10/25/15

Hillary Clinton (HRC) faced 11 hours of hearing last Thursday regarding her actions before, during, and after the terrible events of September 11, 2012 in Benghazi.

While there were no earth-shattering moments, a number of important new revelations did come up and other issues were put in better focus and context.

Republicans
I am very critical of Republicans’ abilities when it comes to public performances of this type. They are not eloquent, they are not sharp and they are usually ill prepared. I was hoping for more this time due to the reputation of the chairman, Trey Gowdy; the time they had to prepare; and the focus of this hearing. It was better than normal but not as good as I expected. Based on what was revealed at the hearing, I believe they could have done a better job. Overall, I give them 7 out of 10. I was hoping for 8 or even 9, but the normal standard for Republicans is 4, so that is an improvement.

Democrats
While not at all surprising, as this is always their modus operandi, it is still shocking. Throughout this 11-hour meeting, they asked ZERO questions of the witness relevant to the issues at hand. ZERO. They spent all their time in platitudes, in running interference against the Republicans, in giving HRC the chance to say how great she was, and on and on. Not ONE question on what happened. There were some—very few—questions on the lessons and changes resulting from the event. Even those were carefully pitched to allow HRC to trumpet how great she is. Their general demeanor is aggressive toward the Republicans, rude, and vociferous. Specifically, the ranking member, Elijah Cummings, who is always shrill and simply disgusting in his level of partisanship against all facts, rudeness, and aggressiveness; simply despicable.

The Media
What can I say??? The media provided their usual combination of bias, laziness, and ignorance. Starting with MSNBC, that declared HRC won by a Total Knock Out to the more restrained CNN and Fox that declared Clinton came through unscathed (CNN) or nearly unscathed (FOX). With the exception of Fox, not ONE pundit referenced the new revelations (see below), which, while not game-changers on their own, are really damaging overall. The abdication by the media on this matter is shocking but not surprising. They do it all the time.

Benghazi/HRC
So what did we learn? There were a few new revelations and a few issues that were put in focus. All are very damaging to HRC’s integrity, competence, and leadership ability. Put together they should disqualify her for the presidency. Here are the important ones:

  • While the event was still taking place, and within FEW hours after, HRC confirmed to her family and to foreign leaders via emails and officially recorded conversations that this attack was a pre-planned terror attack and NOTHING to do with the “film.” Her words. Yet, in public she maintained the position that it was the video which was most likely to blame, and did not reject and correct what her representative (UN ambassador Rice) said on all TV networks. Why? Her only explanation is “confusion”; the information was fluid and changing. But if that was the case, why say “internet video”? Why not say, “we do not know, the investigation is just starting”? This administration is EXTREMELY adept at using that excuse to say nothing when they do not want to say anything. Why did they go down hard on the video side if there was ”confusion”? That IMPORTANT question was not asked by the panel, and a great pity it is. Having said that, it is patently clear that HRC KNEW that this was not a video-related demonstration. She said so within hours of the event. Yet she continued to promote the video theory by acts of commission (to the parents of the fallen, which is particularity disturbing) and acts of omission by not even trying to correct the disinformation generated by the administration, including her subordinates. That is CLEARLY lying. She lied to the American public. No amount of parsing of words (the Clintons are experts on that) can shelter her from the simple fact that she was not truthful with the public. She lied.
  • HRC breached the law that requires the Secretary of State (SoS) to PERSONALLY, without delegating (specifically prohibited by the law), to sign-off on non-conforming security levels for embassies or consulates in dangerous areas. That is clear-cut. Her explanation? Well, it was neither embassy nor consulate; it was a temporary outpost. If this is not parsing of words and ignoring the clear intent of the law, I do not what is. The law says that she had to approve the security level, or lack thereof. She did not.
  • Similarly, a rule established by the ARB after the attack on the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 requires the SoS to personally review security arrangements for diplomatic outposts in dangerous zones; she did not do it. Why?? HRC spent a big part of her testimony making a big issue of the ARB that cleared her after the Benghazi attack and of the importance of ARBs in general. Why did the Republicans not make a big issue out if this? I fail to understand. Why does the media not even mention it???
  • Finally, and most importantly, the two females on the Republican side of the panel did, to my mind, the most damage to HRC by exposing her total lack of competence, compassion, and leadership abilities. Consider the following:
    • HRC was not even sure that there was still an outpost in Benghazi in early 2012, based on a contemporaneous email from a department of state aide. She denies it, but there is no reason to think that the aide was inventing it.
    • Having sent her “handpicked” (according to her) representative to a very dangerous assignment in Benghazi, back in 2011 she NEVER spoke to him even once after that, until…well, until never. He died there not having spoken to his boss who sent him on a dangerous assignment for 18 months.
    • Asked why was security so lax and why 600, I repeat SIX hundred, written requests from the ambassador and his team for more security were rejected, her only response was, “I was not aware of it. Security was handled by the experts, and I would not presume to challenge them.” Really? Is that not EXACTLY what the job of a leader is? To hear the experts and then make a DECISION? Why was she not even aware of it? Was it not important enough? Why did she pay close attention to emails from her “friend” Sidney Blumenthal on Libya matters but not to her ambassador on the ground???
    • Why was there an outpost in Benghazi? All other Western representations there were closed in the months before the attack due to repeated security risks and breaches. The UK, the UN, the Red Cross; everyone was gone. The US outpost was attacked many times before. Why were they still there? HRC’s answer? No one recommended that we close it. Really? Again, is that what a leader does? Sit passively and wait for others to recommend rather than lead and demand based on information provided (she confirmed that, of course, she was aware of all the other embassies pulling out)?
    • Why did she not talk to the survivors for months and months after the event? Not a word of compassion, not a word of caring. NOTHING.
    • Most damaging, why did she go home that evening, leaving her staff in the office handling an ONGOING attack and a search for a missing ambassador? Can you even imagine such a thing? The leader of the department—and one aspiring to be the leader of the free-world—is going home to sleep when there is an attack in progress on one of his or her outposts? Why did she not talk to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff? To the Secretary of Defense? Why did she leave it to her underlings to talk to their underlings?? Can one imagine a less leadership-like quality, going home to sleep while the events are unfolding and her staff remains on the watch??

The picture of HRC that is being shown by her handling of this crisis is of a complete and total bureaucrat, devoid of any compassion or leadership skills, who is there to be a figurehead without any influence on events. If they do not get recommendations from their staff, they do nothing. If they do get recommendations, they endorse them without any critical thinking. She surrounded herself with a select few assistants who create a wall of protection around her so that no one could penetrate—not even if they try 600 times and not even if the law says that she should make the decision: “there was no recommendation.”

What the EFF do we need her for then? Let’s just appoint her staff and be done with it!!

That this great country can only come up with HRC on the one hand and possibly (hopefully not) Donald Trump on the other hand as the candidates for the most important job in the world is terrifying.