Defense & National Security

Bongino: Clinton, Rice must resign over Benghazi tragedy

Bongino: Clinton, Rice must resign over Benghazi tragedy
The American mission at Benghazi, Libya

The Maryland Republican candidate for U.S. Senate demanded on Oct. 11 that Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton and UN Ambassador Susan Rice resign for their roles in the Benghazi attacks.

“I take no comfort in this, but Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice must resign in light of the Benghazi tragedy. It was a tragic failure in leadership,” said Daniel Bongino, a former Secret Service agent and New York City police officer.

The American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, a one-time colony of Ancient Greece and the site of a port and numerous airfields during the Second World War, was attacked over the night of Sept. 11 into the early morning hours of Sept. 12. The attacking force, made up of dozens of men, used small arms, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades to overrun both the consulate compound and the nearby safe house. In the attack, Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens, State Department employee Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs serving as private security contractors, Glen A. Doherty and Tyrone S. Woods, were killed. Steven’s death is still under investigation, but the attending physician at the hospital where he was taken said he died from smoke inhalation.

Amb. J. Christopher Stevens

Bongino, in calling for Clinton and Rice to resign, said he was speaking more as a former Secret Service agent than as a candidate for public office.

“It has been on my mind for a while to comment from a personal perspective — as well as a political one — I felt it was time to speak up,” he said. “I am not worried about the electoral ramifications, I really am not.”

Daniel Bongino

Bongino said he has heard from his own back channels that there is great unrest about the situation in Libya among agents at Secret Service and the Department of State Security, the agency that protects diplomats. The Maryland senate candidate, who in addition to presidential protection, worked on international terrorism missions and was instrumental in cracking a crime ring responsible for $300 million in fraud.

“They all understood the threat environment,” said the former New York City police officer.

Hillary R. Clinton

The former Secret Service agent said he never was part of a security detail for Rice, but he interacted with her daily when she worked at the White House on President William J. Clinton’s National Security Council staff, but never as a member of her protection detail.

Bongino said that for the first two years of his tenure with the Secret Service, he was assigned to protect Clinton, based out of the service’s Long Island headquarters, as she was still First Lady, but also running in the 2000 New York U.S. Senate campaign.

“I spent five out of seven days of each week with her for practically the entire run,” he said.

“My experience with her was pretty extensive,” he said.

“I would have gladly forfeited my life for hers, and so would every other Secret Service agent and every Diplomatic Security Service agent that covers her,” he said.

“What I found odd is that that same courtesy wasn’t then afforded to Ambassador Stevens and the three others over there as well,” said Bongino, who saw duty protecting presidents William J. Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

“It is pretty clear that even a rudimentary analysis of the threat environment of that area, dictated that not only was there a significant threat, there was a high-threat — yet, they were given from my professional experience not a high-threat mitigation security team, they were given practically no security at all,” he said.

“From what I am hearing, there may have been just a two-person detail, I cannot confirm that but, that is what I am hearing,” he said.

“A two-person detail? A two-person DSS detail, in our parlance that is not even for a low-level threat, that is a non-existent-threat detail,” he said. “To protect an ambassador in Benghazi with a two-person detail, you might as well put a bull’s eye on his back.”

Bongino said he worked with Special Forces teams during his time in the presidential security detail, and to have the SF team stand-down from their mission in Libya is crazy. “I don’t know, I keep seeing the picture of the ambassador being dragged through the streets thinking, you know, this is what I did for 12 years of my life, I can’t imagine my wife having to look at that.”

The whole mess is disturbing, he said.

“We are not even talking about the lying,” he said.

Although Rice was not active in the security decisions that led to the Benghazi debacle, she spoke shortly after the attacks and blamed the attacks on a spontaneous protest rally against an offensive video that escalated into the deadly attack.

The Rice narrative has been withdrawn and the Obama administration now concedes there was no demonstration against a video, and that the attack on the Benghazi mission was a planned and complex attack.

“They just came out and lied — we are not even touching on that topic, I’m talking about specifically the political motivation and four deaths that occurred from that,” he said.

“Given all the information coming out, there are only two possible scenarios: it was stunning incompetence, literally tragic incompetence and tragic failure of leadership, or they were competent — they understood the threat environment and they ignored it for political reasons — unfortunately that seems to be the case,” he said.

“It’s an incredible story we are telling, right here,” he said. “Think about it, one of two answers: one of them is devastating, but the second one? How is that not a major story on the major networks every night?”

Bongino said he is inclined to believe political calculations drove the security decision making, including the notion held by people in the Obama administration that Americans are not welcome, so our presence anywhere would be a problem, so any increase in our security footprint would be increasingly offensive.

“They probably figured American boots-on-the-ground would give the wrong impression, and maybe the impression that there was a significant threat, which would have really run counter to the president’s narrative that al Qaeda had been conquered and there was a foreign policy success story in Libya,” he said.

“What they said was: ‘You guys may die, but that’s OK, because we don’t want to ruin the president’s political changes in an upcoming election,” he said.

“I’ve seen this before, where the concern is to make sure they get the optics right,” he said.

There is also a casual attitude about security, he said.

State Department leaders do not see an appreciable difference between American military personnel, private contractors or local nationals hired for security, he said.

In his experience, he has detected resentment among State Department personnel and White House staff towards Secret Service agents, and by extension, military personnel and other government security professionals, who raise objections or concerns about missions, he said.

In this way, they prefer private contractors and local nationals because they are more likely to follow instructions without discussion, he said.

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  • chuckinva

    My God, four Americans are dead and Stephanie Cutter is says that this would not be news except Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are trying to score political points. Is this administration that callous? If they had any honor they would indeed resign, but honor is an old American value and is lost in the new politically correct Obama era.

    I watched the hearings and concluded that this is all politically driven by the Obama White House. Libya is important to Obama’s myth of an “Arab Spring” It was the only country that he intervene in militarily. And they keep saying that foreign policy is Obama’s strength. This whole issue should have been enough to sink Obama’s reelection chances if we had an honest press, which we do not!

  • Dustoff

    They should, but they won’t.

  • annie66

    I feel sorry for any security agent who has to protect the life of HRC. I believe that she is truly evil and I do not believe that this woman is worth one drop of the blood of a decent American because she is indecent. She and Rice do need to be ousted; they should never have been placed on their lofty perches to begin with because both are incompetent and unaccomplished.

  • GeorgeStGeorge

    I expect the standard Obama Administration response: “Yes, it was my responsibility; but it’s not my fault, because I’m hopelessly incompetent.” (Cf. Eric Holder on Fast and Furious, Stephen Chu on Solyndra, Obama on just about everything…)

  • GeorgeStGeorge

    It’s hard to imagine that Cutter has enough brains to keep her hairline off the bridge of her nose.

  • GeorgeStGeorge

    I think Obama blurts out what he HOPES the situation is. As when his buddy Gates was stopped, breaking into his home, by the police. Obama HOPED it was a case of racism. (Actually, it was, just not the way he thought.) Obama HOPED that the attack on our Libyan embassy was due to the anti-Islam video, so he could use it as another chance to suck up to Muslim radicals. That’s probably also why he held on to that explanation long after it was clear to EVERYBODY that it was wrong.

  • endpork

    Hillary is too old and at her age her political career is finished.
    As far as Rice goes… the current administration will not let either go because it will prove more of his failures and less than a month before the election IT WOULD BE POLITICAL SUICIDE.
    Nobody in the Republican Party will demand it.. THEY HAVE NO BALLS. They are also scared that when they screw up there will be retrobution.
    Of all the screw ups by Eric Holder.. he is still there. That must prove to all that the grand “OLD” party needs to go as well.
    It starts with us and ends with us.
    How about those S.F.Giants.

  • Looiqk

    Bongino is a joke, the guy is trying desperately to stay relevant in his dying race by saying outlandish things like this. Do we really want a joke of a candidate who is only looking to score political points here and there ? Disgraceful. Bush and his administration had much greater warning about 9/11 than the Obama administration did about this event, which one was more tragic ? Did Republicans call for Rumsfeld and Bush to resign ? Of course they didn’t, because they are partisan hacks who put party above country.

  • 56blue9

    The Canadian writer Thomas Haliburton once said that “all bullies are
    always cowards”. Biden’s behavior of constantly contradicting Ryan and
    Raddatz, then
    hiding behind Hillary on Libya made Haliburton’s point.
    Of course, Raddatz was not exactly a profile in courage when she failed
    to followup on Biden’s statement. An appropriate question might have
    been, “when you say “we” did not know, are you seriously suggesting that
    buck stops with the Secretary of State — who of course was appointed
    the President? Isn’t she part of “we”?

  • Derek2mk

    I wholehearted agree with Mr. Bongino. I have personal experience in such matters, having served as a Marine Embassy Guard in Tel Aviv (’77-79.) The idea of allowing an Ambassador to go into an unstable country, and travel about with no armed Marine Guards is utterly inexcusable, and a total dereliction of duty for the SecState. This is compounded by the fact that it now coming to light that our intelligence agencies had ample warning that Al Qeada cells were operating in Benghazi. Hillary Clinton’s hands are dripping with the blood of four innocent Americans.

  • Derek2mk

    Doesn’t wearing that tinfoil hat chafe your ears?

  • redware

    I wonder how long it will take before Bill Clinton finds it necessary to come to the defense of his wife,when the inevitable happens and the White House throws the State Department under the bus,just like Biden did to the intelligence community last night.Somebody is going to pay dearly for this tragic debacle-the failure to adequately defend our consulate,and the ensuing coverup designed to save Obama’s presidency.Bill Clinton will not stand idly by and watch any political future for his wife go up in flames(even if he hasn’t convinced her to run in 2016).The fireworks will be spectacular!

  • AKgunguy

    You are probably (certainly) right, they will not resign. I would also like to add that we can foceably resign them by not re-electing Barak Obummer to a second term. I believe this is a major player in the debate, I mean A$$ clowning of one Joe Biden last night. Americans need to make the choice to
    stop all the Foreign Policy mistakes and Ignorance of this adminstration.

  • ordman

    Obama will throw Clinton and anybody else that he or Valerie Jarrett feel is necessary under the bus in a vain attempt to save his own a@#.

  • Stanton Alleyne

    My problem is the use political rhetoric running for public office while using the American people as stepping stones for points and media time. The worst incident to USA was 9/11, where the lack of intelligence, or ignorance of analyses provided no clues in the allowance of that day of infamy. Do we blame Bush for the Kenya bombing or 9/11? Let’s be serious! We strive t do better but if blame is to be bandied about, it was DSS/DOS who turned down the request at the expense of what we have now. At the time, it was impossible to tell he goings-on but in hindsight and per investigation, the attack was ‘piggybacked’ to take advantage of the incident (rioting). Again, lack of intelligence followup or at best, a refusal to acknowledge or understand the depth of the problem at hand.

  • Derek2mk

    A former Watchstander, MSG Det TLV, B Co, MSG BN

  • mrparker1

    If BillyJeff had done his job instead of “counseling” interns, he would’ve removed binLaden before 9/11 happened. Khobar towers, Kenyan and Tanzanian bombings, USS Cole, other attacks occurred under his watch. He was handed binLaden more than a few times and refused to “arrest” or kill binLaden.
    The 9/11 report was about 8 months of the Bush Administration and about 8 years of Clinton’s failed regime.
    BO throws the intelligence community under the bus in Libya to save their failing campaign, but tries to minimize its action while stealing credit from the Special Operations and intelligence communities in the binLaden raid.

  • James Raymond

    After watching laughing boy Biden last night lie his way through this by saying “we” had heard of no requests for more security is a bald faced lie. Tell it like it is Joe you and your boss were covering your own asses in an election year with no concern for American lives. If anyone can dismiss these actions and still vote for these two traitors as far as I am concerned are traitors also.

  • Jerry Baustian

    Rice is too insignificant to bother with. But Hillary Clinton should resign, now. After all, she is the one that Obama and Biden are blaming. And they are actually right, because she was the one responsible for providing security for the ambassador.

  • Jerry Baustian

    Just because the State Department wastes billions of dollars every year does not mean that members of Congress who point out this waste are to blame for the death of the ambassador.

  • Jerry Baustian

    You have to go back to at least to the Lyndon Johnson administration to find a reasonably competent Secretary of State in a Democratic administration. No one ever accused Dean Rusk as being incompetent.

  • rev2doc

    ANYone who can callously call a baby-in-the womb a “burden” and who is the BIGGEST proponent for Planned Parenthood, adding to the 55 MILLION (+) babies’ blood to be on the TAXpayer’s hands through Obama”Care”, will…
    NEVER have ANY regard for 4 American lives who had ALREADY been attacked 2 (!!!) times in the past 6 months, and who had BEGGED to simply be able to KEEP the security force they already had…which was being TAKEN AWAY!
    OBAMA’s 1st reaction was not sorrow & sympathy…
    His natural inclination is “Self-Preservation through Lying!”
    This president not only blatanly DISregards the lives (and livelihood) of American CITIZENS…HE has BLOOD on HIS hands!