Before Wednesday’s hearing on the attack in Benghazi, Libya, Republicans in Congress promised explosive new details about the administration’s mishandling of the episode. Instead, the hearing showed, yet again, that sober fact-finding is not their mission. Common sense and good judgment have long given way to conspiracy-mongering and a relentless effort to discredit President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton…
The hearing did not prove anything like an administration cover-up or other hysterical allegations of crimes equal to Watergate that some Republicans, such as Representative Steve King and Senator Lindsey Graham, have alleged. Republicans have held numerous hearings and briefings on Benghazi and are threatening to hold even more. It is a level of interest they did not show during George W. Bush’s administration when there were 64 attacks on American diplomatic targets or in the years they spent cutting back diplomatic security budgets.
The attorney for one of the Benghazi whistleblowers told TheBlaze Radio that he has more people who want to come forward to testify.
Joseph diGenova, attorney for acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Counterterrorism Mark Thompson, did not specify how many new witnesses there were, but said they had been “on the ground” and “in the fight” during the September assault that left four Americans dead. Thompson was one of three whistleblowers who went before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.
“We’ve been contacted by some people on the ground who were there, who were in the fight, who want to come forward but who fear if they do they will never get contract work with the agency again,” diGenova told TheBlaze Radio host Jay Severin on Thursday. “We are going to test the director of central intelligence’s word [that those who testify will not be penalized]. If these people decide they want to come forward, the first thing we’re going to do is go to the director’s office and say here they are, how are you going to protect them?”
The White House has long maintained that the talking points were drafted almost exclusively by the CIA, a claim that gave cover to both President Obama and his potential successor, Clinton. “Those talking points originated from the intelligence community,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in November, adding that the only editing by the White House or the State Department was to change the word “consulate” to “diplomatic facility.” The emails prove him wrong. Significant edits to the talking points were discussed at the White House the day before Rice’s appearance on five Sunday shows, said the official familiar with Nuland’s thinking, who added that she did not attend the meeting. As I wrote yesterday (“Why Benghazi is a Blow to Obama and Clinton”), Obama has earned the trust of most Americans but credibility is a fragile thing.
Democratic strategists and former Clinton aides interviewed about whether the testimony this week from three State Department officials could prove politically damaging blamed right-wing groups for stirring up controversy, even as new information came out suggesting political motivation behind downplaing the terrorist links to the attack. Some of the defenses sounded reminiscent of Clinton’s own famed allegations of a “right-wing conspiracy” in the late-1990s after reports her husband had an affair with Monica Lewinsky.
“It will probably help some right-wing organization build their direct mail list,” said former Clinton campaign adviser Ann Lewis. “Do I think it will change what people think about Hillary Clinton? I think at this point the American public has good perspective on who Hillary Clinton is.”
Asked what political advice he would give Clinton if she were running in 2016, longtime Clinton strategist Paul Begala said her testimony to Congress in January serves her well.
“I think the way she has dealt with this has been admirable. And Republicans are treading awfully close to the tin foil hat,” said Begala.
Was all this incompetence? Or was it politics disguised as the fog of war? Who called these shots and made these decisions? Who decided to do nothing?
From the day of the attack until this week, the White House spin was too clever by half. In the weeks and months after the attack White House spokesmen said they were investigating the story, an internal review was under way. When the story blew open again, last week, they said it was too far in the past: “Benghazi happened a long time ago.” Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, really said that.
Think of that. They can’t give answers when the story’s fresh because it just happened, they’re looking into it. Eight months later they don’t have anything to say because it all happened so long ago.
Think of how low your opinion of the American people has to be to think you can get away, forever, with that.
Should Clinton run for and win her party’s nomination for president in 2016 without her role in the Benghazi scandal having been thoroughly litigated in the primaries – where the stakes are far lower and the voters more forgiving – it will reemerge as a general election issue. The Republican nominee would be negligent to not bring up that scandal, her role in it, and whether or not that episode reflects poorly on her judgment as a surveyor of the nation’s security threats…
Clinton has little to fear from her fellow Democrats who may want to throw their hat into the 2016 ring, but she has a lot to gain from their participation in the process. The vetting of potentially damaging issues that will come from a protracted campaign and the ensuing debates would do much to strengthen Clinton’s formidability in the general election. A short campaign that does not extend beyond the early primary states would leave Clinton vulnerable to withering attacks on her competence from the GOP’s eventual nominee.
Benghazi gives Clinton reason to invite her fellow Democrats to challenge her in 2016. The real question then becomes, will her fellow Democrats – who are unlikely to prevail – sacrifice their time, political clout, privacy, and fundraising prowess just to aid Clinton in her quest to succeed Obama in the Oval Office?
Aspin resigned over Black Hawk Down. The same precedent should have applied apply to Mrs. Clinton. To date, no one has ultimately taken responsibility for Benghazi.
My office is currently seeking out the witnesses and survivors of Benghazi to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. To date, the Obama administration has refused to let them testify.
Too many questions remain unanswered. Now, there are too many new questions. The evidence we had in January already suggested that Mrs. Clinton ignored repeated requests for more security in Benghazi. The new evidence we have today — and that continues to mount — suggests that at the very least, Mrs. Clinton should never hold high office again.
Via Greg Hengler.