Hillary “What Difference Does It Make?” Clinton made a remarkable statement this week that fell by the wayside of the Bergdahl and VA scandals engulfing her former boss’s presidency.
The one-time secretary of state, pimping her new book “Hard Choices,” declared in her chapter on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in Benghazi that “There will never be perfect clarity on everything that happened.”
In the book, Mrs. Clinton takes a defiant tone on the 2012 attacks that left four Americans dead, and mocks the multiple congressional investigations that have followed.
“It is unlikely that there will ever be anything close to full agreement on exactly what happened that night, how it happened, or why it happened. But that should not be confused with a lack of effort to discover the truth or to share it with the American people,” she wrote.
Her conclusion is remarkable because accountability is what the Constitution sets up for all government officials. We can — and should — know every detail about the events that occurred that night, when a U.S. ambassador was killed for the first time in more than 20 years.
Team Clinton first dumped excerpts from the 34-page chapter on a Friday — the old Clinton trick of releasing unpleasant information just before the weekend so it seems like old news come sun-up on Monday. She made multiple excuses — the opposite of accountability — saying she never saw memos requesting additional security at the dangerous outpost in Libya.
She explained that the dispatches were addressed to her because of a “procedural quirk” and she never actually saw them. Such small-ball emails don’t make their way to the top dog: “That’s not how it works. It shouldn’t. And it didn’t,” she wrote.
But a prime questions is: Why not? The multiple cables from Libya clearly detailed a growing problems; other embassies were closing up shop and pulling out at the time, so why wouldn’t the security of an American ambassador be exactly the kind of issue that rose to the secretary of state’s attention?
Oversight, at least according to the Founders, falls to Congress. Lawmakers, elected by the people to check the power of presidential appointees, have wide-ranging means to require federal officials to provide information — whether they like it or not. But here again, Mrs. Clinton sought to pre-empt a newly commissioned committee set up to probe the deadly attack.
“I will not be a part of a political slugfest on the backs of dead Americans. It’s just plain wrong, and it’s unworthy of our great country. Those who insist on politicizing the tragedy will have to do so without me,” she wrote.
More, she blames the media for, as the left-leaning Politico website that was handed the book’s early excerpts put it, “manipulating a tragedy for partisan gain.”
There is a “regrettable amount of misinformation, speculation, and flat-out deceit by some in politics and the media,” she wrote, but new information from “a number of reputable sources continues to expand our understanding of these events.”
Indeed it does. One such nugget was the sudden release of internal White House memos that showed top Obama aides sought to minimize the fallout of the attacks, just two months before the 2012 presidential election. Communications Director Ben Rhodes wrote talking points “to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”
But that email was never handed over to lawmakers, despite demands and subpoenas. The talking point emerged only after a Freedom of Information Act request from a gadfly government watchdog group.
One lawmaker, Rep. Frank Wolf, Virginia Republican, summed up the issue: “It is now abundantly clear that senior White House staff were directly involved in coordinating the messaging in response to the Benghazi attacks and were actively working to tie the reason to the infamous Internet video, which they knew from the CIA and others was demonstrably false. In short, the administration, specifically the White House, lied about a matter with direct bearing on U.S. national security in order to influence an electoral outcome.”
Hillary may claim that there will never be “perfect clarity” on Benghazi, but lawmakers should insist otherwise — and demand answers.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @josephcurl.