|Benghazi -- 'What difference, at this point, does it make?"
By Mark Alexander
Watergate and Benghazi?
Both are place names, neither of which indicates anything about what happened there. But both are case studies in how senior White House officials endeavored to deceive the American people by fabricating politically motivated scripts to protect the upcoming re-election campaigns of sitting presidents.
In 1972, Richard Nixon did not know about the burglary at DNC headquarters in the Watergate office complex. However, Nixon did know about his White House staff efforts to cover it up.
Likewise, on the evening of September 11th, 2012, the 11th anniversary of the al-Qaida attack on our country, Barack Hussein Obama probably did not know that al-Qaida-linked terrorists were responsible for the murders in Benghazi of our ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, his aide Sean Smith, and two diplomatic security officers, former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.
It is plausible that, in a conversation between Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the night of the Benghazi attack -- while the assault was still ongoing -- both might have assumed this was a local mob's spontaneous response to a crude web video, "Innocence of Muslims," which insulted the Islamic Prophet Mohammad and spawned protests in neighboring Egypt.
However, we do know that two hours before her conversation with Obama, CIA Deputy Chief of Station Gregory Hicks called Clinton from Tripoli, and advised her of the attack, and told other State Department officials the attackers were al-Qaida.
Immediately after her conversation with Obama, Clinton issued a press release asserting that the attack was in response to the video.
In that release, Clinton said, "Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind."
Notably, at the time of that press release, the CIA and the Department of Defense were certain the attack was a well-organized terrorist assault. In fact, early the next morning, even Clinton's top aide, Beth Jones, asserted that the attack was a well-organized assault by al-Qaida affiliate Ansar al-Sharia, one clearly intended to kidnap or kill Stevens.
And from a historical perspective, why would Clinton and Obama assume anything other than a terrorist attack? Before Stevens, five U.S. ambassadors had been murdered while in office -- all by terrorist groups. Notably, no ambassador had been killed since 1978, when Jimmy Carter's ambassador to Afghanistan was murdered by Islamic extremists. Then, the State Department labeled his murder a "significant terrorist incident." In fact, all six ambassadors murdered while in office were killed by terrorist groups.
But on 12 September, Obama paraphrased the Clinton press release in a live press briefing, stating: "Since our founding the United States has been a nation which respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others." In other words, avoiding the specter of a significant "policy failure," Obama chose to cast the assault in terms of his political "tolerance and diversity" agenda.
Obama and Clinton were wrong about their September 11th assessment of the attack, but clearly, the only plausible explanation for why they propagated that fallacious assessment over the next two weeks -- hoping it would stick despite the plethora of evidence indicating the attack was al-Qaida and that there was no "spontaneous protest" over a video -- was political expedience.
Five days before Benghazi, Obama and his Secretary of State wannabe, John Kerry, were center-stage at the Democratic National Convention. Obama declared to his national audience of adoring sycophants, "Al-Qaida is on the path to defeat and Osama bin Laden is dead." Here, Obama was playing up his faux "leader and statesman" credentials as key justification for his re-election bid, given that his "economic recovery plan" was an abysmal failure, as were his other domestic policies.
Kerry bolstered Obama's statesmanship façade with a reference to Libya: "Today without a single American casually, Moammar Gadhafi is gone and the people of Libya are free."
Five days later, four Americans, including a U.S. ambassador, were murdered in Libya by Islamic terrorists, who were part of the rapidly regenerating al-Qaida network that Obama insisted was defunct.
On 13 September, Clinton reasserted, "there is no justification, none at all, for responding to this video with violence."
On 14 September, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney insisted, "These protests were in reaction to a video. We have no information to suggest that it was a preplanned attack." This was a bald-faced lie.
Also on the 14th, over the bodies of the four dead Americans and in front of their families, Clinton audaciously condemned the "rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful Internet video that we have nothing to do with."
That same afternoon, top Obama aide Ben Rhodes sent his now-infamous "PREP CALL with Susan" e-mail to arrange a high-level briefing for Ambassador Susan Rice, who was scheduled to make the rounds on five Sunday news shows two days later to explain why four Americans were murdered in Benghazi. Given that the attack resulted in the death of one of her ambassadors, Secretary of State Clinton was naturally asked by the networks to make those appearances, but she passed the buck to Rice for political cover.
The two key stated goals in that briefing were, "To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy," and "To reinforce the President and Administration's strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges."
On 16 September, Rice repeated the video explanation five times. Rice was asked by NBC why Clinton was not making these appearances, and she responded that Clinton "had an incredibly gruelling week." (This excuse, in and of itself, should disqualify Hillary Clinton from ever serving as this nation's commander in chief.)
Seven weeks later, amid emerging questions about the veracity of the Benghazi talking points that was too little too late, and Obama is re-elected, having faced virtually no national media challenge to his foreign policy failures and his platform lie that he had defeated al-Qaida.
From that time, until the Obama administration was forced to release Rhodes' email last week under a Freedom of Information Act request by Judicial Watch, the White House "dirty tricks" team endeavored to conceal that email in a well-organized cover-up of the Benghazi cover-up.
That damning email was the "last straw" for House Speaker John Boehner, and the catalyst for scheduling a vote to establish a Select Committee to investigate the Benghazi cover-up, under the able Chairmanship of Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), a former federal prosecutor appointed by Bill Clinton. Gowdy will oversee the accumulation of relevant testimony from previous hearings, and seek answers to important questions, which have, to this point, not been compiled in one forum.
So in regard to Benghazi, to borrow Hillary Clinton's quote, "What difference, at this point, does it make?"
The answer is, the difference between the litany of "BIG Lies," which have become Obama's trademark, and Truth.
The House Select Committee will ask legitimate questions about why more was not done to protect our officials in Libya prior to that fateful night. The answer will probably be bureaucratic ineptitude.
They will ask why SpecOps were not sent in to rescue the Americans, though I will side with military commanders in this case who were concerned that, logistically, any attempt at rescue would likely have resulted in substantially greater loss of life. (See Blackhawk Down.)
They will ask where Obama and Clinton were while the attack was ongoing and they knew full well Ambassador Stevens was missing. We now know that Obama was not in the White House "situation room" looking "presidential" for photo ops, as he was the night our Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden. Benghazi photos would not have played well against his "al-Qaida on the run" campaign backdrop.
All politics aside, the American people have a right to know where their commander in chief was during an hours-long assault on one of our embassies.
But there are three questions the committee will also ask, which are the blockbusters. One would certainly hope that Gowdy would ensure the answers to these questions are not obscured in the minutiae of the other inquiries.
First, who altered the Benghazi talking points to give Obama political cover for his re-election campaign?
Second, who authorized the cover-up of the Rhodes email?
And the third question? Sen. Howard Baker asked it during the Watergate investigation: "What did the president know and when did he know it?" When it became clear that Nixon had knowledge of the politically motivated cover-up to protect his re-election campaign, he had the decency to resign rather than put the nation through an impeachment trial.
So, what did Obama know, and when did he know it?
Notably, there were no Americans murdered at the Watergate hotel. There, only the truth was slain. So the answers to these last three questions are very important.
To paraphrase a radical leftist chant about Obama's predecessor, I am quite certain that, for purely political reasons, Clinton and Obama lied after our people died -- and that is not an excusable offense.
Of course, Obama's co-conspirators will attempt to marginalize the investigation in hopes of not having to answer that third question.
Obama press secretary Jay Carney insists, "This is a conspiracy theory in search of a conspiracy and it has clearly been that for so long now that I have lost track of the number of conspiracies that are falling flat." As to whether the administration will cooperate with the investigation, Carney parsed his answer: "We have always cooperated with legitimate oversight and will continue to do so. [This investigation] is clearly designed to politicize what was a tragedy..."
For the record, that is precisely what the Obama administration did, and the truth belies Obama's oft-repeated lie, "This is the most transparent administration in history."
As for the political implications of this investigation, it will probably not have much impact on the 2014 midterm elections, though Democrats will portray the Benghazi investigation as a "phony scandal" and hope it becomes a side show distraction from Obama's colossal economic, health care and foreign policy failures, which, by extension, are nooses around their own necks.
However, the cover up will have a significant impact on Hillary Clinton's presidential aspirations in 2016 -- her abject failure as secretary of state has not been priced into her political stock price yet. Clinton is a walking "failure of policy."
And a couple of footnotes...
Republicans should take great care not to overplay their hand in this investigation, or the results could be similar to those that followed the 1998 impeachment trial of Bill Clinton, when the Democrats had net gains in the House after the midterm election.
I was struck by this recent assessment from Obama: "The notion that this is some spontaneous uprising ... is belied by all the evidence of well organized, trained, armed..." In this instance, he was referring Ukrainian violence.
In his book The Audacity of Hope, Obama wrote, "In the wake of 9/11, my meetings with [Muslims in America] have a more urgent quality ... I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction." In Benghazi, where Obama attempted to cover up the truth rather than own it, he may have stood with Muslims one time too many.
Mark Alexander is the executive editor of the Patriot Post.