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TYRRELL: Benghazi’s unanswered questions
Question of the Day
Digging up old scandals to make room for the new ones
It has now been just over a year since a group of terrorists overwhelmed our diplomatic post in Benghazi and killed four Americans, one of whom was our ambassador, two of whom were former Navy SEALs.
Today, we know little more than we did then, despite bluster from Hillary Rodham Clinton when she was secretary of state and President Obama, who has gone on to still other problems. Incidentally, Mrs. Clinton is now in retirement and ceaselessly roaming the country lecturing for enormous honoraria. She is, according to the press, the “inevitable” 2016 Democratic nominee, and, according to the likes of Time magazine’s Joe Klein, the most talented and credentialed candidate for the presidency in “many a moon.”
Still, she has not seen to it that the American people have been informed about the circumstances surrounding the death of the Americans in Benghazi and, apparently, in her travels around the country, no one has seen fit to discomfit her with questions about the State Department’s handling of Benghazi. Maybe they fear she would shut them down the way she shut down an inquiring U.S. senator with her witty riposte, “What difference, at this point, does it make?” When she said that, she appeared to be ranting.
The troubling fact is that Benghazi is now in danger of being erased from memory by all the subsequent Obama administration scandals. The Prophet Obama did not respond to questions about Benghazi even during his campaign, when he should have been held accountable. Moreover, his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, was depicted by the press as boorish and vaguely misguided for even raising a question about Benghazi during the campaign.
I have put reporters on the case, and they have not even been able to get a response from the White House, not even an acknowledgment of the reporters’ questions. For instance, the indefatigable Robert Stacy McCain has asked the White House without getting a response where the president was the night of Benghazi. Could he see a timeline? “We still have not gotten an answer,” he writes, “and most of the media seem to have lost all interest in the question. White House correspondents have let themselves be played like chumps, treated like court stenographers whose job is to transcribe the administration’s talking points.” Chris Wallace of Fox News did make bold to ask the president’s senior adviser, Dan Pfeiffer, about the president’s whereabouts that night. Yet Mr. Pfeiffer was evasive.
There are other questions to ask. Someone dragged into the White House’s talking points an anti-Muslim tape. Who did this? That cannot be too hard to discover. Allegedly, the head of CIA at the time, Gen. David H. Petraeus, and his colleagues prepared talking points that did not include the tape. Who was responsible for inserting the tape into the talking points? Why did the White House try to deny that the attack was a premeditated terrorist attack? Libya’s president said last Sept. 16 the attack was planned, but the administration continued for days to say there was no evidence it was a planned attack. Who was responsible for this misinformation? Did it come from the State Department or the White House?
What about embassy security? Has there been a record of weak security at diplomatic complexes? I am told there is. Who is responsible for that security? I am told that an old Clinton administration aide, Patrick F. Kennedy, is responsible. Is this so? Is it true that he divides his duties between embassy security and something laughably called the State Department’s “Greening Council,” a project to improve the environmental sustainability of the State Department’s facilities? Is there evidence that Mrs. Clinton knew that the embassies and consulates in the region were in danger? Maybe after a thorough inquiry, her presidential prospects will not be quite so promising. By the way, what about rescuing our people in Benghazi that night in September 2012? Were there troops on the ground capable of doing it? How about nearby, say in Italy? Who was responsible for those troops? Did someone countermand their orders?
Obviously, there are important questions here, and I am sure Congress can come up with additional ones. Congress’ problem and ours is that the Obama administration keeps accumulating scandals.
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of the American Spectator and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute.
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