Defense & National Security

Declassified testimony exposes the depth of the Administration’s Benghazi flapdoodle

Declassified testimony exposes the depth of the Administration's Benghazi flapdoodle

I know, I know: WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE?  But here’s yet more proof that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were deliberately, vigorously, and copiously lying about the nature of the Benghazi attack, courtesy of James Rosen at Fox News:

Minutes after the American consulate in Benghazi came under assault on Sept. 11, 2012, the nation’s top civilian and uniformed defense officials — headed for a previously scheduled Oval Office session with President Obama — were informed that the event was a “terrorist attack,” declassified documents show. The new evidence raises the question of why the top military men, one of whom was a member of the president’s Cabinet, allowed him and other senior Obama administration officials to press a false narrative of the Benghazi attacks for two weeks afterward.

Gen. Carter Ham, who at the time was head of AFRICOM, the Defense Department combatant command with jurisdiction over Libya, told the House in classified testimony last year that it was him who broke the news about the unfolding situation in Benghazi to then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The tense briefing — in which it was already known that U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens had been targeted and had gone missing — occurred just before the two senior officials departed the Pentagon for their session with the commander in chief.

According to declassified testimony obtained by Fox News, Ham — who was working out of his Pentagon office on the afternoon of Sept. 11 — said he learned about the assault on the consulate compound within 15 minutes of its commencement, at 9:42 p.m. Libya time, through a call he received from the AFRICOM Command Center.

General Ham’s testimony makes it blindingly clear that absolutely no one in the defense or intelligence committees ever thought Benghazi was a “spontaneous video protest,” as the Administration would go on to claim for weeks, including that infamous marathon round of the Sunday shows by then-UN Ambassador Susan Rice.

Perhaps the media knew General Ham’s testimony would soon be declassified when they tried to stir up a little cloud of disinformation a few weeks ago, with stories about how people in Libya were aware of the YouTube Video of Doom, so maybe it’s understandable that Obama and Clinton thought an impromptu demonstration got out of hand, suddenly someone said “Hey, let’s go home and get our heavy weapons and see if we can kill the U.S. Ambassador,” and the next thing you know, mortar shells were raining all over the place.

No, it’s clear there was never any logical reason for anyone in the Administration to entertain that absurd scenario, but there were plenty of political reasons to concoct the story.  Benghazi revisionist history ignores Obama’s clear motives for pushing the “spontaneous protest” line: he was scared to death he’d be asked about his conduct on the night of September 11, 2012, he desperately needed to keep his “al-Qaeda decimated” line alive, and he wanted the attack to look like a bolt from the blue that Hillary Clinton and her State team could not possibly have anticipated.

The morning of September 13 saw growing terror from the Administration that Mitt Romney was going to hammer Obama over the sacking of the embassy in Cairo, and the embarrassing way it was handled; the truth about Benghazi might have finished them off.  Obama and his political team are great believers in the danger of scandal intensity – they think they can survive anything if they drag it out long enough, give their partisans a chance to rally in the media, and keep the public from reaching a critical mass of white-hot outrage.  They said whatever crazy things were necessary to drag themselves through a few crucial news cycles, without any great concern for the drafts of history that would be written after Obama’s re-election.

Don’t forget, Hillary Clinton promised the families of the Benghazi dead she would nail the guy who made the awful video that got them killed.  President Obama went on to give a speech to the United Nations in which he famously declared, “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam,” rather than railing against the filthy terrorists who dared to slaughter an American ambassador and his heroic defenders on the anniversary of 9/11.  Those aren’t modest, understandable errors made while analyzing a mass of conflicting intelligence.  It’s pure politics, and an insult to the slain.

The declassified testimony reveals that General Ham was specifically asked about unrest related to the “Innocence of Muslims” video by House Armed Services Chairman “Buck” McKeon (R-CA):

“In your discussions with General Dempsey and [Defense Secretary Leon] Panetta,” McKeon asked, “was there any mention of a demonstration or was all discussion about an attack?” Ham initially testified that there was some “peripheral” discussion of this subject, but added “at that initial meeting, we knew that a U.S. facility had been attacked and was under attack, and we knew at that point that we had two individuals, Ambassador Stevens and Mr. [Sean] Smith, unaccounted for.”

Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, a first-term lawmaker with experience as an Iraq war veteran and Army reserve officer, pressed Ham further on the point, prodding the 29-year Army veteran to admit that “the nature of the conversation” he had with Panetta and Dempsey was that “this was a terrorist attack.”

Defense Secretary Panetta does not seem to have been under any illusions about a “spontaneous video protest,” and neither were senior State Department officials, one of whom curtly informed the House Armed Services Committee “that was not our conclusion” when asked if they ever bought the protest story.  Alas, none of these individuals saw fit to speak up and inform the American people, back when it would have made a difference.

The sheer pettiness of the Administration’s political spin helped them escape the consequences of this scandal.  A lot of people don’t want to believe the President and his top officials would blatantly lie about something like this, for the most unlovely of reasons.   White House spokesman Jay Carney is still lying furiously about what he said, claiming in response to today’s Fox News story that his Administration was always honest about the nature of the attack, when there is copious video footage to the contrary.  Just forty seconds into the video below, you’ll see Jay Carney claiming on 9/14/2012 that the Benghazi attack was a response to the YouTube video… but now he’ll look you straight in the eye and claim he never said any such thing.  (Hat tip to John Sexton of Breitbart News for the video.)

It matters that these people said the false things they said, back when this was a white-hot story they needed to cool down.  It matters that they lied to the American people, for no purpose relating to the security of anything but their jobs.  You can bet they’ll do it again, given an opportunity.  The only lesson they learned from Benghazi was how to keep the truth locked away in a cellar until it starves to death.

Update: There’s news about the media’s other attempt to obfuscate the truth of Benghazi for the benefit of the Hillary Clinton 2016 campaign, as no less a Democrat partisan than Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) declared herself unwilling to buy the New York Times’ effort to make it look like al-Qaeda had nothing to do with the attack.  She added that the “spontaneous video protest” story “doesn’t jibe with me,” although presumably it jibed during the months of September, October, and November 2012, at least well enough to keep her quiet.

Sign Up