With the release of the report by the Select Committee on Benghazi there are a few things that we now know for certain. After an exhaustive review of all the available evidence, the countless interviews of people directly or indirectly involved in the response at the time of the attacks, as well as those involved in the subsequent cover up by the Obama Administration and Hillary Clinton, the indisputable fact is that there was a failure of will by the senior leadership of the Obama Administration.
The Obama Administration’s foreign policy in Libya led by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was a dismal failure. Particularly the decisions by the Secretary of State to pursue a strategy supporting the ouster of Libyan leader Muamar Qaddafi without having any plan in place for what happened after the Libyan strongman was gone; placing trust that the various militia factions would set aside their differences and establish a government in the war torn country; and the administration’s misguided efforts to provide Syrian rebel groups with weaponry using Libya as the go-between. None of which turned out to be in the interests of the United States.
The report also clearly shows that even with the deteriorating situation on the ground in Tripoli and Benghazi, numerous requests for additional security precautions for the diplomatic missions in Libya went unanswered. With the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks approaching, U.S. military forces in the region were not placed on a heightened alert, nor even repositioned to an area where they could respond more quickly if needed.
There simply were no additional security arrangements ordered or provided by the State Department, even though intelligence reports indicated the presence in Libya of groups hostile to the United States and aligned with al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. Not to mention the previous attacks against the diplomatic missions of other countries, and the U.S.’s own Diplomatic Outpost in Benghazi. It was lunacy on a grand scale.
The Select Committee’s report has singled out a number of high level administration officials for criticism, in particular the former Secretary of State. Her inaction on the numerous requests for additional security, in addition to her lack of response on the night of the attacks shows a lack of understanding of the seriousness of the situation. More of a “crossed-fingers” response to the problem - keeping her fingers crossed and hoping for the best.
President Barack Obama and his closest advisors also are criticized for their response, or lack thereof on the night of the attack. While an American diplomatic facility was under attack the president should have been more ‘hands on’, but instead he simply left the problem for others to figure out what to do. Completely disconnected from the life and death situation on the ground in Libya. Several other senior administration and military officials have also come under scrutiny and criticism as well for their part on the night of the September 11, 2012 attack.
The report clearly shows that help could possibly have been sent, including Special Forces troops who were loaded onto an airplane just waiting for the orders to deploy that never came. Those on the ground in Benghazi were left to fend for themselves when help of any kind would have been welcomed, and likely successful in preventing the later loss of lives.
Not having read a single word nor seen any of the evidence uncovered, the minority party have continued their ‘talking points’ that the Select Committee and the report are nothing more than a partisan hit-job by the Republicans in Congress—a narrative that was started by them the day that then Speaker of the House John Boehner directed that the Select Committee on Benghazi to be created.
The reality is that the Benghazi Select Committee listened to countless hours of testimony from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, other senior government and military officials, mid-level bureaucrats, and those on the front lines on the night of the Benghazi attacks. And through it all the minority party on the committee acted out of partisan political interest instead of an interest in finding the truth.
The truth about what happened in Benghazi, which hopefully can help to prevent something similar from ever happening again. As was made abundantly clear on September 11, 2012, the potential costs of inaction are far too high for our men and women serving overseas.
During the thirteen hours that the Benghazi attacks played out, our people on the ground in that Libyan city were abandoned by their leaders in Washington and elsewhere. Apparently those in the chain of command who could have done something to help, all lacked the will to step up and do what was right.
Yet they were quick to fabricate a story about “protests over a YouTube video than spun out of control”, with all of the senior administration officials quickly signing onto this outright deceit and cover up. Or at the least keeping quiet while the administration lied to the American people.
Political consequences be damned, when Americans’ lives are in jeopardy we expect our leaders to do everything they can to help, and to worry about sorting out the politics of it all sometime later. But that’s not been the practice of the current administration, nor of their presumptive nominee to lead the next administration, who has always gauged what the political winds were before making any decision—regardless of whether American lives were at risk.
The American diplomats, the CIA officers, and the members of the military who are serving in dangerous assignments around the world have an interest in the Select Committee finding answers. Answers that may help make those who volunteered to place themselves in harm’s way on behalf of the United States of America just a little more safe in their jobs. And they ask only that they not be abandoned in their time of need.
But sadly they discovered that the one time they made that “three o’clock in the morning phone call,” when the phone rang in Washington, that call went unanswered by anyone in a position to help.
The will to pick up the phone and do the right thing just wasn’t there.