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Benghazi

2015-10-12

On September 11, 2012, a group of over 100 armed men attacked the compound in Benghazi occupied by the US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and killed him and another man, Embassy Information Management Officer Sean Smith.  A subsequent attack on a CIA compound in Benghazi, where the surviving five Embassy officers had retreated, killed two Embassy security officers.  The Accountability Review Board, a State Department review board, provides an excellent timeline describing everything that happened in the attacks in its report.

One detail of historical importance is that the previous US Embassy in Benghazi was stormed and burned in June 1967, during the Arab-Israeli war of that year.  One would guess that that previous incident would have clued people in that Benghazi is a dangerous place.  Unfortunately, many of the Embassy staffers in Libya spent only a few days there because of the way assignments were structured, so long-term thinking wasn’t a priority.

Today, Politifact published an assessment of Hillary Clinton’s claim this morning that there have been seven Congressional investigations into the attack– or at least Clinton’s culpability in relation to the attack– so far, with the special Select House Committee investigation announced in May 2014 making number eight.  Obviously her claim is correct.  The rest of her statement, however, may be open to interpretation, which is why I took a look at the case.

There has been, in fact, no finding of a need for disciplinary action or criminal finding of liability with regard to Mrs. Clinton’s behavior over Benghazi.  Wikipedia has entries on the attack and on the House Select Committee, if you want to argue about it.  To a radical Republican, however, Wikipedia is merely a tool of the devil.  Any attempt on my part to review the right of center literature on Benghazi would cause terminal outrage, so I decided not to tax my already over-strained tolerance abilities on such a small issue.

Two things are clear from today’s reading: the State Department has severe mission-itis, and the Republicans (the Koch brothers in particular) have spent millions of their own and the taxpayer’s money trying to pin blame on Hillary Clinton.  First, the Accountability Review Board’s report shows that there were indications that something was going to happen in Benghazi that would have been noticeable to a curious intelligence officer.  Second, the Republicans (especially the Koch brothers) have millions to spend on spreading negative propaganda about Hillary Clinton, and they have the influence within the government (their majority representation in the House being one example) that makes it possible for them to set up endless politically motivated investigations into the alleged wrongdoing of senior Democrats who might run for President.

In fact, the new Select Committee specially set up to investigate the situation that the Select Committee on Intelligence was about to report on, was announced in May 2014, just before the previous Select Committee was about to release its report.  The new Select Committee spent a great deal of time taking the deposition of a political buddy of the Clintons, Sidney Blumenthal, because it discovered that he had sent emails to Hillary Clinton about the situation in Libya.  Blumenthal had no first hand knowledge of what happened in the Benghazi attacks, and he was not employed by the government.  He was, however, offering advice to Clinton in regards to a Media Matters (a liberal web site) piece about Benghazi, and he was employed by the Clinton Foundation.

The exciting find of the new Select Committee was their discovery that Clinton had used a private email server for both her personal and business emails when she was Secretary of State.  It’s not important that other government figures who had to handle classified information also used private email servers, or that her server was located in her basement and thus relatively immune to breakins (unlike official State Department servers.)  What is important is that it sounds odd to the uninitiated public.

By the way, the first House Select Committee, when it released its report in November 2014, “exonerated the Obama administration of wrongdoing in response to the attack” (Politifact.)  It also concluded that “officials did not intentionally mislead the public… in the days following the attack.”  So that report just wasn’t good enough, which is one reason another committee had to be drafted.  The other reason being that the issue had to be kept before the public until the Presidential Election next November.

The Democrats have made themselves easy targets for the propaganda put out by radical Republicans, first by leaving Hillary out there all alone as the only certain candidate for President, and second, by being too careful in their choice of message.  Just tell the unvarnished truth, and let the Republicans get twisted up in the lies.

 

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