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Benghazi – the Truth Was Never Too True At All

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The final report of the Benghazi Select Committee was released yesterday. It's far too early to opine intelligently about all the contents, down to the miscellany — after all, there are over 800 pages of it, and the Jordan-Pompeo supplemental report is another 51. The essentials are easier to assess, however, and some things assumed to be true from the beginning have been confirmed, particularly accusations of obfuscation and misdirection. Other issues have been brought to light that were not immediately clear — faulty intelligence reports from the CIA, accusations of failure on the part of the DoD to deploy military assets like Marine FAST* elements and the regional CIF** in a timely fashion not least among them. One thing is perfectly clear — allegations of wrongdoing by Secretary Clinton and her staff can no longer be dismissed as discredited conspiracy theories (although this being a campaign season, the contents of the report will either be dismissed or decried as part of the political narrative on both sides).

*USMC Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team
**Commander's In-extremis Force, a US Army Special Forces unit in this case belonging to Special Operations Command Europe, not AFRICOM

What's interesting is the wide variety of response the mainstream media has given the report. The New York Times says, No New Evidence of Wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton; Fox News says House Benghazi Report Slams Administration.” Other sources align with these 2 basic attitudes, albeit with varying degrees of vitriol.

The problem here is that all interested parties are conflating multiple issues that should each separately require exoneration or condemnation. Because Secretary Clinton is running for President, her involvement in the events of 9/11/12 and its aftermath taken in toto has evolved to become the crux of the whole matter. This despite the apparent focus of the report on a chronology of events and information gathered from interviews, e-mails and documents.

There are multiple questions that need answered, but distilled down, the 2 biggest and most important ones are,

1. Did the administration (including but not limited to Secretary Clinton) knowingly attempt to mislead the American public about the events and/or dissemble for any unjustifiable reason (e.g., did they lie about something for any reason other than national security)?

2. How and why did the attack on the consulate go unanswered (beyond the local level) for so long? Why were US or allied military forces not directed immediately to respond to Libya, and could they have responded in time if they had been?

For today we'll focus on the first question while stipulating that DoD assets were directed to assist. (The first formal orders to deploy came at 20h39L/8:39pm local time from the National Military Command Center, as ordered by Secretary of Defense Panetta following verbal notification to prepare for deployment given at some point between 18h00 nad 20h00L; see G-17 Timeline of Department of Defense Actions September 11-12, 2012).

From the Benghazi Select Committee Report

So, did Obama administration and Department of State under Secretary Hillary Clinton knowingly attempt to mislead the public?

Yes. Secretary Clinton did, as did President Obama's Press Secretary. Those fact are incontrovertible.

Benghazi Select Committee Report - the Truth Was Never Too True At All

There was clearly an effort on the part of the administration to label the attack on the consulate as an escalation of a protest, similar to other protests like one in Egypt, and not a direct attack. One must keep this in context — an incumbent POTUS running for reelection, just weeks before an election in which his “diplomatic success” during the “Arab Spring” was a key point. That certainly provides motive, though it does not preclude other reasons (including Hanlon's Razor).

Consider the following:

•On the night of the 11 September, Secretary Clinton's statement read in part, “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the internet.”

•In her remarks the morning of 12 September, she said,

“We are working to determine the precise motivations and methods of those who carried out this assault. Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior, along with the protest that took place at our Embassy in Cairo yesterday, as a response to inflammatory material posted on the internet.”

•Later that day, in an e-mail to the embassy in Kabul, Clinton adviser Jacob Sullivan wrote,

There was not really violence in Egypt [and] we are not saying that the violence in Libya erupted ‘over inflammatory videos'. 

•Still later that day, Secretary Clinton statements to Prime Minister Hisham Kandil of Egypt,

“We know that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack – not a protest. . . . Based on the information we saw today we believe the group that claimed responsibility for this was affiliated with al Qaeda.” (emphasis added)

•On 13 September, in Secretary Clinton's Morocco remarks,

“I also want…to address the video circulating on the internet that has led to these protests in a number of countries…As long as there are those who are willing to shed blood and take innocent life in the name of God, the world will never know a true and lasting peace. It is especially wrong for violence to be directed against diplomatic missions. . . .” (emphasis added)

•That was on the 13th. Compare that to the evening before, on the 12th, when during a congressional staff briefing, Under Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy answered a question asking if the attack on the consulate was coordinated with the Cairo protests. “[The] attack in Cairo was a demonstration. There were no weapons shown or used. A few cans of spray paint.” He described the attack on the American consulate as a “…direct breaching attack.”

•Fast forward now to Sept. 14th: White House Spokesman Jay Carney during a press conference.

“We have no information to suggest that it was a preplanned attack. The unrest we've seen around the region has been in reaction to a video that Muslims, many Muslims find offensive. And while the violence is reprehensible and unjustified, it is not a reaction to the 9/11 anniversary that we know of, or to U.S. policy.”

•On 9/16, at least 3 days now after the administration was clearly aware this had nothing to do with a protest and was in fact a terrorist attack that caught us flat-footed (the reasons for which also need addressed), Ambassador Susan Rice tells Chris Wallace on Fox News, “…we don't see at this point this was a coordinated plan, premeditated attack.” That of course directly refutes what the Secretary of State and administration staffers are saying in private.

•On 9/19 there is an e-mail exchange between two Department of State Diplomatic Security Service offers. One asks if there was “…any rioting in Benghazi reported prior the attack?” Another responds, “Zip, nothing, nada.” Numerous other witness interviewed (you can see that list here) reported the same thing. Yet that very day a message drafted by Deputy Chief of Staff Jacob Sullivan and sent by Secretary Clinton to all United States Embassies worldwide read, in part, “The proximate cause of the violence was the release by individuals in the United States of the video trailer for a film that many Muslims find offensive.”

Not only are they at this point lying to the public, they are giving false intelligence to other US diplomatic outposts, many of which are located in semi- or non-permissive environments, thus further putting them further at risk.

While the meaning and significance of these statements can be debated by clever pundits or marginalized by crafty politicians, they cannot be refuted. These aren't ‘alleged' statements, and despite what many will claim in order to mitigate the damage, there existence is not partisan. These are matters of historical fact and record. Do they show a conspiracy on the part of anyone in our government to murder Americans in Benghazi, or to actively working to prevent anyone from going to their aid? Certainly not, at least not so far as I can tell. There is a common public “they fiddled while Benghazi burned” perception, but that appears to be inaccurate. Quite the opposite infact — it appears that military assets were directed to intervene, and failed to arrive in time to do any good. (Note: this is not an indictment of responding military combatant commands. There may have been gross errors made. It might have been impossible from the beginning to adequately respond within such a constrained timeline.)

These facts do, however, clearly and irrefutably show a Secretary of State, a President and a White House staff actively working in a coordinated fashion to lie about what occurred for what appear to be political reasons.Benghazi Select Committee Report - the Truth Was Never Too True At All

That former Secretary of State, who just yesterday told us, “It's pretty clear it's time to move on,” might now be our next President. There will be some who read this article as tacit support for presidential candidate Donald Trump, or a partisan hit piece. It is not. Any opinions of Secretary Clinton's political affiliation or her opponent(s), good or bad, however well founded or reasoned, do not change the simple fact that a serving United States ambassador and 3 other Americans were murdered on her watch — that's the diplomatic equivalent of having a nuclear aircraft carrier attacked and sunk at sea — then out of political expediency she, and the people working for her boss, blatantly lied about how and why it happened.

Unfortunately the question is not so much, “Will anyone be held accountable?” as it is, “Does it get tiring, tilting at windmills like that?”

The administration's truth — on this matter — has never been true at all, and truthfully too many people don't seem to care.



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