Why Benghazi Matters

The Obama administration hasn't told the whole story about what happened at the consulate.

Libyan military guards check one of the U.S. Consulate's burnt out buildings in Benghazi, Libya.
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Jason Chaffetz is a Republican Representative from Utah and member of the House Oversight Committee.

Imagine if the search for the Boston Marathon bombers had turned up nothing. No suspects. No arrests. No answers. No progress. Would we look back less than a year later and say, as the White House did last week on Benghazi, "That happened a long time ago." 

The search for justice in the case of the murdered Americans in Benghazi is every bit as relevant and important as it is for the murdered Boston Marathon victims. But in the Benghazi case, the intensity of the attack was amplified by the failure of the U.S. government to protect our own people on the ground.

What difference, at this point, does Benghazi make? Ask one of the thousands of State Department employees who work at one of the hundreds of U.S. embassies and consulates around the world if they think their security is still a relevant issue. Ask the victims who were targeted in those attacks how they feel about a government that left them to die. 

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Except you can’t ask them. Because even more appalling than the government’s refusal to provide adequate security before the attack or to provide available resources during the attack is the failure to provide answers after the attack. Eight months after our own ambassador was murdered and we were told the cause was a YouTube video, we still can’t get a straight answer out of the Obama Administration. 

Repeated attempts by Congress to request the identities of the witnesses were ignored. Relevant documents – even unclassified ones – were withheld or subject to in-camera review. The State Department dragged its feet in providing a process by which brave witnesses could legally consult with attorneys. Names of hospitalized attack victims were changed by the State Department. 

All the while, the administration claims there is nothing to see here. Just last week, President Obama told the media he was "not familiar" with recent developments in the case, including allegations that witnesses were being intimidated from testifying.

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Clearly, there is more to this story than meets the eye. Yet many would have us turn a blind eye to the incident simply because eight months is "a long time ago." 

Benghazi matters. Not just because Americans were murdered. Not just because terrorists attacked a U.S. consulate. But because the White House and the State Department have engaged in misdirection at the highest levels to cover up whatever happened there. It’s not too late to learn the truth. Whether it takes eight months or eight years, we will keep pressing for answers until we know what happened.