Hillary Clinton’s ‘taking responsibility’ for Libya changes nothing
posted at 10:13 am on October 16, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
It is hard to know what inspired Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to fall on her sword on the subject of Libya on Monday, but fall she did, telling CNN:
I take responsibility. I’m in charge of the State Department’s 60,000-plus people all over the world [at] 275 posts. The president and the vice president wouldn’t be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals. They’re the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs.
In the wake of an attack like this, in the fog of war, there’s always going to be confusion. And I think it is absolutely fair to say that everyone had the same intelligence. Everyone who spoke tried to give the information that they had. As time has gone on, that information has changed. We’ve gotten more detail, but that’s not surprising. That always happens.
What I want to avoid is some kind of political gotcha or blame game.
The final sentence in her prepared remarks was unnecessary. Obviously, her goal in publicly accepting guilt is to deflect blame from the White House.
But her assurances do little to change the narrative, which begins for the president on Sept. 12, 2012, the day after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed four members of the diplomatic corps, including the ambassador. (The timeline, as it has played out, reveals that the State Department was in real-time communication with staff members on the ground in Benghazi. This suggests that the president may have received the dreaded “3 a.m. phone call,” but absent proof, that assumption cannot be made.)
Senior campaign adviser David Axelrod appeared on FOX News Sunday, where he was asked this direct question by host Chris Wallace:
[T]he president made a statement and then he went to a fundraiser or campaign event in Nevada. Question: Before he went to the fundraiser in Nevada, did he meet with his National Security Council to try to sort out the shifting stories? Because State says they never said it was a spontaneous demonstration; Intel did, you are quite right, did. Did he meet with the National Security Council before he went campaigning in Nevada?
Axelrod’s response was a dodge. “Chris,” he said, “I assure you that the president was in contact with all those who had information and responsibility in the national security chain about this incident.”
As Guy Benson at Townhall.com aptly puts it, “Deliberate vagueness, plus ‘in contact with’ weasel words, equals evasion.” Benson also shoots holes in Axelrod’s claim that Obama called the raid an act of terrorism “the day after” it occurred, noting that for the next two full weeks, the White House and its minions continued to insist on the “tale of the tape.”
In the most glaring example of its all-out efforts at damage control, the administration dispatched U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice to appear on Sunday news shows, repeating the claim:
Our current assessment is what happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, prompted by the video.
On Oct. 10, the State Department disavowed Rice’s version of events, insisting that her assessment of what went down was never at any point the conclusion of the State Department.
Following Secretary of State Clinton’s statement yesterday, three top Republicans in the Senate—John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire—released a statement of their own:
If the president was truly not aware of this rising threat level in Benghazi, then we have lost confidence in his national security team, whose responsibility it is to keep the president informed. But if the president was aware of these earlier attacks in Benghazi prior to the events of Sept. 11, 2012, then he bears full responsibility for any security failures that occurred.
Naturally, the mainstream media is echoing the Obama administration’s own pathetic view that Benghazi is being uses as a political football by the GOP and their candidates. The simple truth is if anyone is politicizing the events of Sept. 11, it is the Obama campaign, which clings desperately to the fiction that Obama’s Middle East policy and foreign policy credentials are sound.
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