At a time when Hillary Clinton can scarcely afford any news that might cause the American people to lose even more faith in her honesty, a new Benghazi report from House Republicans is certain to create headaches for her campaign. While the final report stops short of laying the blame for the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack at Clinton’s feet, it does showcase a woman – and an administration – that could have done a lot more to protect Americans in Libya.
“It’s not clear what additional intelligence would have satisfied either [Clinton Aide Patrick] Kennedy or the Secretary in understanding the Benghazi mission compound was at risk – short of an attack,” says the report.
According to the House Committee, the Obama administration utterly failed to recognize the growing threat facing diplomats stationed in the war-torn nation. One member of the committee – Jim Jordan of Ohio – said on CNN:
“Why were we still in Benghazi when almost every other country had left? Why did we stay in Benghazi when the security situation was so terrible, so dangerous? And why did the administration mislead us?”
It is this final question that looms ominously over the report. Unlike the factors that led to the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, IT specialist Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALS Glen Doherty and Ty Woods, the Obama administration’s handling of the Benghazi aftermath cannot be waved away as mere incompetence.
Five days after the attacks, UN Ambassador Susan Rice went on national television and said, “What sparked the recent violence was the airing on the internet of a very hateful, very offensive video that has offended many people around the world.”
The video in question – a low-budget, strange movie mocking Islam’s founder, Mohammad – was blamed for spurring violent protests in the Middle East. For quite some time, the Obama administration publicly used the video to explain what happened in Benghazi. But the report concludes that all of the top officials knew this was a lie.
Including Hillary Clinton herself, who told her daughter, “Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an Al Qaeda-like group.”
The next day, she told the Egyptian prime minister that the attacks “had nothing to do with the film.”
The report pinned down the source of the public story, revealing an email sent by Obama’s favorite propagandist, Ben Rhodes, to several top administration officials two days after the attack. In the email, Rhodes advised the White House communications team on their top goals: One, “underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video and not a broader failure of policy,” and Two, “reinforce the President and Administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.”
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama weren’t worried about fixing the problems that led to the deaths of four Americans; they were only worried about the political fallout. Those Americans deserved better, and so do we.