Friday, October 23, 2015

It Just Doesn't Matter

There is a lot of talk in the media today about how yesterday’s Benghazi hearings produced more heat than light and that there were no new revelations that emerged. The reality is that what emerged was beyond a doubt proof that the Obama Administration, including Secretary of State Clinton, played fast and loose with the truth in the immediate aftermath of the attack. It’s perfectly reasonable to assume that the reason for this dissembling was to protect President Obama’s campaign claim that Al Qaeda was irrelevant and the war on terror was essentially won. In other words, they twisted the truth about national security for political purposes.

Which makes today’s charges that the GOP has politicized the hearings more than a touch ironic. Yesterday’s hearing also confirmed that the argument Mitt Romney tried to make on the matter in 2012’s second presidential debate was accurate. We well remember how the impartial, objective moderator Candy Crowley shut down Romney’s efforts at the time and let President Obama slip off the hook.

So Romney was right about Benghazi, right about the danger of Chinese hacking, and right about Russia being a geopolitical threat. Truly a man before his time.

In case you missed yesterday’s hearing, Kimberly Strassel has captured the relevant moments in a piece in the WSJ called She Knew All Along:

What that House committee did Thursday was finally expose the initial deception. To understand the willful depth of that trickery, let’s briefly recall the history.

In early September 2012, at the Democratic National Convention, Vice President Joe Biden summarized to thunderous applause the administration’s re-election pitch: “Osama bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive.” Translation: The president had revived the economy, even as he had put “al Qaeda on the run,” as Mr. Obama put it. Five days later, four Americans in Benghazi were dead. It appeared the White House had slept through a terror attack on the anniversary of 9/11.

The administration instead immediately presented the attack as a spontaneous mob backlash to an anti-Muslim YouTube video. At 10:30 on the night of the attack, Mrs. Clinton issued a statement about the violence, blaming the video. She repeated the charge in a speech the next day. President Obama gave his own speech that day, referring to the video and refusing to use the word “terrorism.”

The next day, Mrs. Clinton mentioned the video twice more. The day after that, Press Secretary Jay Carney said: “We have no information to suggest that it was a preplanned attack.” Mrs. Clinton promised the father of one of the victims that the administration would “make sure that the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted.” In his weekly address, Mr. Obama talked about the video. When the Libyan president said there was evidence the attack was planned months in advance, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice contradicted him. She instead told five Sunday talk shows—five days after the attack—that “based on the best information we have to date,” the attack “began spontaneously” in response to “this hateful video.” Mr. Obama for two full weeks continued to talk about YouTube.

Here’s what the Benghazi committee found in Thursday’s hearing. Two hours into Mrs. Clinton’s testimony, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan referred to an email Mrs. Clinton sent to her daughter, Chelsea, at 11:12 the night of the attack, or 45 minutes after the secretary of state had issued a statement blaming YouTube-inflamed mobs. Her email reads: “Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an Al Queda-like group.” Mrs. Clinton doesn’t hedge in the email; no “it seems” or “it appears.” She tells her daughter that on the anniversary of 9/11 an al Qaeda group assassinated four Americans.

That same evening, Mrs. Clinton spoke on the phone with Libyan President Mohamed Magariaf, around 8 p.m. The notes from that conversation, in a State Department email, describe her as saying: “We have asked for the Libyan government to provide additional security to the compound immediately as there is a gun battle ongoing, which I understand Ansar as Sharia [sic] is claiming responsibility for.” Ansar al Sharia is al Qaeda’s affiliate on the Arabian Peninsula. So several hours into the attack, Mrs. Clinton already believed that al Qaeda was attacking U.S. facilities.

The next afternoon, Mrs. Clinton had a call with the Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil. The notes from it are absolutely damning. The secretary of state tells him: “We know that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack—not a protest.” And yet Mrs. Clinton, and Ms. Rice and Mr. Obama for days and days continued to spin the video lie.

A simple compare and contrast would seem to demonstrate rather conclusively that what Mrs. Clinton was saying publicly about the attacks did not at all match what she was saying “privately” (scare quotes since God only knows how many folks had access to her e-mail server by that time). Just for fun replace the last name Clinton with Cheney and imagine the uproar that such prevaricating on the reasons for the attack would have created.

However, I don’t think there will be any lasting impact from these most recent revelations. We’ve reached the point on Hillary where most people’s position are pretty well firmed up. A good chunk of the country wouldn’t trust to be a school crossing guard to say nothing of commander in chief. And an equally if not perhaps larger portion (we’ll find out for sure next November) simply doesn’t seem to care what she does (or did or plans to do). They hear the latest news from the Benghazi hearings or the FBI investigation of her e-mail and only one thought goes through their minds.