Unraveling Benghazi Bungle About More Than Politics

Bob Barr

5/7/2014 11:47:00 AM - Bob Barr

The Obama Administration’s attitude toward the 9/11/12 attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya is summarized in one phrase:“Dude, this was two years ago.” This was the disgracefully glib response former National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor gave to FOX News after being pressed on his role in editing talking points to help the Obama Administration save face, rather than address questions surrounding the most serious attack on an American diplomatic mission since the takeover of the U.S. embassy compound in Tehran in 1979.

Like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who bellowed, “What difference, at this point, does it make?” during a Senate committee hearing on Benghazi in 2013, Vietor revealed how little this President cares about finding the truth about the deaths of four American citizens, including a U.S. Ambassador.

Fortunately, Republicans have not relented in efforts to break down Obama’s stonewalling and downright lies. Earlier this week, House Majority Leader John Boehner appointed Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) to chair a new special House panel to finally bring to light the facts before, during and after that deadly attack.

Most pundits and media have focused on the ethical and perhaps legal errors committed by the Administration in its attempts to camouflage its own incompetence. Unraveling the “Benghazi Bungle,” however, is about far more than politics or even lying; ; it is crucial to the national security of the United States.

It is easy to view terrorists in the Middle East as simple criminals who plot crude ways to harass, attack and kill innocent civilians. In fact, while their methods can sometimes appear primitive, they are extremely adaptable and adept at employing news and social media to further their goals. Nowhere is this more evident than in how terrorist groups like al-Qaeda study our government’s response -- or lack thereof -- to incidents like Benghazi.

Consider the August 20, 1998 cruise missile attack ordered by then-President Bill Clinton on the al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum, Sudan. The Administration claimed erroneously the plant was targeted because it had links to al Qaeda, and was being used to manufacture ingredients for VX nerve gas. More than just the embarrassment and human tragedy of attacking a pharmaceutical plant that produced life-saving medicine, the mistaken operation attack revealed to the world that the Clinton Administration’s Department of Defense was either incompetent in not possessing sufficient intelligence to distinguish between a civilian pharmaceutical plant and a terrorist operation; or – just as damning – it had good intelligence but chose to ignore it. In either event, the botched operation did not go unnoticed by al-Qaeda and others.

The Obama Administration’s frequent obstruction of, and disdain for Benghazi investigations, echoed by Democrats in Congress and liberals in the mainstream media, serves to hamper our ability to take steps to avoid a repeat of such a tragedy.

Amazingly -- and sadly -- the same series of tragic mistakes made leading to, during, and after the Benghazi Bungle occurred 33 years before in Iran. What was it that George Santayana warned us – “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it?”

The special House panel to investigate Benghazi has a crucial mission to obtain the truth, and set in motion steps to ensure the safety of American personnel and assets overseas. However, to do so it must eschew any political overtones that could jeopardize the integrity and efficacy of the investigation. Democrats will look for any opportunity to undermine the investigation, and spin their findings to protect Obama and Mrs. Clinton.

President Obama, and advisors like Vietor, Clinton, and Susan Rice, can continue to dismiss their roles in the Benghazi attack; but failing to hold anyone accountable -- including themselves -- and continuing to stymie investigations, sends a clear message to terrorists that our government cares more about the public image of its decision-makers than defending against and preventing future attacks. It is a message that invites future attacks.

So yes, Dude, it matters.