White House back on the spot with Benghazi

By Dale R. Herspring

For over a year, the Obama administration has done its best to blur the truth about events surrounding the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, in the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012. 

When the consulate was attacked, the Obama administration quickly claimed that it was the result of anti-American protests sweeping across the Middle East. However, the facts suggest that the administration was lying.  In fact, every reporting source made clear that the consulate was attacked by terrorists, not, as the administration claimed, by demonstrators enraged by an anti-Muslim video produced in Los Angeles.

Administration officials pro-mised the survivors of the four who were killed that the culprits would be found and punished. However, an email sent three days after the attack from a White House aide to former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice indicates that the administration has been engaged in a cover up since the attack. What’s more, the investigation into the attack and the administration’s actions is far from over. 

The calling of a Select Com-mittee means that top officials such as Secretary of State John Kerry will testify.

Not only will the committee learn more about President Obama’s foreign policy, but the investigation may also shed more light on then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s involvement. The findings could affect her possible campaign for president.

The attack occurred in the heat of Obama’s re-election campaign. The White House had been saying that al-Qaida was all but defeated. This meant that the events in Benghazi would have to be seen as spontaneous, not a planned terrorist attack.

The reality, however was something else. Observers of the events knew from the beginning that the attack was carefully planned. The embassy knew, the military knew and the State Department knew.   

Outside observers have long been skeptical of the administration’s original position — that the attack had been the work of a mob. The administration tried to play down the importance of the attack. Others maintained that the ensuing scandal was part of a Republican plot to undermine the Obama administration.

For over a year, it appeared that the administration’s obfuscation might succeed. The president vowed to leave no stone unturned in learning what happened and why. However, the administration turned out to be anything but transparent. Several members of Congress as well as committees sought critical documents. They received some documents, but nothing that would embarrass the ad-ministration.

Meanwhile, the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch sought and acquired pertinent documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). One document was an email from Ben Rhodes, an assistant to the president, to the Ms. Rice, outlining her goals for a handful of appearances on Sunday morning talk shows.

In short, she was advised to “reinforce the president and the administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.” She also was to emphasizing the role of a crowd out of control in the attack as opposed to flaws in the president’s policy. She did as she was told.

The publication of this document unleashed a furor in Washington. Kerry has been subpoenaed to testify before the House Oversight and Govern-ment Reform Committee. In addition, House Speaker John Boehner is calling a committee to investigate why key documents were withheld from Congress. Some members have suggested that such an action is violation of the law.

Such an investigation may not only soil the president’s reputation, it could hurt Democrats’ chances in November. There are many things we do not know. We don’t know where the president was when Americans are being killed. He wasn’t in the situation room, which is where he was during the SEAL team raid on which Osama bin Laden was killed.  

We also don’t know Mrs. Clinton’s role. She certainly knew of the attack. If she signed off on the line Mrs. Rise used on television, it could at a minimum hurt her bid for the White House.

Given the way these things work in Washington, I suspect there are more things still hidden.

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