The Benghazi Select Committee is revealing new, illuminating information, despite recalcitrance by Democrats in Congress, who have been singing the refrain of “politicization” for months. Their deflection leaves the heart of the matter unresolved: Why was our diplomatic personnel left unprotected?
Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), leading the cavalry charge, is spearheading a comprehensive Congressional investigation. Constitutional mandates authorize Congress, the people’s branch of the United States government, to hold the executive branch accountable for perceived negligence or incompetence.
Clearly, there was a gross security failure in Benghazi on that fateful day, September 11, 2012. For Congress to simply let the State Department off the hook would be a dereliction of duty.
Hillary Clinton’s blatant strawmen arguments stand as an impediment to this investigation. In a testy exchange between Rep. Leon Acton Westmoreland and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, her calculated strategy reared its ugly head.
“No one ever came to me and said shut down our compound in Benghazi,” retorted Clinton. The ambiguous phrase “no one” is a symptom of standard Clintonian evasion. Functionally, it is a throw-away phrase. This statement means nothing at all; it’s word salad, filler language manifested as a defense mechanism.
“No one ever came to me and said shut down our compound in Benghazi."
Hillary Clinton's straw-man argument
The congressman from Georgia bluntly undercut the absurdity of Clinton’s obfuscation. “I’m not saying shut it down. I’m saying protect it,” asserted Westmoreland.
Throughout the hearing, Clinton has suggested that diplomatic envoys assume the responsibility of risk while they serve their country abroad –effectively a non-answer.
Of course, the U.S. should have intelligence assets on the ground, especially in regions of turmoil. A robust U.S. presence is necessary to secure geopolitical interests and protect allied forces. Clinton implies that Congressional criticism of security procedures in Libya amounts to a call to retreat.
This bizarre bait-and-switch is far outside the bounds of logical validity; diplomatic personnel must be protected with the full force of the State Department and Defense Department. That is what the hearing is about.
Nobody in their right mind is suggesting a complete withdrawal of our diplomatic envoys.
But then ...
Update: 12:00 pm PST
Rep. Martha Roby (R-SC) grilled Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on her apparent lack of accountability.
In the revealing exchange, Clinton abnegates responsibility for members of the State Dept under her watch, while claiming that she competently lead the department with full knowledge of all its inner workings
Clinton’s own departmental employees suggest that the secretary withdrew her attention from Benghazi and remained oblivious to the developing security threats to the U.S. embassy there.
Clinton brushed off the records, claiming that the staffers in question are not her own, and a result they may have been mistaken.
Roby: Not only do the records show your drop in interest in Benghazi, it was even noticed by your own staff. I want to point this out to you -- I say this, because I want to point you to an e-mail in early February 2012, between two staffers at your Libya desk that says, you didn't know whether we still even had a presence in Benghazi.
Let's not use my words. Let's use theirs. This can be found at tab 31. The e-mail says -- and it is dated February 9, 2012. One writes to the other about an encounter that she had with you.
Quote, "Also, the secretary also asked last week if we still have a presence in Benghazi. I think she would be upset to hear, yes, we do. But because we don't have enough security, they are on lockdown," end quote…
Clinton: Well, could -- could you tell me who is -- who are the names on this e-mail that you're talking about?
Roby: Sure. I can. Turn to tab 31. You have a book in front of you. It is Alice Abdallah and I'm going to pronounce it wrong, Enya Sodarais (ph)? Is that correct?
Clinton: They were not on my staff. I'm not in any way contradicting what they think they heard or what they heard somebody say. But the people that I know...
Roby: Can you tell me who they were if they were not on your staff?
Clinton: They were not on my -- they were in the State Department, along with thousands of other people. They were not part of the secretary staff. But I get what you're saying, Congresswoman.
Roby: I want to drill down on the security issue. But I also want to say it's frustrating for us here on this panel asking these questions to hear you in your opening statement talk about the responsibility you took for all 70 plus thousand employees, yet I read you an e-mail between two of those employees and it seems as though you're just kind of brushing it off as not having any knowledge.
Clinton: I'm just saying I have no recollection of it and it doesn't correspond with the facts of what we were doing on a regular basis.
Update: 12:25 pm PST
Rep Jim Jordan grilled Clinton on her blaming a YouTube video:
Background: On the eve of the terrorist attacks against the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, the Obama administration reflexively scapegoated a fringe, purportedly anti-Islam YouTube video called Innocence of Muslims. As U.S. intelligence services in the region ultimately concluded, the attacks were a direct result of a calculated plan organized by al-Qaida affiliated terrorists.The deadly assault was designed to celebrate the anniversary of 9/11 in spectacularly egregious fashion.
The attackers used diesel fuel to set the embassy compound on fire. Ambassador Chris Stevens and a handful of diplomatic security forces consequently died of smoke inhalation. Two days later, on the morning of September 13, 2012, Clinton stated:
Unfortunately, however, over the last 24 hours, we have also seen violence spread elsewhere. Some seek to justify this behavior as a response to inflammatory, despicable material posted on the Internet. As I said earlier today, the United States rejects both the content and the message of that video. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. At our meeting earlier today, my colleague, the foreign minister of Morocco, said that all prophets should be respected because they are all symbols of our humanity, for all humanity.
Clinton failed to properly identify the source of the attack and shifted blame accordingly. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) questioned Clinton about this apparent inconsistency:
Jordan: You just gave a long answer, Madam Secretary, to Ms. Sanchez about what you heard that night, what you're doing. But nowhere in there did you mention a video. You didn't mention a video because there was never a video-inspired protest in Benghazi. There was in Cairo but not in Benghazi.
Victoria Nuland, your spokesperson at the State Department, hours after the attacks said this, "Benghazi has been attacked by militants. In Cairo, police have removed demonstrators."
Benghazi, you got weapons and explosions. Cairo, you got spray paint and rocks.
One hour before the attack in Benghazi, Chris Stevens walks a diplomat to the front gate. The ambassador didn't report a demonstration. He didn't report it because it never happened. An eyewitness in the command center that night on the ground said no protest, no demonstration; two intelligence reports that day, no protest, no demonstration.
The attack starts at 3:42 Eastern time, ends at approximately 11:40 pm that night.
At 4:06, an ops alert goes out across the State Department.
It says this, "Mission under attack, armed men, shots fired, explosions heard."
No mention of video, no mention of a protest, no mention of a demonstration.
But the best evidence is Greg Hicks, the number two guy in Libya, the guy who worked side by side with Ambassador Stevens. He was asked, if there had been a protest, would the ambassador have reported it?
Mr. Hicks's response, "Absolutely."
For there to have been a demonstration on Chris Stevens' front door and him not to have reported it is unbelievable, Mr. Hicks.
He said, secondly, if it had been reported, he would have been out the back door within minutes and there was a back gate.
Everything points to a terrorist attack. We just heard from Mr. Pompeo about the long history of terrorist incidents, terrorist violence in the country.
And yet five days later Susan Rice goes on five TV shows and she says this, "Benghazi was a spontaneous reaction as a consequence of a video," a statement we all know is false. But don't take my word for it. Here's what others have said.
"Rice was off the reservation," off the reservation on five networks, White House worried about the politics. Republicans didn't make those statements. They were made by the people who worked for you in the Near Eastern Affairs bureau, the actual experts on Libya in the State Department.
So if there's no evidence for a video-inspired protest, then where did the false narrative start?
It started with you, Madam Secretary.
At 10:08, on the night of the attack, you released this statement, "Some have sought to justify the vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet."
At 10:08, with no evidence, at 10:08, before the attack is over, at 10:08, when Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty are still on the roof of the annex, fighting for their lives, the official statement of the State Department blames a video.
Update: 1:52 pm PST.
Gowdy Blasts Schiff's Conspiracy Theories
After accusing Benghazi committee members of holding a “prosecution” of Hillary Clinton, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) implied that Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) was intentionally withholding Sidney Blumenthal’s (Clinton attack-hound and ‘semen soaked dress’) email correspondence with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from the public because they would somehow undermine the investigation. Elijah Cummings joined in on this allegation. Gowdy blasted back:
Schiff: Why conceal [Sidney Blumenthal’s]transcripts?
Even if the motion were not in order, you have to power to release them.
Gowdy: I'll tell you why, because I'm not going to release one transcript of someone who knows nothing about Libya by his own admission while people who risk their lives -- you have no interest in their story getting out. You don't want the -- you don't want the 18 D.S. agents, you don't want the CIA agents.
The only transcripts you want released are Ms. Mills and Sidney Blumenthal's. So we'll take all of this up... SCHIFF: And the only person you are interested in asking about during her entire questioning was Sidney Blumenthal. If you're so interested in him, release the transcript. You selectively released his e-mails, they're the only witness you've done that for. So you're asking why are we only ask asking for his transcript?
Gowdy: I'm going to ask the gentleman from California to please do a better job of characterizing. These are not Sidney Blumenthal's e-mails. These are Secretary Clinton's e-mails. And I'll tell you what, if you think you've heard about Sidney Blumenthal so far, wait until the next round.
Update 1:58 pm PST
The Hill reports that President Obama is not watching the Benghazi hearings.
“I don’t believe this hearing was on the president’s morning schedule to watch,” said White House spokesman Eric Schultz.
“Obama attended a meeting in the Oval Office with Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that started shortly after 11 a.m., an hour after the Benghazi hearing began,” Error! Hyperlink reference not valid. The Hill.
President Obama will most likely be briefed on his former Secretary of State’s performance later in the day.
The White House’s suggestion of presidential indifference plays into the Democratic narrative of the Benghazi hearings being a ‘political hatchet job.’
Notably, the FBI continues to investigate Hillary Clinton and her email server.