I read with interest my Daily Beast colleague Michael Tomasky’s column Wednesday, in which he asserted that the establishment of a Special Select Committee to investigate Benghazi is nothing more than bulls**t. Putting aside that disrespectful characterization of a search for truth and accountability for an attack in which four Americans lost their lives, I’m troubled by the motivation of many on the left, who have sought to demonize anyone who questions the narrative the Obama administration has spun for nearly two years.
I concur with our colleague Kirsten Powers, who writes that the glib, evasive, and arrogant posture of the White House and the president’s supporters has brought about the present Benghazi inquiry. The American people were told repeatedly in the days and weeks following the attack that it was the result of an offensive video‚ an assessment the president and secretary of state surely knew within hours was far from the truth.
Rather than level with the American people and admit what senior administration officials knew—as well as taking steps to protect our diplomatic assets abroad—the Obama administration stuck with the line that GM was alive, Osama bin Laden was dead, and al Qaeda was on the run. It was hard to square that circle when the Libyan prime minister and our deputy chief of mission in Libya immediately asserted that Benghazi was a preplanned terrorist attack.
Returning to Tomasky’s piece, I was incredulous at his view of the Benghazi attacks and the prism through which he sees the world. First he tells us:
“Benghazi is and has been for some time a witch hunt that perverts all notions of democratic accountability and that obviously carries one purpose and one purpose only—the humiliation or worse of as many Democrats as possible, preferably the big cheeses (Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton).”
Let’s start with the notion that this is a witch hunt with the sole purpose of humiliating as many Democrats as possible.
Ambassador Chris Stevens was a political appointee of President Obama and worked under the immediate supervision of Secretary State Hillary Clinton. Democrats, both. Neither Obama nor Clinton have explained why their political appointee’s requests to get security in Benghazi increased were denied. The American people deserve to know the truth. That is hardly a partisan question, but it could expose incompetence once the real answers are uncovered.
Next Tomasky tells us that the Benghazi attack has been probed with two Senate reports and eight House reports. Case closed, right? What he doesn’t tell us is that Secretary of State Clinton has not been interviewed directly under oath. He mentions the investigation chaired by Admiral Mike Mullen and Thomas Pickering but fails to note that the secretary did not make herself available for questioning. Surely one cannot have a comprehensive review of the actions and activities undertaken by the State Department when the secretary is not part of the review process. For that matter, isn’t it odd that none of the personnel from the diplomatic compound in Benghazi have been interviewed on the record? What was their experience that evening, and did they witness a protest sparked by a video? A Select Committee on Benghazi will certainly provide these answers.
Tomasky tells us that Susan Rice, then U.N. ambassador to the United Nations, merely told the American people what the CIA told her to say about Benghazi. I’m sorry to say that’s not true. The truth, sadly, is that the Obama White House misled the American people when it redacted a lawfully subpoenaed document that was disclosed only after a lawsuit by Judicial Watch. In that document, White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes pushed the notion that the attack was triggered by a spontaneous demonstration, not a breakdown in policy. The first three goals in the document, which was withheld from Congress, were:
“To convey that the United States is doing everything we can to protect our people and our facilities abroad;
“To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy;
“To show we will be resolute in bringing people who harm Americans to justice, and standing steadfast during these protests.”
Perhaps Tomasky can tell us how the United States has done everything to protect our people and our facilities abroad when our own State Department denied the ambassador’s requests for additional security. Perhaps he can show us how the protests were rooted in an Internet video, a claim our intelligence services and military officials immediately knew to be false. Or perhaps he can explain how the Obama administration has brought “people who harm Americans to justice” when The New York Times was able to interview a terrorist ringleader about the attack as he sipped a strawberry frappe barely a month after the attack. The grand total of those apprehended or held responsible to date has been zero.
Finally, despite all the congressional Democrats’ snickering and posturing this week, a Select Committee on Benghazi can answer one question that remains unanswered: Where was the president of the United States the evening of September 11, 2012, and what steps did he take that evening?
We know from former National Security Council spokesman Tommy “Dude, That Was Two Years Ago” Vietor that the president was in the Executive Mansion but not in the Situation Room on the evening in question. Did he monitor the events unfolding overseas? Was he briefed throughout the evening? Why didn’t he order a military rescue mission? Only after the attack occurred did we find out it spanned nearly eight hours. Surely military assets could have been sent to Libya from Italy or elsewhere. Did the commander in chief ask military assets to stand down?
I’ll tell you what’s BS, Mr. Tomasky: The Obama administration has misled, dissembled, and otherwise given the finger to the families of those who lost their lives that night in service to their country. I’m willing to believe that the personnel on the ground in Benghazi were terrified, confused, and hoping the cavalry was on its way to save them from terrorists seeking to kill them. We need a Special Select Committee on Benghazi to ascertain these facts and ensure that such a disaster never occurs again. We need truth, not bullsh*t, from the president and his administration, but so far, that’s all they’ve been shoveling.