Serious questions on Benghazi
The underlying attitude
A rather restrained media comment below. No mention of the blocking of rescue efforts etc.
BLUSTER by outgoing US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is no answer to the serious questions still surrounding the al-Qa'ida attack on September 11 last year that killed four American officials in Benghazi, including US ambassador Christopher Stevens.
Criticism of Mrs Clinton, of course, has a political motive, with Republicans hoping some mud will stick and thwart any bid by her to win the presidency in 2016. But Mrs Clinton ill-serves her reputation as a hardworking and widely-admired Secretary of State by dismissively telling interlocutors: "Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided to go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?"
The answer is, it makes a lot of difference. A State Department report and other inquiries have shown the death of the first US ambassador killed on duty in 25 years resulted from systemic leadership and management failures, for which Mrs Clinton was ultimately responsible. The 9/11 anniversary assault caught the US understaffed and ill-prepared in one of the world's most hostile regions, with pleas from US officials on the ground rebuffed.
Mrs Clinton claims she didn't see cables from Stevens outlining his security concerns. Other critics say there was a naive belief by the Obama administration, amid the over-hyped expectations of the Arab Spring, that the war against al-Qa'ida and terrorism was just about over. This has been comprehensively debunked by events in Algeria and Mali, where the Timbuktu Taliban is on the march.
Mrs Clinton cannot be blamed for all these failures, but as a well-regarded secretary and potential presidential candidate, she can do better than bluster when asked legitimate questions about them.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).