By Pat Austin
Hillary Clinton is still being coy about a 2016 presidential run. When asked at a student conference in Tempe, AZ this week, Clinton said she is “obviously thinking about all kinds of decisions.”
I think it is inevitable that she will run; I think the inevitability of it is too much for her to resist. Assuming that, it seems more important than ever that we remember Benghazi 2011 and continue the fight to determine what really happened there. It is certainly an issue that will come up should a Clinton 2016 campaign actually happen.
There are still far too many questions about what really happened in Benghazi. What we know for certain is that four Americans were killed in Benghazi, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
We know that in the aftermath, then U. N. Ambassador Susan Rice made the Sunday talk show rounds for the purpose of reiterating the administrations talking points that the Benghazi attack was the result of an obscure YouTube video.
Recently, Donald Rumsfeld spoke to Breitbart TV and placed the blame for Benghazi right where it should have been all along: on Hillary Clinton:
In this instance, there was widespread knowledge, as was pointed out by Congressman Issa, the British knew that there were al-Qaeda threats, and they pulled their people out because they knew they couldn’t protect them.”
“Our people knew there were al-Qaeda threats, and they not only did not protect them, but they didn’t pull them out. That, in my view, is a neglect of important responsibilities. The idea that it falls to someone down the line, I think, is a misunderstanding. Clearly, the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the person responsible.”
It is unconscionable to think that she is somehow not responsible for the death of those four men in Benghazi. How is it possible that she was unaware of the lack of security at the consulate? At best, if in fact she had no idea, it is a dereliction of duty on her part and should certainly preclude her from consideration as our Commander in Chief.
The entire Benghazi fiasco was a shameful enterprise from beginning to end; why was that consulate in place at all? Why not in Tripoli? Why were we using unarmed Libyans to guard the consulate? How were they supposed to ward off an attack with bats? Why were requests for increased security ignored?
For her part, during Congressional testimony Secretary of State Clinton denied knowledge of any cables requesting assistance. Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX) posed the question:
McCaul: …Similar to September the 11th, 2001, there were warning signs prior to Benghazi September 11th. There was an April 6th, 2012 crude IED thrown over the wall of the U.S. facility in Benghazi. On May 22nd, 2012, Red Cross building in Benghazi hit by two RPGs. The brigades of the imprisoned Blind Sheikh took responsibility for that attack. On June 6th, 2012, the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was targeted by an IED (inaudible) a big hole in the perimeter wall. Again, the Blind Sheikh brigade taking credit.
And then on August 16th, we have this cable that’s been widely reported — a classified State Department cable warning that the Benghazi consulate could not withstand a coordinated attack. And the regional security officer believed our consulate could not be protected at an emergency meeting less than one month before the attack on 9/11.
A contingency plan was supposedly drafted to move the operations to the CIA annex about a mile away from the compound. This cable is presumed to have been shared by senior staff. It was sent to your office. It was sent to the NSC. And even on September 11th, the day Ambassador Stevens was killed, he personally warned about, quote, “a growing problem with security in Benghazi and growing frustration with security forces and the Libyan police.”
Were you aware of this cable — this August 16th cable?
CLINTON: Congressman, that cable did not come to my attention. I have made it very clear that the security cables did not come to my attention or above the assistant secretary level where the ARB placed responsibility. Where, as I think Ambassador Pickering said, “the rubber hit the road.”
How is that possible?
Taken in conjunction with Clinton’s infamous “What difference, at this point, does it make,” it’s easy to understand why she never saw a cable, never followed up on it, and to this day passes the buck to others.
In recently unclassified documents, it is clear that the Benghazi attack was not about a video at all. General Carter Ham, who at the time was head of AFRICOM, made it clear that his command considered it “a terrorist attack,” information he shared with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
Yet Susan Rice went out and told the American people this was about a video. Why was Susan Rice even out on the talk circuit at all? Shouldn’t that have fallen to Secretary of State Clinton? Could it be that Clinton just didn’t want those video clips used in Republican ads in 2016? When asked, Rice said that Clinton had had a bad week, been under stress, and therefore she willingly picked up the slack.
Just the kind of woman we need for president, eh? Lies to Congress, ignores cables from diplomatic outposts, passes the buck to underlings, and collapses under stress.
I doubt very seriously that Clinton was asked about Benghazi in Tempe this week. While one young student asked, “If you don’t represent women in politics in America as a future president, who will?” I really wish she had asked “If you don’t tell us the truth about Benghazi, who will?”
Pat Austin also blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.