Suddenly, it seems we have broken through the most effective executive branch cover-up and complicit media blackout in memory. Among the many recent revelations is one that had gone unnoted: the prominent role played by women in the Obama administration’s policymaking that led up to the jihadist attack in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, the administration’s handling of the crisis and its subsequent, scandalous damage-control operation.
Since, as they say, you can’t tell the players without a scorecard, here’s a short guide to the women of the Benghazi debacle, whose contributions to one aspect or another of this affair have become public knowledge — thanks, in particular, to testimony from three whistleblowers before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week:
First, there is Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time. We now know she was personally responsible for at least some of the decisions that left personnel in the special mission compound in Benghazi highly vulnerable to attack. Her whereabouts and activities are unaccounted for — like those of President Obama — during most of the seven-plus hours in which jihadists systematically assaulted first that facility and then a nearby CIA annex. Then, the next day, she knowingly deceived the public about what precipitated the attack, blaming an Internet video.
The poster child for the Benghazi cover-up is United Nations Ambassador Susan E. Rice. She was chosen to make the rounds of all five network Sunday morning news programs on Sept. 16. She reinforced the false narrative that Mrs. Clinton first pushed out publicly four days before in a joint Rose Garden appearance with Mr. Obama.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland was evidently among those involved in massaging 12 different versions of “talking points” upon which intelligence officials drew to misleadingly brief the Congress. Mrs. Rice also used such guidance to justify the fraud that YouTube, not jihad, was responsible for the violence in Benghazi.
Mrs. Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, was formerly in charge of managing so-called bimbo eruptions during Bill Clinton’s 1992 run for the White House and while he was in office. According to one of last week’s witnesses, Gregory Hicks — who became the chief of mission in Libya after his boss, Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, was killed during the attack, Ms. Mills has lately been suppressing equally unwanted eruptions concerning Benghazi. She upbraided the diplomat for challenging the party line about what happened then and thereafter. She also reportedly sought to interfere with a congressional investigation into the matter.
Mr. Hicks testified that the acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, Beth Jones, delivered her own, “blistering critique” of his management style after he asked “why the ambassador said there was a demonstration when the embassy reported there was an attack?” Mr. Hicks thinks he was demoted in retaliation for posing such unwelcome questions.
Curiously, the truth that has finally begun to emerge has yet to shed light on the involvement of two other women who almost certainly were players before, during and after the Benghazi attacks.
The first is Valerie Jarrett. She is Mr. Obama’s longtime consigliere. Such is her relationship with him and the first lady that she is permitted to involve herself in virtually all portfolios, including the most sensitive foreign affairs and national security ones. That would surely be the case in this instance in light of Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan’s insightful observation:
“The Obama White House sees every event as a political event . Because of that, it could not tolerate the idea that the armed assault on the Benghazi consulate was a premeditated act of Islamist terrorism. That would carry a whole world of unhappy political implications and demand certain actions. And the American presidential election was only eight weeks away. They wanted this problem to go away, or at least to bleed the meaning from it.”
To rephrase Sen. Howard Baker famous questions from an earlier congressional investigation of a presidential cover-up called Watergate: What did Ms. Jarrett do, and when did she do it?
Then, there’s Mrs. Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin. It strains credulity that Ms. Abedin would not be involved in this crisis, given the important role she has played in Mrs. Clinton’s world for more than 12 years. As The Washington Post observed in 2007 — long before Mrs. Clinton became America’s top diplomat: “Abedin is one of Clinton’s most-trusted advisers on the Middle East . When Clinton hosts meetings on the region, Abedin’s advice is always sought.”
What was Ms. Abedin’s advice when her boss responded to the proverbial “3 o’clock call” on the evening of Sept. 11, 2012? For that matter, in light of Ms. Abedin’s long-standing and well-documented ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, we need to know what advice she had been giving the secretary of state about helping the Brotherhood and its fellow Islamists topple relatively friendly regimes throughout the Mideast and North Africa, including Moammar Gadhafi’s in Libya.
Of course, there are plenty of men implicated in the run-up to, events of and efforts to conceal the Benghazi scandal, starting with the president himself. Their contributions to this debacle require thorough investigation. So do those of the women of Benghazi, though, including those peculiarly unimplicated to date: Valerie Jarrett and Huma Abedin.
Frank J. Gaffney Jr. was an assistant secretary of defense under President Reagan. He is president of the Center for Security Policy (SecureFreedom.org), a columnist for The Washington Times and host of the syndicated program Secure Freedom Radio.