Benghazi questions still unanswered

The U.S. experienced a terrorist attacks last year in Benghazi, Libya on the anniversary of Sep. 11. Four American lives were lost. After four months of conflicting storylines from the White House and Obama administration, Senate sub-committee hearings, and with minimal analysis and reporting from the mainstream media, much remains unknown. There have been two reports issued, to date.

Hillary Rodham ClintonThese were definitely terrorist attacks, plural, and there were two Sep. 11-12, 2012. The State Department Accountability Review Board (ARB) unclassified report released Dec. 18 confirms the attacks. However, this “independent” report is weak and ignores key questions while focusing on the misleading stories told by the Obama administration and the classification of the facility. For this article, we will use the term “facility” and avoid confusion that has been created by calling it a “US Special Mission Compound” or an “Annex”.

The Senate Committee On Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs released their own report, “Flashing Red: A Special Report On The Terrorist Attack At Benghazi” on Dec. 30, but it’s not much better. Both reports are vague, deceptive and ignore key questions.

Key questions not addressed in these reports include analysis and discussion of the activities being conducted at the facility. What was going on? Why didn’t the Libyan government formally know about the facility and its activities? What are possible reasons for the attack? Who were the participants? And of course – were Obama’s policies in North Africa, the Middle East, and Afghanistan contributing factors? Resolving these, as well as many other outstanding questions, will go a long way towards clearing up all the deception and misinformation proved by the administration.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton successfully dodged questioning on Benghazi twice late last year. She successfully avoided testimony in October due to a “schedule conflict” that included a wine tasting trip in Australia. Then in December, she used a concussion, related to a slip and fall event, to avoid testimony. In her place, two deputies provided closed-door congressional testimony on the ARB report and its’ findings and recommendations. Under oath both deputies, William Burns and Thomas Nides, acknowledged mistakes were made and promised they could do better.

Wednesday, Jan. 22, Clinton finally testified to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the morning and the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the afternoon. Before the Senate Committee, chaired by John Kerry (D-MA), Clinton successfully avoided answering almost all of the questions she was asked. Each member of the Committee was allotted five minutes for questions, rotating between Democrats and Republicans, back and forth. That format was a problem as most Senators, Democrats and Republicans, orated and pontificated for most of their allotted time and didn’t really ask any pointed questions. Democrats, being the worst as they slobbered praise and affection, cited their talking points, and if they did actually ask a question they teed up a softball for Clinton. The Republicans were also disappointing, but more effective overall. Senators’ Johnson, McCain and Paul asked the toughest questions and had the best “sound bites” of the day.

Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) rigorously questioned her about Ambassador Susan Rice and her “purposely misleading” Americans with stories about a YouTube video being the cause of the attacks. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) later suggested lives could have been saved if Clinton were more involved in reviewing security requests. He said that if he were president, “I would have relieved you from your post.” Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said he was not satisfied with the secretary’s answers, complaining that the public still doesn’t have answers on what happened.

Before the House Committee, chaired by Ed Royce (R-CA), Clinton again successfully avoided answering most questions, when she was actually asked a question. The House had the same five-minute rotating format and an even bigger problem with its members oration and pontification instead of asking pointed questions. Most of the Democrats continued with the slobbering and the talking points and many also tried to paint the cause for a pathetic lack of security on the budget. This point lacked any basis in reality and was challenged by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) who quoted Charlene Lamb, a deputy assistant secretary of state working in the diplomatic security bureau, testimony from Oct. 10. Under oath, Lamb was asked the following question by Mr. Rohrabacher: “You made this decision personally. Was there any budget consideration and lack of budget which lead you not to increase the number of people in the security force there?” “No, sir,” said Lamb.

Jeffrey Kibler is a contributor to The Brenner Brief.

Jeffrey Kibler is a contributor to The Brenner Brief.

Expectations for any revelations to come out of Secretary Clinton’s testimony before these Committees had to be low. Clinton did promise both the Senate and the House members written responses to several questions and discussion topics throughout the day. It is unclear when these responses will be provided. Some of them cannot be properly addressed in a public, unclassified forum, so hopefully some of these responses will be classified. What was really needed is a series of short, pointed questions with a back and forth discussion of her responses, without all the oration and pontification. It would be best if members of each Committee submitted their questions to the Chairman, in writing, prior to the hearing, and let the Chairman ask them.

The next article in this Benghazi series will discuss any new information that becomes available as well as follow-up from the Senate and House hearings.

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  1. The delay in the hearings was not helpful. Timeliness important. Manner in which those who perished is imp’t. Thank you for continuing to remind people of the lives lost.

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