as I did) to listen to the news media reaction on the network morning shows, all you would have heard about were two things: How well Hillary Clinton handled herself, and the animated dust-up between Elijah Cummings and Trey Gowdy.
Yes, our fearless mainstream media, that decided even before the hearing started that it was nothing more than political theater, treated it exactly as such, not bothering to focus on any of the things I described above. They valued style and presentation over the air-tight fact that those at the upper echelon of our government lied to the country, at the expense of dead Americans, because of an election that was just too important to lose.
Will Americans care? Sadly, if they didn’t before, they probably won’t now – not without the media on-board to frame it for them.
If you care (and most of you reading this do), and you think it’s important for others who aren’t all that interested in politics to care, I’d suggest you share this video clip from Megyn Kelly’s show last night on your social media accounts. She did an excellent job of laying out the cover-up, and why it’s significant.