EDITORIAL: The Benghazi spin

Whistleblowers come forward with facts to tell

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Americans may finally learn the facts about the terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi. These facts arrive eight months late because the Obama administration devoted its full attention to re-weaving the narrative of the killing of an American ambassador and three other diplomats on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 catastrophe at the World Trade Center. A loose thread threatens to unravel this careful effort.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee meets Wednesday to listen to a trio of State Department whistleblowers with intimate knowledge of the terrorist assault that claimed the lives of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three of his colleagues. Gregory N. Hicks, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya; Mark I. Thompson, deputy coordinator for operations in the department’s Counterterrorism Bureau; and Eric Nordstrom, a diplomatic security officer, are scheduled to testify.

The heart of President Obama’s foreign policy has been that a softer engagement with the Muslim world has made Americans safe from terror. The whistleblowers are likely to confirm what many suspect — that the Obama approach is delusional.

Until now, the administration has relied on an internal investigation to quell criticism of the woefully inadequate security provided at the American diplomatic post and a failure to send help to its besieged diplomats. The State Department convened an accountability review board led by former Ambassador Thomas Pickering and retired Adm. Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to “look into” the attack. The board’s December report concluded that some State Department officials “demonstrated a lack of proactive leadership and management ability” in dealing with security deficiencies in Benghazi, but did not “find reasonable cause to determine that any individual U.S. government employee breached his or her duty.” White House spokesman Jay Carney put out the administration’s latest line of defense last week, “Benghazi happened a long time ago.” The message is clear: “Nothing to see here; move on.”

That won’t happen, because there’s a lot here to see. The three State Department employees have hired Joe DiGenova, the former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, as their lawyer, and Mr. DiGenova has a reputation that he’s not a man given to backing down under pressure. “The Benghazi report by Pickering and Mullen is a cover-up,” he told Fox News.

An interim report by House Republicans last month singled out Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state at the time, as responsible for the weakness that left American diplomats in Benghazi without defense. “Reductions of security levels prior to the attacks in Benghazi were approved at the highest levels of the State Department,” the report concluded, “up to and including Secretary Clinton. This fact contradicts her testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Jan. 23, 2013.”

Mrs. Clinton retorted angrily to questions from the U.S. Senate about Benghazi with a dismissive, “What difference, at this point, does it make?” The hearings this week might demonstrate that it makes a lot of difference. A decision by the administration to reduce security in the face of heightened danger would reflect a failure of leadership that could leave other American diplomats in dangerous places similarly threatened.

Unweaving the truth is about more than settling what happened in Benghazi, important as that is. It’s about getting national priorities straight for the future. Appeasement and “leading from behind” won’t protect Americans and American interests from Islamic radicalism.

The Washington Times

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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