For background, see the previous entries in this series:
Part 1: Why was Stevens in Benghazi?;
Part 2: Libya’s link to the Syrian civil war, and;
According to the results of the many investigations in the wake of the attacks, we know that Leon Panetta, who had moved onto to become Secretary of Defense after leaving the CIA, ordered US forces to be deployed to Benghazi. The assets were mobilized to a staging area in Italy, but sat there and were never deployed. The reason later emerged: Libyan officials became concerned about the dress of any US rescuers. During a 2-hour meeting while the attack was taking place, the State Department wasted valuable time insisting that US military personnel respond in civilian clothes and not use any vehicles with US insignia.
There was also the fact that by the time these decisions had been hashed out, video of the compound indicated the attack was over and that Clinton believed it would be more prudent to send reinforcements to the embassy in Tripoli rather than Benghazi. There was confusion among the policy-makers that cost the administration precious time. However, the most damaging information regarding this meeting is that about half the time was spent discussing the video that had sparked protests in Cairo the previous day. Perhaps the administration jumped to conclusions initially about the video, but emails and other correspondence within hours of the attacks- including frantic calls from Stevens within the compound to Gregory Hicks- indicate that the State Department knew early on this was not a protest against a movie.
In the aftermath of the attack, officials in the administration started to espouse the view that the attacks arose out of spontaneous demonstrations. They cited an anti-Muslim movie, Innocence of Muslims, by an Egyptian-American filmmaker. There had been protests in Cairo the previous day where marchers descended on the US embassy, but there was no substantiated evidence of similar protests in Benghazi. Instead of being spontaneous, it became clear early on that the attacks were coordinated and premeditated, although rioters and looters may have joined after the damage was done. The belief that the 23-minute YouTube video caused the violence became the mantra within the administration very early on. The day after the attack, Blumenthal sent Clinton an email which blamed the video. She sent that email to Jake Sullivan for some reason, but a day later he sent a memo stating that Ansar al-Sharia had planned the attack for over a month, but used the protest as a cover which contradicted the official White House statements at the time.
Susan Rice was the administration point person who carried the excuse of the video to the public. According to later comments, Obama’s foreign policy adviser Ben Rhodes wanted either Hillary Clinton or Tom Donilon to be the spokesperson. Her first appearance was on ABC’s This Week and she suggested the attack was not premeditated and was the result of a protest against the video. This became the official administration narrative and, as Rice often noted, “based on the best available evidence at the time.” In a sense, she can be excused since as the attack was being carried out, Clinton issued a statement condemning the violence and alluding to its reason being the result of “inflammatory material posted on the Internet.” It was not until September 21st- ten days after the attack- that Clinton publicly conceded the attack was one of premeditated terrorism. Of particular interest, it was later learned that within hours of the attack, despite the narrative being put forth by the administration publicly, Clinton had emailed her daughter Chelsea describing it as a terrorist attack and had phoned the Egyptian prime minister admitting that the film and protests in Cairo were not related in any way to the events in Benghazi.
It is odd that even to this day there are many that still believe the now-debunked stories that the attacks started off as a legitimate protest against an admittedly offensive, and clumsily-made, anti-Islam film. The original assertion that the attack was about a movie on YouTube that few people in the Middle East had seen and questions about the US response to the attacks, or lack thereof, did create a political nightmare for Obama two months before the election of 2012, and for Hillary Clinton.
Despite those questions, they festered into 2014 when Republicans formed the House Select Committee on Benghazi in May to examine government policies related to the attack. As the State Department responded to requests for documents, it was discovered that Clinton’s State Department email account had no correspondence. The State Department then requested that she turn over emails from her private server made while she was Secretary of State. Of the 50,000 pages of emails turned over, more than 900 referred to Libya. Thus began the saga of Hillary Clinton’s private email server and the controversy surrounding its use and the eventual 30,000 missing emails. According to some sources, Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch funded a research project on encrypted “dark web” messages that tend to show some of the emails on her private server were intercepted by Russian intelligence. In 2016, Fitton claimed the evidence was passed onto Peter Strozk at the FBI. Nobody knows whatever became of that evidence.
Ironically, we know a lot about the correspondence between Clinton and Blumenthal regarding Libya from a previous hack by the infamous Guccifer, a Romanian hacker who was eventually caught. At the time, those emails generated little interest, but took on added importance after Benghazi.
The war in Libya was sold by the Obama administration as a struggle for human rights- to save the Libyan people from a humanitarian crisis at the hands of Qaddafi. Today, there is not a scintilla of evidence to suggest such a crisis was at hand before or after NATO intervened in Libya and before Qaddafi met his fate by being sodomized with a bayonet before being hacked. Figures like Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, Samantha Power and Sidney Blumenthal promoted the war as striking a blow for “democratic change.”
Benghazi occurred in 2012, a presidential election year. Obama was running as a president claiming his Middle East policies were making the world a safer place. The last thing Obama wanted was for anyone to remember or harp upon his disastrous policies with regards to Egypt, or the fact that he was helping arm rebels in the Syrian civil war, many of whom were sworn enemies of the United States. Obama did not want anyone to know that he actually had boots on the ground in Libya since that would negate his anti-aggression persona that won him a Nobel Peace Prize.
As for Clinton, it was obvious what her motivations were. During her final 11-hour marathon testimony before Congress where she delivered her infamous “what difference does it make?” screed, she emerged victorious in the eyes of a fawning press. Here, some said, was a presidential candidate dragged before congressional committees under hot spotlights while in the midst of a campaign. She “delivered,” they declared. The poor, put-upon victim of the vast right wing conspiracy has survived unscathed.
But out of those hearings, we learned that Hillary Clinton set up a private email server and used it for State Department business and then deleted pertinent emails for purely political reasons.
We discovered, thanks to the emails released by Guccifer, that Clinton was behind the instigation of US involvement in a war in Libya where no American interests were at stake for, at best, political reasons.
She chortled and paraphrased Caesar while the country descended into chaos overrun by terrorist groups, then sat back and did nothing for political reasons.
She ignored requests for additional security in Benghazi and let ambassador Stevens twist in the tornado of disarray the security situation became which resulted in his death, and the death of three other Americans for political reasons.
She then lied and covered up the reason for that disaster for political reasons.
According to Hillary Clinton, those who point out these facts are the partisan hacks who do things for political reasons, not she.
Next: Putin makes a move in Ukraine