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The shame of Benghazi

Posted: January 20, 2014 - 5:25pm

When anything bipartisan comes out of a polarized Washington, one should be grateful. That’s why a Senate Intelligence Committee report on the September 11, 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans represents progress of sorts.

The committee, chaired by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, (D-CA), faults the State Department and intelligence community for failing to prevent the attacks. The committee determined that the U.S. military command did not know about a CIA annex in Benghazi and that, writes The Washington Post, “...the Pentagon didn’t have the resources in place to defend the State Department compound in an emergency.” This communications failure between agencies, supposedly solved after the September 11, 2001 attacks, had not been. If it had, the report found, Benghazi likely could have been prevented.

Sen. Feinstein criticized some Republicans on the committee for adding a section in the report called “additional views” in which they intimate that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was culpable in the attacks. In a statement, Feinstein, wanting the record clear, said the accusation was “patently false” and that Clinton was “not mentioned a single time in the 58-page bipartisan section of our Benghazi report.”

Yet, in an October 16, 2012 interview with CNN in Peru, Clinton said about Benghazi, “I take responsibility. I’m in charge of the State Department’s 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts.”

So, Clinton was “in charge,” but not at fault, is that it?

In her additional views entry, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), said, “To be clear, the responsibility for the attack lies with the attackers themselves. Unfortunately, the promises of the president and other senior administration officials to bring any of the attackers to justice have ringed hollow thus far. The report finds that more than a year after the attack, the terrorists who perpetrated the attack have still not been brought to justice.”

The Times reported in September 2013, “Intelligence officials have a general idea of where they are hiding. And the military has a contingency plan to snatch them... But the fledgling Libyan government, which has little to no control over significant parts of the country ... has rebuffed the Obama administration’s efforts to arrest the suspects.”

The report contradicts claims by the administration that the attacks were sparked by an anti-Muslim video and concludes that individuals associated either directly with al-Qaida or one of its affiliates were involved and likely planned and carried out the attacks.

What is needed is for Speaker John Boehner to appoint a select committee, modeled after the Senate Watergate Committee, with subpoena powers to question under oath witnesses and those in charge.

According to an exclusive report from Breitbart.com, three relatives of those killed in Benghazi, including Pat Smith, the mother of Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith, have written Boehner asking that he name a special committee. Co-signers include “scores of conservative and military leaders.” Pat Smith has said President Obama and Secretary Clinton promised her they would find out what happened to her son. So far she has heard nothing.

A New York Times’ editorial writes, “The report, parts of which were blacked out, says there is no indication that the CIA ... knew of a time or place for a specific attack. It describes the attack as ‘opportunistic’ and not ‘a highly coordinated plot.’ This dovetails with an investigation by The Times, which found that the attack was triggered in part by spontaneous anger over an anti-Islamic video.” The Times has a lot invested in its incorrect position and to issue corrections might take gallons of ink.

In the “alternative” media universe truth can still be found. If media elites awarded prizes to Fox News, that network’s chief intelligence correspondent, Catherine Herridge, would deserve one. Her tenacious and accurate reporting kept the Benghazi story alive when mainstream media appeared to have lost interest. In an email to me, Herridge writes about those who died in Benghazi: “We cannot bring them back, but we can honor them with the facts.”

It’s a shame the Obama administration does not seem to share her attitude. That’s why Speaker Boehner must name a special committee to uncover what the administration appears to be covering up.

Readers may e-mail Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribune.com.

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