Oliver North

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration is changing the guard. Minutes after the president retook the oath of office, he formally submitted nominations for his new secretary of state, secretary of defense and CIA director. Two days later, remnants of red, white and blue inaugural bunting, bleachers and security fences were still up at the U.S. Capitol and along Pennsylvania Avenue when Congress came back to "work." Temporary barricades, snow fence, partially disassembled Jumbotrons and hundreds of miles of cables and wires -- the detritus of "the longest inaugural parade in history" -- didn't deter our elected representatives from "investigating" the Sept. 11, 2012, murders of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, and conducting "hard-hitting, fact-finding" confirmation hearings for the new guardians of our national security.

Print pundits, talking heads and bloggers lined up to explain how members of relevant committees in our House of Representatives -- and even the Democratic-controlled Senate -- would grill Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and finally get to the bottom of what happened in Benghazi. Washington-watchers and other navel gazers predicted that Sen. John Kerry would be tested about his false congressional testimony in 1971, when he accused those of us who served in Vietnam of routinely committing atrocities -- murder, rape, pillage and ravaging South Vietnam "in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan."

Nothing of the sort occurred. The Clinton and Kerry hearings were little more than poorly scripted farce. They produced little in the way of new information -- no plans for making us safer, no fact finding, no apologies and no indication that anyone will be held accountable for incompetence, misfeasance or malfeasance in managing our affairs of state.

After telling the committees that she was responsible for protecting American citizens, diplomats and interests around the world, Clinton sought to mitigate any culpability for what happened last September -- or last week. She explained that we were "woefully unprepared" and "surprised" by the bloody tumult in the Middle East and Africa. "When I was here four years ago, testifying for my confirmation, I don't think anybody thought that Mubarak would be gone (or that) Gadhafi would be gone." She also pointed out how busy she has been -- even before catching the flu, suffering a concussion and having to recover from a blood clot. When asked why she hadn't seen messages warning about deteriorating security in Libya, she pointed out that there simply wasn't enough time to read all the cables from overseas flooding into her Foggy Bottom office. "They are all addressed to me," she said.

Oliver North

Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.