Diana West

Honestly, did the buck really stop with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Benghazi-gate, or did the buck just stop?

Here's what Clinton said: "I take responsibility. I'm in charge of the State Department's 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts. The president and the vice president wouldn't be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals. They're the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs and make a considered decision."

Stop. Clinton's taken responsibility, she's in charge -- and then she declares that "security professionals" make the decisions? Not only is this a non sequitur, it's nonsense. One thing Americans learned from recent House hearings about the Sept. 11 orchestrated terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya -- which killed four Americans and which President Barack Obama insisted for two weeks was sparked by a YouTube video -- is that the security professional in question, Eric Nordstrom, asked Clinton's State Department for more security and was denied.

Clinton went on to say an internal investigation was under way. And who is leading the investigation? Former Ambassador Thomas Pickering, a noted career diplomat. Part of what he's noted for, however, is sitting on boards of two pro-Tehran groups, the American Iranian Council and the National Iranian American Council, and for meeting with Hamas and promoting negotiations with the Taliban. Perhaps not the most "responsible" choice.

Then again, is "responsibility" Clinton's goal? "What I want to avoid is some kind of political 'gotcha' or blame game," she said. Translation: Taking "responsibility" -- an empty phrase without resigning -- avoids the "blame game" and eliminates the need to air the facts. She continued: "I know that we're very close to an election. I want to just take a step back here and say from my own experience, we are at our best as Americans when we pull together." Translation: I know we're very close to an election, so, as good Americans, shut up already about Benghazi.

The secretary of state took to the airwaves, where CBS brought up U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's five appearances on Sunday talk shows on Sept. 16 to beat the drum that the Benghazi assault began as a "spontaneous protest" over a YouTube video that "spun from there into something much, much more violent." It is now part of the established record that there was no protest outside the consulate in Benghazi, and the U.S. government knew it from the start.

CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan asked Clinton if she approved the message Rice delivered that day.


Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).