Let's all hope that Sen. Lindsey Graham's suspicion is correct -- not for the sake of politics, but for the sake of Patricia Smith and Charlie Woods. They, and the American people, deserve the truth. The journey toward facts and accountability resumes tomorrow:
“I think the dam is about to break on Benghazi. We’re going to find a system failure before, during, and after the attacks. We’re going to find political manipulation seven weeks before an election. We’re going to find people asleep at the switch when it comes to the State Department, including Hillary Clinton. The bond that has been broken between those who serve us in harms way and the government they serve is huge — and to me every bit as damaging as Watergate.”
Say what you will about Graham's politics, he's been as dogged and tenacious on Benghazi as anyone on the planet. Tomorrow's hearings will contain dramatic, on-the-record testimony from three State Department officials. These men will tell the truth, despite alleged threats of professional reprisals. They'll testify about the unforgivably lax security measures at the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi leading up to the 9/11 attack, the Washington-based chain of command's paralysis and inaction during the raid, and the administration's intentional scrubbing of public talking points describing the massacre. (For previews of these revelations based on existing reports, read this, this and this). As an additional primer, be sure to check out former Marine Bing West's piece at National Review. It's an insightful glimpse into US military leadership's serious shortcomings during the multi-hour siege. A snippet:
The military did nothing, except send a drone to watch the action. Defense Secretary Panetta later offered the excuse, “You can’t willy-nilly send F-16s there and blow the hell out of place. . . . You have to have good intelligence.” As a civilian, Mr. Panetta probably didn’t know that 99 percent of air sorties over Afghanistan never drop a single bomb. General Dempsey, however, knew it was standard procedure to roar menacingly over the heads of mobs, while not “blowing the hell out of them.” A show of air power does have a deterrent effect and is routinely employed. A mortar shell killed two Americans during the tenth hour of the fight. A mortar tube can be detected from the air. The decision whether to then bomb should have resided with a pilot on-station — not back in Washington. As for the alleged lack of “good intelligence,” three U.S. operations centers were watching real-time video and talking by cell phone with those under attack. Surely that comprises “good intelligence.”
...The integrity of the Pentagon is not in question. The purpose of an After Action is to perform better the next time. Is the public seriously to believe that in ten hoursDempsey and the $600 billion dollar Defense Department could not dispatch one ad hoc rescue team, as our embassy in Tripoli did, or order one fighter jet to scramble? Have our military’s best and brightest lost the capacity to improvise? Clearly, that merits an assessment. Will General Dempsey ask for a review of his own procedures? Do as I say, or as I do? The chairman of the joint chiefs is the only general who can answer that.
The media's attention is at last focused on the terrible events of eight months ago. Average Americans -- to the extent that they hear anything about tomorrow's proceedings -- will consciously or subconsciously make two judgments: First, are the whistle-blowers credible? On that score, read their bios and the official positions they held during last year's attacks. A State Department spokesman pointedly refused to comment on the character or integrity of these men yesterday; it seems the powers-that-be would prefer not to lend them any more credibility, even if it means calling into question sterling reputations. Second, are the questioners just out to score political points? I'd echo Jim Geraghty's plea to Oversight Committee Republicans: Less grandstanding, more fact-finding, please. Ostentatious displays of outrage have their place, but indulging a climate of hyper-politicization during the hearings would be counter-productive. (I tend to believe that Chairman Issa recognizes this). To that end, Hugh Hewitt suggests three lines of questioning for the witnesses. Katie and I will have full coverage of tomorrow's events, beginning at 11:30 am Eastern time.