Will we ever get all of the truth about the false explanations and misdirection from the Administration of President Barack Obama after the terrorist assaults on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11?
Probably not. But we’ve gotten a lot closer in the past few days, thanks to three courageous State Department employees who refused to be part of a cover-up and a House committee that dug long and hard to get more of the truth.
It’s too soon to know what all of the consequences of Wednesday’s hearings by the House Oversight and Government Reform committee will be. One popular White House critic was probably way too optimistic when he predicted that the revelations could bring down Obama’s Presidency.
But on the bright side, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that this story could end any hopes Hillary Clinton had of being elected President in 2016. More on this in a moment.
Whatever happens next, it is now indisputably clear that the murder of Ambassador Chris Stephens and three other Americans was planned by an al-Qaida affiliate in Libya. The CIA knew it — and told Washington. Our staff in Libya knew it — and told their superiors. Top Libyan officials knew it — and repeatedly said so.
So why was any reference to terrorism or al-Qaida carefully and deliberately removed from the “talking points” handed to our U.N. Ambassador, Susan Rice, before she made the rounds of the TV talk shows the Sunday following the attacks?
About that, we can only speculate. Because no one in authority in Obama’s White House and what was Clinton’s State Department will fess up.
Are you really surprised?
It was deeply moving to listen to the three State Department veterans who had the guts to come forward and testify on Wednesday. I was especially impressed by Gregory Hicks, the former deputy chief of mission/charge d’affairs in Libya. He was in Tripoli, a two-hour flight from Benghazi, when Stevens called to tell him, “Greg, we’re under attack.”
Hicks told the committee that none of his efforts to get military assistance for the beleaguered Americans in Benghazi was successful. He revealed that a Special Operations team in Tripoli was ordered to “stand down” and not fly to Benghazi. The officer in charge of the team told Hicks, “I have never been so embarrassed in my life that a State Department officer has bigger balls than somebody in the military.”
Hicks said he was absolutely “dumbfounded” when he heard that an obscure anti-Islamic video was being blamed for turning a group of demonstrators into a murderous mob. “I was stunned. My jaw dropped, and I was embarrassed,” Hicks told the committee. He knew it wasn’t true. But that was the Administration’s story; and, by golly, they were going to stick with it.
Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, no doubt engaged in a bit of hyperbole when he told Sean Hannity before the hearings began that his committee would force the Administration to come clean about “the biggest lie of all.” Issa said:
The Administration has made a claim that for classified reasons they changed the story. We believe right now that may be the biggest lie of all, and we intend on making the president come clean as to, quote, ‘what the classified reasons are that would justify lying to the American people.’
Gripping as the day-long hearings were, of course they didn’t force Obama or anyone in his Administration to “come clean” about the attempted cover-up. That was too much to hope for.
Still, at least one prominent critic believes that the Administration’s deceit about Benghazi could spell the end of Obama’s Presidency.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee didn’t mince words on his radio show earlier this week. “When a president lies to the American people and is part of a cover-up,” the one-time Republican Presidential candidate declared, “he cannot continue to govern.”
Did Huckabee really mean to suggest that Obama could be impeached over the attacks that led to the deaths of Stephens and three other Americans? It sure sounded like it. How else could you interpret comments like these: “As the facts come out, I think we’re going to see something startling. And before it’s over, I don’t think this president will finish his term unless somehow they can delay it in Congress past the next 3 ½ years.”
Huckabee is probably overstating the case. It’s certainly true that seemingly minor incidents can have enormous consequences. Who could have imagined at the time that an amateurish burglary of a Democratic Party office in the Watergate complex in Washington would ultimately force Richard Nixon to resign his Presidency? Or that a sexual escapade with an intern would lead to Bill Clinton’s impeachment?
Huckabee is not alone in warning how serious the consequences of Benghazi could be. John Bolton, our ambassador to the United Nations under George W. Bush, said that the growing scandal could lead to the “unraveling” of the Obama Administration. “This could be a hinge point for the Obama Administration,” Bolton declared. “It’s that serious for them.”
While it’s too soon to declare that our lame-duck President is a dead duck politically, I think it’s very likely that the hearings and the attendant publicity may have had a major unintended consequence. They may have saved us from a Clinton Presidency in 2016.
Remember when Clinton was finally well enough to testify about the assault this past January? She lost her cool (or at least pretended to do so) during her interrogation by a Senate committee. She was almost yelling when she lashed out at Senator Roy Johnson (R-Wis.), saying, “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided to go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?”
Actually, Madame Secretary, you knew very well that the murders occurred, not because of a protest that got out of hand or because some “guys out for a walk one night decided to go kill some Americans.” The assault on our consulate was planned by an al-Qaida affiliate to coincide with the anniversary of 9/11 — and there were plenty of people who knew it.
We still don’t have “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” about the events in Benghazi on Sept. 11, or about the lies and obfuscations that that started in Washington, D.C., almost immediately thereafter.
But we do know that Clinton was part of the effort to stonewall us. And I think enough voters will remember this in 2016 to deny her what she wants more than anything else: the keys to the White House.
Let’s make sure we do our part to see that they do.
Until next time, keep some powder dry.