From 5/9/13

I watched the majority of the hearing in the House yesterday on Benghazi. Bottom line, it was disappointing. If we were expecting some serious revelations, allegations, finger pointing etc., there was no such thing. There were some nuggets, but honestly nothing new. There were three participating groups in the hearing:

Democrats
As always, generally as a group, they were very eloquent. What is not new but still very surprising is how partisan they were. They spent their time doing two things:

  • – making aggressive, even rude, partisan personal attacks on Republicans in general, and Chairman Issa in particular. It is shocking to hear such ferocious language and even more shocking, hearing the compete silence from the Republicans on the receiving end, and the media spectators. If Republicans were to talk like that, they would be accused of being bullies, inciting violence, and being partisan. Democrats get a pass.
  • – teeing up the questions so well, narrowly defined and aggressively, that the timid witnesses’ response had to be self-serving to the Democrats’ partisan talking points.

The one thing they did not do? Tried to get to the bottom of what happened, to the truth. Zero effort and zero interest. Lip service galore but nothing constructive.

Witnesses

Frankly, very disappointing. There are three people who voluntarily came to testify. They wanted to have their say. All three have many years in public service, education, and experience. You would have thought that they would have something more to say, something more worthwhile. They were timid at times, not eloquent (especially the ex-military guy who at times was barley understood), and generally sounded like they were parsing every word and were trying to be as non-committal as possible. There were some riveting moments, but while emotional and touching, they did not reveal any dramatic new facts. Why did they want to come and testify?

Republicans

Bunch of losers. I have no other words for this group of non-eloquent, unprepared, lacking direction, and generally time wasters. They are the majority. They called the hearing—why were they not more organized, coordinated, and prepared? They could have and should have been significantly more pointed with their questions. Surely they can meet between themselves prior to the hearing and decide who takes the lead and who carries it further, given time constraints. Surely they could have made their point about who is at fault here better. Or maybe there is nothing there, there? There were a few nuggets, a few interesting new elements, such as the account of the lawyer from Department of State who accompanied Rep. Chaffetz’s visit to Benghazi and was supposed to be his minder—clearly an interesting and suspicious fact but that is about it.

Here is what happened in Benghazi:

Background

One needs to remember that this is the MOST isolationist administration in the last 100 years. One needs to remember that EVERYTHING and ANYTHING that they do has one goal in mind—get away from conflict, run, disengage, and stay at the back. Further, this is an administration that really believes in its own hype. They really believe that they can talk their way into convincing EVIL not to do evil, or at least not to do evil to US. To top it all off, this is at the height of the election campaign when the goal— reelection—is the focus of everyone and everything is sacrificed for it.

Before the Attack

For months, there were many warning signs about the situation in Benghazi. Other diplomatic missions were attacked, other countries left Benghazi, and the Department of State’s own experts on the ground demanded more protection. It all fell on deaf ears, due to the frame of mind described, that of disengagement, and “talk.” There was no mood to add muscle, and according to the administration, no need. It was a preconceived mindset. Do not confuse me with facts; my mind is made up type of attitude. Is it a justification to what happened? Of course not. Is it criminal? No. Is it negligent? Probably. But it is a result of a policy, frame of mind, and no evil intent. You punish such things by holding them accountable at the ballot box.

Cairo 9/11/2012

The events of Cairo earlier on that date are very important to understand what happened in Benghazi. To restate: in the morning (all Middle East times) of 9/11, a demonstration against the U.S. embassy in Cairo got out of hand. The accepted wisdom is that this demonstration erupted because of the famous video (ridiculous by the way). It became a big deal with the embassy issuing an apology for the video, the department of state retracting that apology, but then going on to make a big deal out of this video.

During the Attack

Taking the background above and the events of Cairo, it is clear why the initial thinking in Washington was that this was another demonstration that got out of hand. When the president met with the SOD and COJCS for a PREARRANGED meeting on other matters at about 11:00 pm (Benghazi time), he was not too interested in what happened in Benghazi. This was just another event of the day following Cairo (and I think in Pakistan too). While there was confusion at the time and clearly the attack went further than Cairo, there was no knowledge at the time that the ambassador was dead. So no one paid any attention. In retrospect, it is clear that a more aggressive muscular response was called for. It is also clear from the facts, if you peel off all the political hype on both sides, that there was nothing that could have been done militarily that would have changed the outcome. This was a premeditated and well-planned attack and no intervention could have avoided even the second phase, let alone the first one.

So was there a wrong reading of the facts? Yes. Lack of decorum, sensitivity, and leadership by continuing the election campaign within hours as if nothing happened? Yes. But there was nothing that could have been done at the time to prevent what happened. Yet this is THE POINT. Why was it that the U.S. was and still is so WEAK in the Mediterranean Sea area, especially North Africa? This was 9/11, this was after the Arab spring had erupted, and this was after the U.S. gave some limited support to the toppling of Gaddafi. WHY WERE THERE NO MILITARY OPTIONS? That is the question. That is the failure. For an answer, see above: background. It is the mindset and policy of this administration to not get involved, and as such, its interests and its diplomats in vulnerable areas are at great risk.

After the Attack: The Cover Up

As always, the cover up is worse than the sin. Having initially assumed that this was a continuation of the demonstration event from Cairo, the president and the secretary of state all went on with their normal lives and mostly on with the re-election campaign, as if this was an unfortunate event, but no big deal. There was no INITIAL intent to collude on a cover up. It was only as more and more information started filtering through, probably late on the 13th of September or early on the 14th, that they began to understand what a colossal screw up they had on their hands. This was a terror attack and they dealt with it as if it was an unfortunate accident.

It was then, late on Friday the 14th, that the president’s political machine as well as that of the Secretary of State’s took over and like so many other times when they dictated actual policy, decided that they would double up on the video /demonstration story. They knew it was rubbish. But they assumed that with the help of a willing media and confusion, coupled with some muzzling of some low-level officials, they could get away with it. They were right. They did get away with it. They created enough confusion for the president to get reelected. The fact that the president talked from both sides of his mouth—that is nothing new. He always does that. Going to the UN two weeks after the attack and making the video the centerpiece of his speech to the General Assembly of the UN is shameful but typical. So was there a cover up? Sure there was. Not starting on the date of the event, but starting a few days later when they suddenly realized that they were wrong. Rather than admitting being wrong, they doubled up. That was and is typical for this president. He is never wrong. It is always someone else’s fault.

To sum it all up—it is the president’s isolationist policy that was behind the loss of life in Benghazi, as it is behind the loss of life in Syria, as it is behind the deterioration in both Iraq and Afghanistan. As it is behind the disaster that will befall the world if Iran achieves its goal for nuclear weapons. As it is behind the aggressive expansionist moves by China that may very well lead one day to a World War.

Four Americans lost their life in Benghazi. Many, many more will lose their lives as a result of his badly misconceived policy of ignoring the evil that exists in this world.