Congressional investigators finally got Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before their panel to ask for answers they long wanted to hear. What did you know? When did you know it? Who did what and when? She turned the tables on them.
In fact, from that table out in front of the high panel of senators, the singular table behind which she faced a group of senators, she dominated them. It was quite a spectacle.
Here’s how Thomas Sowell saw it.
An old-time trial lawyer once said, “When your case is weak, shout louder!”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shouted louder when asked about the Obama administration’s story last fall that the September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. ambassador’s quarters in Benghazi was due to an anti-Islamic video that someone in the United States had put on the Internet, and thereby provoked a protest that escalated into violence.
She shouted: “We had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?”
Students of propaganda may admire the skill with which she misdirected people’s attention. But those of us who are still old-fashioned enough to think that the truth matters cannot applaud her success.
Let’s go back to square one.
After the attack on the American ambassador’s quarters in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, the Obama administration immediately blamed it on the anti-Islamic video.
Moreover, this version of what happened was not just a passing remark. It was a story that the administration kept repeating insistently. U.N. ambassador Susan Rice repeated that story on five different television talk shows on the same Sunday. President Obama himself repeated the same story at the United Nations. The man who put the anti-Islamic video on the Internet was arrested for a parole violation, and this created more media coverage to keep attention on this theme.
“What difference, at this point, does it make?” Secretary Clinton now asks. What difference did it make at the time?
Obviously the Obama administration thought it made a difference, with an election coming up. Prior to the attack, the administration’s political theme was that Barack Obama had killed Osama bin Laden (with an assist from the Navy SEALs) and vanquished al-Qaeda, and was now in the process of putting the terrorist threat behind us.
To have the attack in Benghazi be seen as a terrorist attack — and a devastating one — would have ruined this picture, with an election coming up.
The key question that remains unanswered to this day is: What speck of evidence is there that the attack in Benghazi was due to the much-discussed video or that there was ever any protest demonstration outside the ambassador’s quarters?
If there is no evidence whatever, then the whole attempt to say that a protest over a video escalated into an attack was a deliberate hoax by people who knew better.
The senators, or some of them anyway, tried to ferret this out. But some didn’t, and even those who did were shut down by Sec. Clinton’s manipulation of the hearing.
Robert George picks up on Sowell’s comments. And asks his own good questions.
Thomas Sowell tells it like it is on Benghazi-gate. But Professor Sowell is a conservative and a Republican. Where are the voices of our liberal and Democratic friends and fellow citizens? Why the lack of curiosity about critical questions of governmental responsibility and accountability? Why the silence?
For heaven’s sake, an American ambassador and three other Americans were brutally murdered by terrorists (terrorists who appear to have links to Al Qaeda). This is a serious business, not a minor political dust up in which partisans can be excused for circling the wagons.
Why have so many on the liberal side of the political spectrum praised Secretary of State Clinton’s theatrical performance before the Senate committee, rather than damning her appalling evasions of the central questions? Why are so few–indeed, none, so far as I am aware (but someone please correct me if I am wrong)–demanding that President Obama tell the public when he became aware of the fact that the murders of Ambassador Stevens and the others were premeditated attacks by a terrorist unit, not (as he and others in the administration stated or implied for nearly a month) acts of spontaneous violence by a mob enflamed by an anti-Islamic film. Where is the Democratic “Howard Baker”?
Is there no one left in the party of Franklin Roosevelt and Adlai Stevenson, the party of my grandparents and parents—the party to which I myself once gave allegiance—with the integrity and courage to demand answers to the key questions: What did the President know and when he know it?
If it is only conservatives and Republicans demanding answers, they will be dismissed as partisans simply trying to harm their political opponents—and the questions will go unanswered. No one will be held accountable for the falsifications and deceptions that went on for weeks in the run up to a national election. If the public good is to be served—and if we are to deter government misconduct of this nature in the future—it is critical that demands for accountability be bipartisan. Someone must be willing to break the (in this case blue) wall of silence. Someone on the Democratic side must speak.
As Sowell concludes:
Once the September 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi is seen for what it was — a highly coordinated and highly successful operation by terrorists who were said to have been vanquished — that calls into question the Obama administration’s Middle East foreign policy.
That is why it still matters.
Besides the fact that truth always does.