Hillary: What difference does it make if there were no protests in Benghazi?

posted at 12:01 pm on January 23, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Allahpundit included this in his earlier post as an update, but I have a few thoughts on why this line of questioning matters. Senator Ron Johnson pressed the outgoing Secretary of State for an answer as to how her department and the White House came to declare that the attack erupted spontaneously from a protest outside the consulate when State could see in real time that there wasn’t any such protest under way. A clearly exasperated Clinton shot back, “What difference does it make?”

Well, gosh, I can think of a few reasons why it matters. First, it mattered enough for the Obama administration to send Susan Rice to five different Sunday talk shows to insist that the sacking was a spontaneous demonstration of anger over a months-old YouTube video, while saying that there was “no evidence” that it was a terrorist attack. On one of those appearances, the president of Libya told US audiences the exact opposite — that it was the work of terrorists and that they had a pretty good idea of who they were. If it didn’t matter, what was Susan Rice doing when she tried pushing that meme, which the White House had to abandon within days as leaks within State and CIA made plain that there was no demonstration?

It also matters because Barack Obama at the time had been bragging about crippling al-Qaeda while on the campaign trail. That false narrative made it seem as though State and our intel community couldn’t have possibly known that the sacking would have occurred, and got blindsided by a grassroots reaction to the video. Instead, it turned out to be a planned terrorist action about which the US embassy in Libya had warned State for months, repeatedly requesting more security.

There’s also the matter of Barack Obama’s intervention in Libya and his undeclared war against Moammar Qaddafi. His actions, and that of NATO in following his initial lead, decapitated the ruthless regime that at least was keeping a lid on terrorist networks in eastern Libya. The rise of those networks in the Benghazi region should have been a predictable outcome from the power vacuum the US/NATO campaign left in the region, which resulted in the ability to conduct this attack. That also reflects on the decision to remove the military security at the consulate even with the deteriorating environment very clear to anyone paying attention. That also matters because of how the transfer of weapons to the militias in that US/NATO effort and the resultant power vacuum has destabilized Mali and potentially a wide swath of North Africa.

So it matters because of credibility. There doesn’t seem to be any at the White House or State on any of these issues, nor answers to questions of what exactly this administration did to prepare for the inevitable outcome of its own policies in Libya and the broader Arab Spring. It matters because those policies are going to get more people killed than just the four Americans in Benghazi last September, and already have.

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