Secretary Clinton should be under a cloud for failing to prevent the deaths of these Americans and for misleading the nation afterwards. Instead, she is lofted skyward with talk of 2016. A just-released Senate report slams the State Department for ignoring “flashing red” reports of increasing al Qaeda activity in that part of Libya. Oh well, she failed at a key aspect of her job — nothing to see here.
The most opprobrium though belongs to the president. As the new Senate report makes absolutely clear, the White House knew within hours of the Benghazi attack that it was a terror attack and not a protest that became violent. “There was never any doubt among key officials . . . that the attack in Benghazi was an act of terrorism. For example, two emails from the State Department Diplomatic Security Operations Center on the day of the attack, September 11, and the day after, September 12, 2012, characterized the attack as an ‘initial terrorism incident’ and as a ‘terrorist event.’” Yet when the president appeared on 60 Minutes he said it was “too early” to know whether it was a terror attack. On September 18, he said that “extremists and terrorists used this [the video] as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies, including the consulate in Libya.”
The president persisted in this lie personally and through his surrogates for weeks, even as the contrary evidence became a tsunami. The lies were Nixonian in audacity, Johnsonian in scope. The president is right about one thing — it isn’t Susan Rice who should take the fall.