The buck stops over there, at State. Sort of:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the bucks stops with her when it comes to who is blame for a deadly assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi."I take responsibility" for what happened on September 11, Clinton said in an interview with CNN's Elise Labott soon after arriving in Lima, Peru for a visit. The interview, one of a series given to U.S. television networks Monday night, were the first she has given about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Clinton insisted President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are not involved in security decisions, Clinton said."I want to avoid some kind of political gotcha," she added, noting that it is close to the election.
Very interesting. Fully thirty-five days after the attack -- but before any official inquiry has been completed -- the Secretary of State plays the 'blame me' card. I can't help but wonder if Biden's debate flub may have forced her hand, now that the USS Obama is taking on more water over this. Did Clinton walk in front of the bus on her own volition, or was she "encouraged" to do so? Interestingly, she raises the topic of the election on her own, going out of her way to wave the wand of absolution over the heads of the two men fighting to get re-elected. She also goes on to point at mistakes made by her underlings, which conveniently hands The One something of a get-out-of-jail-free card: "My underling's underlings screwed up, and for that, we all take responsibility." If we are to take Hillary's Obama-excusing mea culpa at face value, the Secretary of State (who, incidentally, was planning to leave her post after the election anyway) is responsible for the egregiously poor security at our Benghazi consulate to begin with, the repeated denials of reinforcements -- even in the face of urgent and demonstrable need -- as well as the decisions to actually reduce the thin security presence. In other words, virtually everything leading up to the 9/11 terrorist attack.
But is Hillary also responsible for the administration's false narratives about what prompted the deadly raid? Did she send Susan Rice out onto the Sunday chat show circuit to make assertions that had been inoperative (based on existing intelligence) for days? Did she go to bed knowing the raid was underway, then blow off immediate intelligence briefings and national security meetings in favor of politicking? Did she decline to characterize the ambush as a terrorist attack for several weeks, suggesting that it was somehow connected to an illusory protest over an obscure and irrelevant YouTube clip -- both in televised interviews and during a speech to the United Nations? No, those were the actions of the President of the United States, the man who bears ultimate responsiblity for the actions of our government's executive branch. Remember, too, that it was this president who unilaterally authorized and sustained the Libya adventure in the first place. It seems his intention was to lead a "clean" victory (from behind, of course), put a notch in his 'foreign policy president' belt, then let others manage the fallout. One wonders if the deteriorating security situation in Libya was generally an element of his daily intelligence briefings -- more than half of which he's skipped, but that he supposedly reads every morning. Does anyone believe that the White House really knew zero about this, and is therefore immune from all culpability? And if they really were that surpassingly ignorant, what does that say about the 'foreign policy president's' leadership?
I once again return to Jennifer Rubin's list of questions on Benghazi, which remain unanswered. Whether it's Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton doing the explaining, the American people deserve an explanation -- both of the disastrous lead-up to the massacre, and of the subsequent cover up. At the very least, people like Pat Smith are entitled to real answers from real leaders, whomever those may be.
UPDATE - Senators McCain, Graham, and Ayotte of the Armed Services committee weigh in:
We have just learned that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has claimed full responsibility for any failure to secure our people and our Consulate in Benghazi prior to the attack of September 11, 2012. This is a laudable gesture, especially when the White House is trying to avoid any responsibility whatsoever. However, we must remember that the events of September 11 were preceded by an escalating pattern of attacks this year in Benghazi, including a bomb that was thrown into our Consulate in April, another explosive device that was detonated outside of our Consulate in June, and an assassination attempt on the British Ambassador. If the President was truly not aware of this rising threat level in Benghazi, then we have lost confidence in his national security team, whose responsibility it is to keep the President informed.
But if the President was aware of these earlier attacks in Benghazi prior to the events of September 11, 2012, then he bears full responsibility for any security failures that occurred. The security of Americans serving our nation everywhere in the world is ultimately the job of the Commander-in-Chief. The buck stops there. Furthermore, there is the separate issue of the insistence by members of the Administration, including the President himself, that the attack in Benghazi was the result of a spontaneous demonstration triggered by a hateful video, long after it had become clear that the real cause was a terrorist attack. The President also bears responsibility for this portrayal of the attack, and we continue to believe that the American people deserve to know why the Administration acted as it did.
UPDATE II - Flashback, via Buzzfeed. Hillary in 2008: The buck stops in the Oval Office.
UPDATE III - Silence:
Pool: "Reporter: 'Is Hillary to blame for Benghazi?' Obama: Silence. Kept walking."— HuffPost Politics (@HuffPostPol) October 16, 2012