The controversy surrounding the events that unfolded in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, have implicated then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the terrorist attack that took the lives of four Americans. Under scrutiny, evidence that she is responsible for Benghazi’s lack of security becomes increasingly clear.
The first element in the Benghazi scandal is the failure of the Obama administration to prepare for a post-Gadhafi Libya. The lack of planning for a secure transition between governments created a political vacuum, one which was filled by warring tribal groups driving the country into instability and lawlessness. In her testimony before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, Clinton stated, “I was responsible for working on the policy both before and after the end of the Gadhafi regime.” Yet with Libya now in chaos, Americans should wonder what plan was in place for Libya after the fall of Gadhafi, how it failed so quickly or why it simply failed to materialize. As the Obama administration’s only attempt to reckon with the Arab Spring, this intervention – crowned by the administration as a shining achievement – set the stage for the security failure in Benghazi.
Furthermore, questions continue to arise about how and why Clinton ignored repeated warnings that the security situation in Libya was deteriorating rapidly. A Senate Intelligence report states that the “IC [Intelligence community] provided ample strategic warning that the security situation in eastern Libya was deteriorating and the U.S. facilities and personnel were at risk in Benghazi.”
A Senate Homeland Security report faulted Clinton’s State Department for its failure “to take adequate action to protect its personnel [in Benghazi].” Less than a month before the attack, U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens cabled the State Department and “expressed concerns with the ability to defend Post in the event of a coordinated attack due to limited manpower, security measures, weapons capabilities, host nation support, and the overall size of the compound.” Clinton’s State Department not only denied his request, but reduced the number of security personnel in Libya. According to some reports, the State Department wouldn’t even approve the placement of a machine gun on the roof of the Benghazi compound after a terrorist group moved in next door.
Although Clinton acknowledges that “we knew what [Stevens] was asking for,” she claims that “I was not responsible for specific security requests and decisions.” Yet the chain of State Department command ends with the secretary of state. So her failure to acknowledge Stephens’ request is either a case of gross negligence as head of the State Department, or she is lying how informed she was on the situation in Libya.
There are also legitimate questions concerning why the American government blamed a video for the Benghazi attack instead of honestly informing the American people of terrorist responsibility. We know that Clinton, in an email to her daughter the night of the attack, stated, “Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an al Queda-like [sic] group.” And in a call with the Egyptian prime minister the next day, Clinton said, “We know that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack, not a protest.” Yet, Clinton chose to tell the American people it was a web video. Why not be honest? Was it because President Obama was weeks away from an election? Her answer: The intelligence community “took the lead.”
As Americans’ concerns over national security have risen in the wake of the Islamic State group’s attacks in Paris, San Bernardino, Philadelphia and elsewhere; the growing influence of the Islamic State group; the waves of migrants flooding Europe; the violations by Iran in the wake of the flawed nuclear deal; the ongoing aggression of Russia and North Korea; and the expansion of Chinese military installations into the South China Sea, the needless loss of life in Benghazi and failed state of Libya is only one sad chapter during Clinton’s tenure.
Benghazi is just one of Clinton’s many scandals, mired in poor judgment, denials, blame and still unanswered questions that led to the tragic loss of American lives.
Brian O. Walsh currently serves as a partner at RedPrint Strategy,and as president of Future45, a super PAC devoted to educating voters about the challenges facing our country and ensuring that the 45th president restores leadership to the White House. He previously served as political director for the National Republican Congressional Committee. This article originally appeared in US News and World Report and is reprinted by permission of the author.