Obama Administration hopes people have moved on and will forget the entire debacle that cost the lives of four Americans.
Call me stubborn, but I’m not letting go of Benghazi.
The more we find out about how the Administration (including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) handled the situation, the worse it looks.
The slow drip of information continued on Thursday as Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta testified before a Senate committee. He admitted that during the entire 8-hour attack, Clinton failed to contact him. Nor did she contact the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Depsey. Obama, it was learned, was similarly AWOL. Dempsey testified that the State Department never requested any military assistance.
Eh, what Difference does it make, right?
You will recall that during the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations’ hearing on the Benghazi terrorist attacks, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson may have elicited the most important line of testimony from Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton.
Senator Johnson asked Secretary Clinton about what seems like the administration’s attempt to mislead the public on the cause of the attack. He asked if a simple phone call to any one of the 25-30 people that were evacuated could not have determined that it was a planned terrorist attack and not a "demonstration" that turned ugly, as the administration was selling during the immediate days after.
Here was her response:
"With all due respect, the fact is that we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?"
It makes a difference because we now know that the American people were being lied to. Not just a small bending of the truth. Not a "political lie" where you can use the same set of facts to come to two different conclusions. No ma’am, it wasn’t one of those lies. This was a flat out, contemptuous, bold-faced, lie.
The administration knew that a terrorist attack was a very bad thing for this particular President during his campaign. The meme that was being sold to the public was that the President took out Bin Laden and Al Qaeda was on it’s way out as well. An attack on American soil would spoil this narrative so it was decided that it was in the President’s best interest to make this look like anything but a terrorist attack.
Enter the video.
Immediately after the attack, it was decided that this incident would be blamed on a largely unseen anti-Islamic Youtube video produced in the United States. The story would go like this: A group of people gathered around our consulate in Benghazi to protest this video and somehow, it turned violent, causing the death of our Ambassador and three other Americans. The emphasis must be on the video because then it can at least partly be blamed on an American.
Reality is, not only did they know this was not probable, by the time they started making statements, they KNEW IT WAS NOT TRUE.
However, they didn’t need to call any of the evacuees as Senator Johnson suggested. The State Department had sent an email to the White House, Pentagon, FBI, and a few other government agencies saying that terrorist group Ansar Al-Sharia took credit for the attack. There was no mention of a protest. That email was sent at 6:07pm. Three hours after the attack started. It seems that the administration took the next three or four hours to find a way to blame the protesters of the video, even though there wasn’t a protest outside the Benghazi consulate.
At 10:00 on the same night, Secretary Clinton made reference to the video in her first statement.
The next day, September 12, Secretary Clinton makes a speech at the State Department. While she states that "there is no justification for this", she again references the video.
On the same day, President Obama makes a statement in the Rose Garden and references the video. Right after his statement, the President is interviewed by Steve Kroft of CBS and says that he won’t call the incident "terrorism" because "it’s too early to know exactly how this came about."
They aren’t sure it’s terrorism so they won’t say it, but we now know that at this point, they knew it wasn’t the "video" but they say that with passivity.
This went on for many days and despite the President of Libya stating that this was a long-planned terrorist attack, US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice spends her Sunday morning as the first administration official to be questioned by the press at length on the attacks, telling anyone that would listen that this (non-existent) protest began "spontaneously … as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo."
Again, a lie.
Secretary Clinton testified: "With all due respect, the fact is that we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?"
With all due respect Madam Secretary, it was neither. It was a well-planned and executed terrorist attack on the United States of America. One for which we were unprepared, and during which you and the Commander-in-chief were not in contact with the key leaders in the military chain of command.
That’s the difference.
Dan Deibert is a former Milwaukee and Chicago radio host and you can find him on twitter @dandeibert.