Bhengazi Attack Under Review in Washington; Congressional Hearings Continue

U.S. Capitol file photo

In the wake of a scathing Administrative Review Board (ARB) report, Congressional hearings continue on security lapses leading up to the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya.  The attacks, including fires from arson, killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stephens.

Part I: State Department’s highest ranking foreign service officers, William Burns and Thomas Nides before House Foreign Affairs Committee

Part II: State Department’s highest ranking foreign service officers, William Burns and Thomas Nides before House Foreign Affairs Committee

 Bhengazi Consulate Attack Report: Senate Foreign Relations Committee

The ARB report confirmed that the attacks on the consulate were never a protest, and were never other than a security-related problem, i.e., a military-type terrorist attack.  It also confirmed that security had been inadequate, despite repeated requests for more security and the upcoming anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Twenty-nine recommendations were made by the report, of which several are classified.

The report dabbled in issues about funding, but concluded that there was a failure of leadership up to high levels, as well as other shortcomings in organizational management.

It appears that an old tactic of excusing failures by seeking more money for the entity that failed is afoot. At the same time, it has been pointed out that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who had little substantive background for her role prior to assuming it, and emphasized such things as so-called “smart power,” had been emphasizing culinary diplomacy and climate change advocacy rather than the nuts and bolts of security.

Critics of the Obama Administration question whether there was a deliberate attempt to cover up the nature of the attack, leading up to the election.  Early on, President Barack Obama and his administration emphasized the notion that a protest had broken out over a youtube video ridiculing Muhammed, the founder of Islam.

The major focus now, by the ARB report, as well as recent and ongoing hearings, is on the failure to provide more adequate security for the U.S. facilities, either leading up to the anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in general, after repeated requests for increased security, and after the attack already was underway.

On Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, the State Department announced the resignation of Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Eric Boswell.  Three other unnamed officials have been “relieved of their current duties” according to a State Department spokesperson.

According to the Los Angeles Times:

The State Department said Wednesday night that three officials who had been criticized by the investigative board were giving up their jobs and that Eric Boswell, head of the Diplomatic Security bureau, agreed to resign. The three others were “relieved of their current duties” and have been “placed on administrative leave pending further action,” a department statement said.

The statement didn’t identify the three, but other officials said they include Charlene Lamb, a deputy assistant secretary in the Diplomatic Security bureau, and Raymond Maxwell, a deputy assistant secretary in the Near Eastern Affairs bureau.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has avoided testifying after reportedly fainting from stomach flu and suffering a concussion, is expected to testify at a later point, perhaps in January.  She already had indicated in that past that she was stepping down from her appointment, and that might already have happened by the time she testifies.  Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, is being regarded as a possible replacement, after U.S. Ambassador the United Nations Susan Rice pulled out of consideration, in part because of criticism over Rice providing false information publicly about the nature of the attacks.

The January hearing Rodham Clinton is targeting apparently is to address foreign policy generally, not Benghazi.

Rodham Clinton was largely unknown until her husband Bill Clinton was elected President in 1992.  Her major professional background was to be a small-city lawyer in Little Rock, Arkansas, with her husband as governor or state attorney general. After her husband’s election to the White House, both she and her husband were immediately awash in scandal and tragedy, including the Whitewater scandal; questions about a huge profit she made in futures trading; the suicide shooting of her law partner Vince Foster on the shores of the Potomac, accompanied by anecdotal accounts of persons at the White House scrambling to remove files; alleged campaign irregularities in 1996, including alleged involvement by Red China; and ongoing marital infidelities by Bill Clinton, including adulterous fraternization with an intern inside the Oval Office itself.  After lying about the matter, Bill Clinton would be disbarred and impeached by the House, but narrowly avoided being removed from office by the Senate.

Rodham Clinton later would be elected to the U.S. from New York, with no real ties to the state, and no credible basis to hold such office other than having been the wife of Bill Clinton.  In other words, had she been an unmarried lawyer from Little Rock, and then shown up in New York wanting to run for the U.S. Senate, without even really living there to boot, the idea of her running would have been absurd.  After then serving in what observers generally regarded as a figurehead role with no accomplishments, she became Secretary of State, part of what critics called “amateur hour” by the Obama administration.

John Kerry, for his part, could encounter public embarrassment if he is nominated for Secretary of State, dredging up some of the revelations brought out by the Swift Boat Veterans, and others, during Kerry’s failed 2004 presidential run.  The revelations related to what turned out to be somewhat limited time in Vietnam, and the facts surrounding his return home, followed by his wildly accusatory anti-military Congressional testimony as a supposedly random veteran, who actually was a son of privilege with political ambitions.

Regarding Bhengazi, Senator Jim Inhofe said on facebook:

It is clear to me that there is still a cover-up going on with what truly happened to our four Americans in Benghazi, and why our intelligence prior to the attacks and then our immediate response was so poor. Despite repeated warning signs and the significance of the September 11th date, our military was not placed on heightened alert …

… the Obama Administration clearly knew this was an act of terrorism within 24 hours … but continued to cover up this fact through the president’s re-election bid. The Administration’s decision to blame a YouTube video, which until their mention of it had only a few thousand views, caused heightened disruption across multiple Muslim countries that may have otherwise been prevented. The Accountability Review Board confirmed what was already apparent, which is our location in Benghazi was severely under-resourced with security equipment and personnel, but they failed to address the public’s concern for how this has been handled in the months since the attack. It leads me to conclude that since this cover up will not be discussed, this report should be dismissed.

Note that Inhofe makes the interesting point that, not only was the youtube video not related to what amounted to a military attack on the compound, the youtube video had not necessarily received a lot of attention until Obama tried to use it as a scapegoat.  There, was in fact, unrest stirred by the heightened emphasis on the video.

Additional Resources:

Deputy Secretary William J. Burns; Opening Remarks Before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs 12.20.12

As US grapples with Benghazi report, Clinton absent


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