Benghazi Does Make a Difference, Secretary Clinton

What Hillary Clinton and the State Department said then about the Benghazi terrorist attack matters, and what they are saying now matters, too.


In her appearance Wednesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was part Bette Davis, part Jack Nicholson, and wholly unbelievable.

Clinton made out as though she were somehow the victim while answering questions about what the administration knew and when as four Americans including the U.S. ambassador were horribly, brutally murdered last fall in Benghazi, Libya. At least that's the way her friends and allies played it up when she was done, especially her supposed "victory" in her verbal joust with Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson.

"With all respect, the fact is we have four dead Americans," she said to the GOP lawmaker. "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," she added, doing her best to impersonate Nicholson in A Few Good Men.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Congress.]

And then the big money question, fired off with the resolve of a cannon aimed straight at the evening news: "What difference at this point does this make?"

Well, Mrs. Clinton, since you don't seem to know, the fact is it makes a lot of difference. The attack, you may not recall, happened at a time just before last November's election at a point when all the polls were showing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney starting to gain on your boss, President Barack Obama. The night of the attack Romney made some pretty strong statements that suggested your administration—and your State Department—didn't really know what was going in Libya (or, for that matter in Egypt, where the U.S. embassy compound had also been attacked).

Your administration, Mrs. Clinton, as well as the Obama campaign responded that Romney didn't know what he was talking about, was out of bounds in his comments, and was clearly not prepared to be president. In the terms of a communications plan, your administration distributed the talking points, they were picked up by the media, and repeated ad nauseum until the proverbial cows came home.

[Check out our editorial cartoons on President Obama.]

You, the president, your embassy, Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, and other officials blamed the riots in Libya and Egypt on some poorly edited YouTube video few people had ever seen, calling them "spontaneous."

The fact is you and your administration did not want, that close to a national election, anyone asking serious questions about whether what happened in Benghazi was a planned terrorist attack, what—if anything—the United States intelligence community might have known about it before hand, and if they didn't, why they didn't. You and your fellow Democrats wanted the issue to go away lest it alter the outcome of the upcoming election.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Democratic Party.]

As much as the president may have been offended by the suggestion in his second debate with Governor Romney, the facts as they stand now suggest that senior people in your administration, Madame Secretary, may have been playing politics with national security. Someone clearly is not telling the truth, is not being completely candid about what happened that night, why no one was allowed to go to the aid of Ambassador Stephens and the other men trapped in the so-called "safe house," who gave the order telling everyone to stay away, and why.

Why does it matter? Almost a decade ago another president made reference to a report received from British intelligence during a State of the Union address. What the president said, what he actually said, was in fact true—as has been proven by subsequent inquires. Nevertheless members of your party used the statement to justify the claim that he "lied us into war," as though the truth somehow mattered.

[Read the U.S. News Debate: Will the Benghazi Attacks Tarnish Hillary Clinton's Legacy as Secretary of State?]

Back then, to some people, it did. And to some people it still matters today—and the simple fact is that your administration and your State Department didn't tell the truth about Benghazi right after it happened and many people doubt that you are telling the truth now.

This is why, since you don't seem to have figured it out, what you and your department said then matters and what you and your department are saying now matters too. If you can't see that then you need new glasses because the reason people are asking you questions about this is right there in front of your face.

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