In the world of philosophy, there are two prime schools of thought about action and consequence.
One, laid out in detail by Immanuel Kant, is deontology, a theory in which the goodness of an act is judged solely by adherence to a rule or set of rules. There are universal duties and obligations, and it is the motive of the actor that matters.
In the second, teleology, determining whether an act is morally right or wrong depends solely on the results of said act (good results, good act; bad results, bad act). In this sort of pragmatic ethics, the ends justify the means — always.
But unlike utilitarianism — in which all actions are deemed morally acceptable if they are directed toward achieving the greater good for the largest number of people — teleological ethics, with its pure moral objectivism, has a simple tenet: If it's good for you, then it's good.
Which brings us to Hillary Clinton and President Obama. And Benghazi.
Something bad happened that night, Sept. 11, 2012. Something terrible. A U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were murdered after a group of up to 150 terrorists descended on the diplomatic compound there, and later a nearby CIA annex. They came to kill, armed with rocket-propelled grenades, hand grenades, assault rifles, machine guns and heavy artillery mounted on trucks. It was a bloodbath.
The White House refused for weeks to call the assault a "terrorist attack." Instead, the Obama administration dispatched the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice (for some reason), to detail what the White House "knew." She said on Sept. 16 that the attackers gathered "spontaneously" at the Benghazi consulate and were "spontaneously inspired" by a "hateful video."
After dodging for days, the president said on Sept. 20 that the attack was the culmination of "natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video" (a 14-minute film posted on YouTube — in July 2012). At the United Nations on Sept. 25, he blamed "a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world," saying, "There's no video that justifies an attack on an embassy."
Meanwhile, on Sept. 12, Mrs. Clinton said the attack was "a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet." The next day, " the video circulating on the Internet that has led to these protests in a number of countries." And the next day, at the "Transfer of Remains" ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base, " an awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with."
But that wasn't true — not even close. They were all lies. And the president and secretary of State knew it.
"Minutes after the American consulate in Benghazi came under assault on Sept. 11, 2012, the nation's top civilian and uniformed defense officials — headed for a previously scheduled Oval Office session with President Obama — were informed that the event was a 'terrorist attack,' declassified documents show," Fox News reported Monday.
"The new evidence raises the question of why the top military men, one of whom was a member of the president's Cabinet, allowed him and other senior Obama administration officials to press a false narrative of the Benghazi attacks for two weeks afterward," reporter James Rosen wrote.
Indeed. The declassified documents show that Gen. Carter Ham, who at the time was head of the Defense Department combatant command with jurisdiction over Libya, knew almost immediately that the attack was not spontaneous and did not stem from the video. "There was some preliminary discussion about, you know, maybe there was a demonstration. But I think at the command, I personally and I think the command very quickly got to the point that this was not a demonstration, this was a terrorist attack," the general said.
And on Wednesday a new report by a bipartisan Senate panel said not only did the administration fail in initially blaming an anti-Islam video, it found the attack could have been averted. The committee said the State Department failed to take action or work with the Pentagon after diplomats in Libya repeatedly warned their superiors about the deteriorating security around Benghazi.
They knew. The president and the secretary of State knew all along. But for Mr. Obama, the revelation would have been disastrous to his re-election campaign — Election Day was less than two months away. And for Mrs. Clinton, her hopes to win the White House would have been greatly compromised if it turned out she had stood idly by while terrorists killed a U.S. ambassador — on Sept. 11, no less.
So they lied. For weeks, the White House refused to call it "terror" — then, in a remarkable turnabout, claimed they had said all along that the attack was terrorism. An investigation into what happened, commissioned by the White House, bottled up facts for months. In the meantime, Mrs. Clinton ran out the clock, refusing to testify to Congress until days before she left her post.
When she finally appeared, she came out with this spectacularly brazen line, one only a true "ends justify the means" devotee could espouse: "What difference at this point does it make?"
Now, more than a year later, with still so many unanswered questions, finding the truth seems lost to the wind. So little firsthand knowledge exists: Only a handful of eyewitnesses has testified (although there were dozens at the diplomatic compound), and footage from a U.S. drone that flew over the site that night has never been shown. For the record, the CIA demanded agents who were in Benghazi sign a second nondisclosure agreement, and video surveillance from on-site security cameras reportedly shows no protest before the attack.
As a Christmas present, The New York Times, bent on electing another liberal in 2016, is seeking to rewrite the entire narrative. The paper wrote Dec. 28 that "contrary to claims by some members of Congress, [the attack] was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam." And there weren't any "terrorists," The Times says, just some local "fighters who had benefited directly from NATO's extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi" — whatever that means.
So, disciples of the-ends-justify-the-means philosophy are winning, at least for now. But perhaps someone — anyone — in Congress with a desire to get to the truth for truth's sake, to adhere to the rules that govern not just elected officials but all of humanity, will make a stand. It's not too late — at least not yet.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times and is now editor of the Drudge Report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @josephcurl.