Diary

Hillary's Enduring Benghazi Problem

Well, it is nice to have the Democratic presidential debate season over. If there were any doubt, Hillary will be the nominee unless she is indicted (kicking in Plan B – Joe Biden). So, what lies ahead?

Hillary’s October 22 appearance before the House Select Committee on Benghazi will offer the best and last opportunity to get the Secretary’s answers surrounding the attack at the consulate and the CIA annex on September 11, 2012. Fortunately, the chair of the committee is [mc_name name=’Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’G000566′ ], probably the most accomplished prosecutor in the House. (See this clip as an example, after ICE leadership claimed that Congressional budgetary limits were responsible for the release of felons.)

Gowdy has some difficulties to overcome to maximize the impact of this hearing:

– Speaker wannabe McCarthy’s unforced error in tying the committee’s ongoing investigation to the decline of Hillary Clinton’s popularity;

– An effort by Democratic-leaning media to discredit the work of the committee;

– Hillary’s e-mail scandal which arose when she first refused to provide information to this committee, and which has pushed the more substantive complaints out of the public eye.

On the latter point, Bernie Sanders’ call for an end to discussion of Hillary’s damned e-mails reflected a unanimous Democratic objective of changing the dialogue to other issues where they believe they can be successful. The issue will remain toxic to Hillary through the election with the Republican candidate hammering the underlying reasons (and lack of judgement) for her choice in the first place, her dishonest claims that she has made to explain it away, and the substantive problems created by using insecure communications to conduct the business of the State Department. But that was not the objective of this committee, and if this is the focus of Clinton’s October 22 testimony, it will be possible to claim that it is all political and an opportunity to get at the bigger issues of Benghazi – where she was centrally responsible – will have been missed.

So, what should be the focus of the questioning:

1. Why did the consulate operate in an insecure environment, contrary to State Department standards, and contrary to the decision of all other countries who had withdrawn from Benghazi because it was unsafe? Money will be offered as part of the answer – but $750 million was concurrently spent on the embassy in Baghdad.

2. What decisions were made, and by whom, to not do anything to reinforce or extricate the ambassador and other personnel. Over the seven hours there were options, but clearly someone (President Obama?) gave a “stand down” order.

3. Why did the administration – led by a State Department subordinate – promulgate the story that the attack was due to a video. Plenty of subsequent evidence demonstrates that this story was known to be false at the time that it was told.

4. What did she learn that would be applied to other circumstances in the future?

It is possible that Hillary can change the tenor of the discussion – at least as it relates to the video story. The annex near the consulate was managing the transfer of weapons from Libya to a CIA-supported opposition group in Syria. (Obama’s demand that Assad must go had at least a bit of muscle behind it.) Even with the fullness of this disclosure, the decision to leave Americans unprotected in Benghazi, and then to do nothing to help them under fire deserves full discussion under oath. This is the last chance.

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This week’s video is President Obama’s announcement that US forces will remain in Afghanistan past his presidency. With ISIS to the west and an unstable nuclear Pakistan to the east, common sense (and the public advice of the his top local general) prevail.

www.RightinSanFrancisco.com- 10/16/15