7 reasons why Benghazi matters

It’s been almost a year and a half since the terrorist attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya. Four Americans tragically died in the concerted attack orchestrated by Islamic radicals of Ansar al-Sharia, an offshoot of al Qaeda.

But unfortunately, that is not the story we’ve been told for the last year and a half by our government.  We’ve been told that four Americans died at the hands of a protest over a YouTube video gone awry.  As Hillary Clinton questioned, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

Actually, it makes a lot of difference.  Here are the seven big reasons why Benghazi matters.

1. People died.

At its most basic level, our government must do everything possible to understand what went wrong in order to learn from the tragedy of losing American lives.  That’s the least they can do.

The reasons as to how this was able to happen remain circumspect.

  • Was there proper security provided to our diplomats in this highly volatile region? Hillary Clinton’s State Department has been questioned on this front.
  • Did we fail to heed warnings of possible attacks on the anniversary of September 11th? Was it a failure of intelligence or policy or a combination of both?
  • Did we do everything we could to aid our diplomats under siege? According to testimony from retired Air Force Brigadier General Robert Lovell, who was the former U.S. Africa Command intelligence director during the attack, “we should have tried.”  Who then gave the order to stand down?

Perhaps all of these questions have been answered behind the scenes, but it matters that we understand the breakdown on all levels so as to learn from this and ensure that future Americans serving our country do not suffer the tragic fate of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Ty Woods, Glen Doherty and Sean Smith.

2. They knew from the beginning it was terrorism and who was responsible.

Thanks to information that has only recently come to light, it is clear that our government knew very early on that the situation in Benghazi was an attack, or as Gen. Lovell stated, “a hostile action.” They knew that “this was no demonstration gone terribly awry.”

New emails reveal that the State Department also knew almost immediately who was responsible: “When he said his government suspected that former Gaddafi regime elements carried out the attacks, I told him [the Libyan ambassador] that the group that conducted the attacks Ansar al-Sharia is affiliated with Islamic extremists.”

Testimony from others like Gregory Hicks, former deputy chief of mission in Libya who became the acting ambassador when Chris Stevens was killed, tell a similar tale. He would know; he was there and reporting back to Washington.

This could have, and should have, been the story the world was told if truth and transparency meant something to those in charge. But it wasn’t the story we got. Enter: the YouTube video.

3. The White House pushed the YouTube lie.

One of the main questions all along is where did the administration get this narrative about a YouTube video?  They initially tried to pin the blame on botched intelligence sources, but we now know that to be untrue.

We’ve come to learn that the Internet video lie was inserted into the official government talking points by none other than the White House itself. An email written by White House official Ben Rhodes, Obama’s current deputy national security adviser, shows him giving input on the infamous talking points that U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice would then use on her five appearances on the Sunday talk shows. One of the “goals” listed in the email is “to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”

4. The administration orchestrated the lie in order to keep power.

Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, Jay Carney – top administration officials ran with this narrative, rather than telling the truth. This represents coordinated spin at the highest level. Why? Since they won’t tell us, we must speculate that it was an attempt to change the narrative in order to make sure it didn’t derail Obama’s re-election just weeks later.

Their mission was accomplished, but came with the price of the loss of integrity, transparency and credibility for the executive office. It’s the ugly kind of “politics” for the gain of power – Obama maintaining the presidency. That makes many Americans queasy, and it’s even worse when you consider the kind of person (Hillary Clinton) who could stand in front of caskets and lie to the families about why their sons are dead.

5. Getting information has been difficult (a trend with this administration).

Gaining answers into what happened in Benghazi has been a frustrating exercise in oversight. At a time when mistrust in the government is historically high, failure to properly adhere to our system of checks and balances doesn’t do it a lot of favors.

The emails that were released within the last week were because of a lawsuit brought by a citizen’s group, Judicial Watch. But an important question remains: why didn’t the administration turn over this information to Congress when it asked for Benghazi-related documents, including the crafting of the talking points?

The failure to turn over pertinent documents, the inability to talk directly with witnesses and other issues have many believing that the administration is trying its hardest to prevent the truth from being revealed.  As a citizen, that is worrisome.

6. The continued spin is absurd.

Now that the information is out there, the administration continues to lie and spin. Press Secretary Jay Carney actually tried to convince reporters, and the American people, that the emails released were not related to Benghazi specifically but an overall assessment of the region. Nice try, Jay.

Then we have Obama’s former spokesman for the National Security Council, Tommy Vietor, whose spin tactic was to make Benghazi seem like a non-issue that happened so long ago that it is absurd we are still talking about it. Vietor cavalierly quipped to Fox News’ Bret Baier, “Dude, this was like two years ago.”  They won’t even take the issue seriously, which isn’t sitting well with many Americans. The truth has no expiration date.

7. Benghazi exposes much of the media as lapdogs.

Making matters worse, the media has been willing to peddle this spin from the White House.  Those who demand answers – Fox News, former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson – have been mocked and pigeon-holed.  What little information that has trickled from the White House and intelligence community hasn’t exactly made headlines in the mainstream press.

That may be now changing.

The public should be asking more questions demanding transparency. Truth and facts matter and without them, it’s all just a bunch of manufactured spin and we lack the ability to critically asses the information ourselves and come away with conclusions. This used to be the role of the media, because they had the access to demand these answers, but Benghazi has highlighted their woeful failure on this front.

There’s a reason why lying (under oath) is considered an impeachable offense, and that’s because we need some sort of punishment to enforce the fact that lying is not OK. The truth matters in government because the credibility of the whole system is at stake in its absence. A society cannot function properly with such a healthy dose of mistrust.


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