Monday, May 20th, 2019

The Benghazi questions


From the Guardian:

For months, the Benghazi story was safely ghettoized in the conservative press (save for some dogged reporting by CBS News’ Sharyl Attkisson). But Wednesday’s hearing rekindled broad media interest, as the former deputy to murdered Ambassador Christopher Stevens gave testimony that repeatedly undercut administration claims.

Gregory Hicks testified that everyone knew early on that the consulate had been the target of a terrorist attack, not a protest over an anti-Muslim YouTube video. He said that when he objected to the official talking points, administration praise turned into an effective demotion. Hicks added that Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills forbade him from talking to a Republican investigator, in a somewhat intimidating fashion.

Whistleblowers claimed that a US armed force in Tripoli was twice instructed not to deploy to Benghazi. They told Congress they did not know who gave the “stand down” orders or the reasoning behind the decision.

After the attack, the wounded ambassador was taken to a hospital controlled by the Islamists responsible. Hicks testified that Americans didn’t go get him because they were being set up. “We suspected we were being baited into a trap and so we did not want to go send our people into an ambush,” he said

As the New York Times reported,

“If the testimony did not fundamentally challenge the facts and timeline of the Benghazi attack and the administration’s response to it, it vividly illustrated the anxiety of top State Department officials about how the events would be publicly portrayed.”

Some might go further and say that the hearings raised serious questions about both the security situation in Benghazi and the veracity of the administration’s initial public account. Hicks called Ambassador Susan Rice’s early explanations “stunning” and “embarrassing”.

Did the White House want to avoid any perception that a terrorist attack, launched on the anniversary of 9/11, was mishandled as President Obama was running for reelection? Was there too light a military footprint because the earlier campaign for regime change in Libya was sold to the American people as requiring no boots on the ground? Who even knew what, when?

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