- - Monday, September 23, 2013

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Ayear after the terrorist assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi left four Americans dead, including the ambassador, justice for the victims and their families is still denied. Several Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee had better things to do than even to listen to families of the fallen speak at a hearing Thursday in Washington.

Such lack of concern is contagious. Hillary Rodham Clinton and President Obama vowed in the aftermath of tragedy, when the cameras were rolling, to track down and bring to justice the Islamist killers. So far they’ve put no more effort into the search than O.J. Simpson put into his search for the “real killers” of his wife; he at least scoured every golf course in South Florida.

The investigation by the State Department’s Accountability Review Board turned out to be little more than a knuckle-rapping for low-level officials for not listening to Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens when he begged for more security in the months before the attack. Instead of firing those responsible for the fatal mistake, the department merely dispatched them to shuffle papers in another rabbit warren in Foggy Bottom. John Kerry, who succeeded the bumbling Mrs. Clinton, has since reinstated them to their original warren. This is “accountability” in the Obama administration.

Rep. John L. Mica of Florida, a Republican, describes the review as a whitewash. How else to explain why the board’s leaders, former U.N. Ambassador Thomas Pickering and retired Adm. Mike Mullen, couldn’t find time to have a chat with Mrs. Clinton and Thomas E. Donilon, at the time the president’s national security adviser? Mr. Pickering says that was because neither was involved in the Benghazi security decisions, prompting an incredulous Mr. Mica to reply, “If the secretary [of state] wasn’t involved, I must be on another planet.”

Messrs. Pickering and Mullen instead gave Mrs. Clinton — who appointed four of the five members of the review board — an advance peek at their findings. Mr. Mullen acknowledged that he had warned Mrs. Clinton’s chief of staff not to send a particular officer to testify to the committee because he thought she would be “a weak witness,” and might hurt the interests of the senior bureaucrats at the State Department. This raises serious questions about whether the review actually enjoyed independence from those bureaucrats.

We’re not likely to get the answers, nor the families justice, until the survivors of Benghazi blow the whistle. CNN reported on Aug. 1 that “dozens” of CIA operatives were on the ground in Benghazi at the time of the attack “and that the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing remains a secret.” Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican and a member of the House oversight panel, says the Obama administration is trying to keep them far from curious congressmen, “including changing names, creating aliases,” so they can’t testify. The American people must not stand for this outrage.