• Dems: Hillary Willing to Testify on Benghazi; Here’s What to Ask Her

    January 29, 2015

    Tags: ,
    Posted in: Embassy/State, Libya



    Hillary Clinton has agreed to testify before a House committee investigating the terrorist attacks in Benghazi ahead of her expected 2016 presidential run.



    Clinton Says Yes

    Representative Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the committee, told reporters Clinton was ready, after he reached out to Clinton at the request of committee Chairman Trey Gowdy.

    Gowdy reiterated on Tuesday that he would like to hear from Clinton but said the panel needed additional documents from the State Department before he would ask her to appear. The State Department has sent the Benghazi panel more than 40,000 documents — including 15,000 never previously sent to Congress — but Gowdy and House Republicans have dozens of standing requests State hasn’t filled.



    Clinton Previously Said No

    Clinton says she won’t “be a part of a political slugfest on the backs of dead Americans” over the 2012 Benghazi attacks,” though she devotes a full chapter to the incident in her book Hard Choices, from which the quotes below are drawn.


    The Questions

    It is very, very difficult to discuss Benghazi and Clinton without almost immediately dipping deep into partisan politics, and no doubt any hearings she will testify at will be ugly and deeply partisan.

    That said, there are important questions about what Clinton’s handling of Benghazi that are relative to her desire to be president. Here are some of them.



    1) Where was Clinton?

    The Benghazi attack unfolded from about 4pm in the afternoon until very late at night, Washington time. Clinton said she was first told of the incident as it began. She has refused to be specific about her whereabouts and actions that night. Where was Clinton between 4pm and say midnight? The State Department Operations Center was on the phone live with officials in Benghazi, Tripoli or both locations and may have been monitoring live TV pictures fed to them from a drone. Was Clinton in the State Department Operations Center? If not, why not? When did she leave the State Department? Why did she leave? Did she go to the White House Ops Center, who no doubt was monitoring the situation? If not, why not?

    Senator Charles Schumer was called to the White House, from 5:30 p.m. to midnight, as the Benghazi attack unfolded. Clinton would be an unlikely source to explain Schumer’s presence, but certainly should be asked to explain her own non-presence.

    For example, the CBS timeline for the attack states that 4 a.m. Washington time Obama was told of Ambassador Stevens’ death. Where was Clinton at that time? If she was asleep, at home or elsewhere, why did she chose that over staying at the State Department?

    Clinton has refused to explain where she was the night of the Benghazi attack. CNN asked her, and here is her response:

    QUESTION: … could you tell us a little bit about what you were doing when that attack actually happened? I know Charlene Lamb, who as the State Department official, was mentioning that she back here in Washington was monitoring electronically from that post what was happening in real time. Could you tell us what you were doing? Were you watching? Were you talking with the President? Any details about that, please.

    SECRETARY CLINTON: … I think that it is very important to recognize that we have an investigation going on… So that’s what an investigative process is designed to do: to try to sort through all of the information, some of it contradictory and conflicting… So I’m going to be, as I have been from the very beginning, cooperating fully with the investigations that are ongoing, because nobody wants to know more about what happened and why than I do. And I think I’ll leave it at that.

    Why It Matters: A Commander-in-Chief is responsible for lives and decisions. She has to be present and ready to make the “hard choices” in real time. If Clinton was elsewhere and not directly monitoring Benghazi in real-time (as opposed to getting periodic “briefings” aside some other event), how will she act as president in a similar crisis?

    2) About That Anti-Muslim Video

    In her book Hard Choices Clinton states about Benghazi:

    There were scores of attackers that night, almost certainly with differing motives. It is inaccurate to state that every single one of them was influenced by this hateful video. It is equally inaccurate to state that none of them were. Both assertions defy not only the evidence but logic as well.

    What evidence can Clinton present that any Benghazi attackers were directly motivated by the video so offensive to Muslims? The attacks appear to have been well-coordinated and goal-oriented, not the faceless mobs content to tear down the American flag as seen in Cairo. Some were certainly angry about the video, but was it truly a “motivation?”

    For example, at 6:07 p.m. Washington time an alert from the State Department Operations Center stated the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli reported the Islamic military group “Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack”… on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli. It did not appear that the offensive video was cited.

    The UK’s Independent noted the Consulate attackers made off with documents listing names of Libyans who are working with Americans, and documents related to oil contracts.

    Why It Matters: If you cite evidence, put up or shut up. The president must speak precisely, both to avoid misunderstandings and to preserve her credibility.


    3) What is Responsibility?

    Clinton writes:

    As Secretary I was the one ultimately responsible for my people’s safety, and I never felt that responsibility more deeply than I did that day.

    Define “responsibility.” Many definitions imply some sort of relationship between being responsible, making decisions and accepting consequences. What decisions did Clinton make as Secretary of State vis-vis security in Benghazi? If delegated, to whom? What controls, management tools or other means did she employ to assure those delegates acted out her intentions?

    Why It Matters: As president, Clinton will need to delegate almost everything. If she is unable to manage that, simply saying she takes “responsibility” while shucking off consequences will undermine her leadership.


    4) More About Responsibility

    In Hard Choices, Clinton writes about the messages from Benghazi before the attack requesting more security:

    The cables were addressed to her as a ‘procedural quirk’ given her position, but didn’t actually land on her desk. “That’s not how it works. It shouldn’t. And it didn’t.”

    Fair enough. Obviously the Secretary cannot read even a fraction of what pours into the State Department. So, who were the highest level people to see those cables? What were their instructions on which issues to elevate to the Secretary and which to deal with themselves? Clearly the need for more security at Benghazi was not addressed. Following Benghazi, did Clinton initiate any internal review, leading to changes? Details are important here.

    Following Benghazi, no one in the State Department lost his/her job. No one was fired. Several people were placed on administrative leave, a kind of purgatory, until media attention focused elsewhere. All were eventually reinstated. The one person who claimed to have resigned actually just changed job titles, “resigning” from one to take on another.

    At the time, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said “the discipline is a lie and all that has happened is the shuffling of the deck chairs. That will in no way change [the] systemic failures of management and leadership in the State Department.”

    Why It Matters: God alone knows how much paper, how many memos and reports, arrive at the White House daily. The president must have staff and a system that filter the right things up and down. The country needs to have confidence that President Clinton will be able to handle that to prevent bad decisions that may lead to more tragedy. And when things go wrong, the president must be willing to shed ineffectual people and replace them with better ones.



    5) Leading

    Clinton writes of her non-appearance on television, with Susan Rice taking the lead:

    [People] fixate on the question of why I didn’t go on TV that morning, as if appearing on a talk show is the equivalent of jury duty, where one has to have a compelling reason to get out of it. I don’t see appearing on Sunday-morning television as any more of a responsibility than appearing on late-night TV. Only in Washington is the definition of talking to Americans confined to 9 A.M. on Sunday mornings.

    At the time, Susan Rice was America’s ambassador to the UN, what many saw as an unusual choice for a spokesperson for such a State Department-specific tragedy with little UN touchpoint.

    Clinton was Secretary of State, the leader of the State Department, which had just had one of its consulates overrun, and two of its employees killed, one an ambassador. Clinton admits she held “responsibility” for this. Why wouldn’t she be the person to speak of this to the American people? Indeed, it was Clinton, not Susan Rice, in the foreground of the serious, patriotic photos taken later at the Dover Air Force base when the remains of the dead were returned to the U.S. in their flag-draped coffins.

    Clinton went on to miss numerous opportunities to speak of her role regarding Benghazi.

    Why It Matters: The buck stops here, said president Harry Truman. The president needs to be the one who speaks to America, explains things that happened to Americans, the one who shows by example her role, her compassion, for those whom she sent into harm’s way. The president, to lead, can’t duck that.



    6) Information and Disinformation

    Clinton writes in her book:

    [There is a] regrettable amount of misinformation, speculation, and flat-out deceit by some in politics and the media, but new information from a number of reputable sources continues to expand our understanding of these events.

    Can Clinton be specific about what new information she is referring to, and from what sources? Can she explain how she determined these sources are reputable as opposed to those she characterizes as “flat-out deceit”?

    One Democratic talking point opposing additional investigation into Benghazi is that the event has been dissected fully and we know all there is to know, that a new hearing in Congress is simply partisan politics. But if there is new information, as Clinton says, it seems more investigation would be helpful.

    Why It Matters: A president’s word choice is very important. Precision is important and establishes credibility.


    7) Accountability

    Clinton writes that the Accountability Review Board (ARB), State’s after-action process following any tragedy abroad as significant as two employees being killed by terrorists, did not interview her for their report, by their own choice. She does not know why they did not call on her. The report was bland and singled out no one for discipline or sanction despite the deaths and the decisions (by someone) not to increase security as personnel on the ground demanded.

    Given the central role the Secretary of State and her office, delegates and staffers played in Benghazi before, during and after the crisis, how could this possibly be true? Assuming that the ARB truly found no reason whatsoever to speak to the head of an organization about arguably the most significant event of her term as head of that organization, why didn’t Clinton seek them out? Why didn’t she prepare a written statement, ask to add in her recollections? Get her role on record? Make sure history was recorded.

    The Accountability Review Board personnel were hand-selected by Clinton.

    And as John Kerry said (about Edward Snowden) “patriots don’t run away.”

    Why It Matters: Not participating in such a review process, and then dismissing such non-participation simply as “they didn’t ask,” even if true, raises significant credibility questions about the validity of the ARB and the leader who did not participate. Credibility to her own staff, as well as to the American people, is a critical thing for a president.

    If either lose faith in her, she cannot be effective. Leaders lead without excuses.


    Something Important

    OK, let’s get this out of the way. It is impossible to divorce an attempt at serious, dispassionate discourse about Benghazi from the political side promoted by Republicans and Democrats. And yes, of course, it is aimed at Hillary 2016.

    But Hillary 2016 is a big deal. If the election were held today, she’d likely be the next president. So maybe, albeit with some of the inevitable political mud slung alongside, we should pay attention to how she acted, if she failed to act, and whether she enjoyed some sort of cover-up/soft-sell over what really happened in Benghazi.

    To paraphrase Mrs. Clinton’s own political rhetoric as directed at then-candidate Obama, we need to know how she’ll act when that tragic 3 a.m. phone call comes through. While past performance is no guarantee of future success or failure, it is how the smart money should bet.

    What kind of president would Hillary Clinton be? Let’s ask some real questions, and hold out for real answers.




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    Copyright © 2019. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

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  • Recent Comments

    • bloodypitchfork said...

      1

      quote”Let’s ask some real questions, and hold out for real answers.”unquote

      Real answers? Ha! What difference does it make now!!!!!

      Report after report after hearings after hearings.

      Like you said Peter. NO ONE is held accountable, least of all Clinton. Same ole shit. Different day.

      note to self..
      1. Check Contempt Meter..then recalibrate.
      2. Adjust Cynicism level to full threshold.
      3. Chortle on demand during hearing.
      4. Invite friends over for Benghazi Hearing
      Superbowl party, with pizza, beer, raspberry blower favors and Clinton The Clown t-shirts.
      5. Double check Hardi har har-O-Meter

      01/29/15 3:59 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      2

      Hillary’s brain and her thought processes are very different from mine. Cackling, “We came, we saw, he died….” is not the way my brain processes and evaluates human events. Maybe she is a suitable leader for this country which seems to be repeating the policies of Rome during its decline.

      01/30/15 3:43 AM | Comment Link

    • teri said...

      3

      Benghazi was a CIA gun-running operation and it’s too bad Stevens got himself killed, but I think that sometimes happens when you are fronting weapons to thugs and USA-backed “rebels”. Clinton was running the whole show in Libya, as Obama allowed her to call the shots and took a backseat, despite all the evidence that she was lying about everything presented as reasons for the “intervention”. Ghadaffi even offered to step down if it would prevent NATO from bombing his country, and HILLARY refused. We ruined the country, bombing schools, television stations, hospitals, food supply storage facilities, and destroyed the Great Man-made River, leaving millions without access to water. We stole Libya’s gold and cash; can we have a hearing on where that money went? Ghaddafi said the “rebels” were al Qaeda (backed by the CIA) and it turns out he was right. This has now been proven as factual and not just supposition. Whatever Ghaddafi was in his early years is not a valid picture of who he became in the last decade of his rule; for Western media to continue to present him as a “tyrannical despot” is a bullshit eliding of who he had become, how Libya had changed, and how much his people loved him. I don’t feel sorry for any American who was killed while helping us to wreck and plunder Libya.

      See, for starters:

      Secret Audio Recordings Exposes
      How Hilary Clinton Distorted Facts To Push For Attack On Libya

      Secret tapes undermine Hillary Clinton on Libyan war
      Joint Chiefs, key lawmaker held own talks with Moammar Gadhafi regime

      By Jeffrey Scott Shapiro and Kelly Riddell

      http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40843.htm

      What a country we have become. We are going to be presented with candidates from our two ruling families, as though this were some sort of monarchy, and told that we can “elect” (using easily jiggered and hackable electronic Diebold machines and no paper ballots) one of these “candidates” who have been pre-selected for us by the 400 people who hold damn near all the money and tangible assets in the country. That’s if we have an election in ’16. I believe we will most likely not, as the economy is going to stop dead in its tracks and the assholes in charge will have us involved in more wars than ever by then. However, I could be wrong; they may be able to keep the Really Big Shew of “elections” going for awhile longer; in which case, even the dumbest Americans will by then have figured out what a carnival freak-show the whole thing is and not bother to vote, while the “candidates” promise to fix the economy [again] and kill all the terrorists [again]. The next President [sic] will be chosen by 10% of the voting public. Already, the media has gone from decrying money in politics to laying odds on who the Koch brothers and Soros will back and with how much money in ’16. I.e., the media is now focusing more on the money-people rather than on what the potential candidates stand for. Although I suppose that is honest reporting, in its way.

      Obama is asking for more money for the Pentagon – so much for his recent meaningless mumbles about helping the middle class (forget about the poor, nobody mentions the poor) – and approved deep-water drilling off the Atlantic coast, and the FDA just approved not only 2,4-D but dicamba – another Vietnam-era herbicide – for expanded use in the US, as well as approving a couple of new GMO products. “Eat your vegetables” has a whole new and dark meaning. Meanwhile, Congress is openly committing treason (or sedition) by inviting the leader of a foreign country to advise them on how to best wreck and punish a third country for something it is not doing. Good news, though, as the [blatantly illegal] US rigging of the commodities and financial markets in an effort to punish Russia for something it is also not doing, is back-firing and our own oil and gas industries are dropping like flies and laying people off in huge numbers. Which means fewer of us will be drinking toxic sludge for awhile. Tough thing about all those jobs, though, and too bad Americans are so expendable in the minds of the PTB.

      Things are seriously fucked up.

      01/30/15 12:09 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      4

      “If the election were held today, she’d likely be the next president.”

      I’ll take that bet. Jay Leno speaks for many who find the old bat out of her league and “too slow” for the fastballs that will be coming her way.

      01/30/15 12:10 PM | Comment Link

    • teri said...

      5

      Oh, I forgot – here’s Obama’s ask for the Pentagon budget:

      http://www.stripes.com/news/us/pentagon-documents-obama-to-request-big-defense-budget-hike-1.326146

      01/30/15 12:12 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      6

      Teri- Obama feared the voters might discern that the Libyan “humanitarian” intervention had been a colossal mistake. Needing boots on the ground in “liberated” Benghazi to protect Stevens would have been too politically risky so close to the election. Stevens may have wanted to be Lawrence of Libya so badly he had to abide by Obama’s ballet slipper toe imprint security ruse in Benghazi. He died so an effete boss could be reelected.

      01/30/15 1:47 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      7

      Setting aside our differing conspiracies about what was going on in Benghazi pre and post Gaddafi I think it is safe and even fair to say that Hillary and Barack are fearful of still unreleased damning information that will tarnish and perhaps ruin their reputation, legacy and any future political plans. The irony may be that they are the only ones concerned with a moot point for the voters could care less about what really happened in Benghazi as long as it didn’t endanger them.

      01/30/15 7:48 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...

      8

      damn..I haven’t read this kind of real personal observation of people of current events in a long time. damn.

      Go Peter’s blog.

      indeed…teri..John..fuck ..keep it up. If anything, I’m here. Don’t know it that means anything, but I’m reading and listening.

      Hey, meanwhile, just read the something that just tickled my insolent inclinations…

      damn. Go Jonithan Turley..slap em in the face.

      https://jonathanturley.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/statement-lynch-nomination-turley-testimony-senate-2.pdf

      fuck. If Turley’s testimony doesn’t bring into focus the REAL lack of Congress’ courage to forge a bipartisan revulsion of the Executive branch’s expansion of power over the entire planet..all I can say is.. tell your grandchildren to buy every weapon the can get their hands on. They’re gonna need them.

      01/31/15 1:20 AM | Comment Link

    • Michael Bugg said...

      9

      O.K. someone screwed up regarding Benghazi, but how many times do the Republicans have to investigate and find nothing actionable before we let this go? If the Republicans had only been this determined to get to the bottom of what Bush knew and when he knew it before the 09-11-2001 attack in NYC! Speaking of which, how does Benghazi even remotely compare to 09-11-2001? Four dead on the other side of the planet in Benghazi; 2994 dead INSIDE the U.S. on 09-11-2001! And Obama has not started a war to try to bury his and Hillary’s mistakes prior to Benghazi! Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the host nation to provide primary security for embassies and consulates. The guest nation cannot put in place soldiers in large numbers to protect embassies! And how many more security people inside the Benghazi compound would have guaranteed no deaths there, particularly if the native people attack with rockets, mortar shells, RPGs, and bullets from a distance? During the Bush administration I spent ten nights at our embassy in Moscow in 2006. In the heart of the “Evil Empire” there were only 15 Marines stationed there for security. A determined Boy Scout Troop could have wrecked that place if they were willing to suffer casualties of their own during the attack! Lastly, being in a foreign country, especially as a government representative, is an inherently dangerous business. What mistakes did Ambassador Stephens make that night that may have contributed to his own death? It was not like the Little Bighorn, because all but four people survived!

      02/27/15 3:48 PM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...

      10

      One tragedy does not excuse another; they are all wrong and the guilty should all be investigated and where appropriate tried. So one party or another failing to do so in one tragedy does not absolve all the others. Clinton wants to be president and has a very, very shot at making it. Her decision-making is something we need to look into. Here are the questions I think we need to ask her: http://wemeantwell.com/blog/2015/01/29/dems-hillary-willing-to-testify-on-benghazi-heres-what-to-ask-her/

      02/27/15 5:00 PM | Comment Link

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