Hillary and Libya
The policy failure goes beyond the murder of her deputies in Benghazi.
David Petraeus told Congress Friday in closed hearings that the CIA believed from the start that the September 11 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi were by terrorists. That leaves one VIP who’s still missing from Congressional scrutiny: Hillary Clinton.
GOP Congressman Peter King said Mr. Petraeus’s testimony differed from what the former CIA director told Congress immediately after the attacks. Mr. King also said Mr. Petraeus said that the CIA’s original talking points on the attacks were edited. The altered version became the basis for U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s misleading and now infamous comments blaming the attacks on a YouTube video. Both that discrepancy and the issue of the altered talking points need further digging, especially if Ms. Rice is nominated to be the next Secretary of State.
But Mr. Petraeus wasn’t responsible for lax consulate security or the U.S. policy that led to the Libya debacle. That’s Mrs. Clinton’s bailiwick. Last month in interviews from deepest Peru, the Secretary of State said “I take responsibility” for Benghazi.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sept. 12 while speaking on the Libya attack.
Except she hasn’t. She was conveniently out of the country for this week’s House Foreign Affairs hearing, and Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry refuses to hold any hearings on Benghazi. His loyalty may get him a cabinet job, while Carl Levin’s Armed Services Committee also pretends nothing much happened in Libya.
The targets of the attacks and its first victims were diplomats. Chris Stevens died of smoke inhalation in the blaze, becoming the first American ambassador killed in the line of duty in over 30 years. A junior colleague also died. These men were Mrs. Clinton’s “responsibility.” Several hours after the assault on the consulate, members of the jihadist militia Ansar al-Shariah turned on the CIA compound about a mile away, killing two of Mr. Petraeus’s men.
In Congressional hearings last month, career State officials admitted that threat warnings from Benghazi were overlooked and requests for better security turned down. They said Foggy Bottom misjudged the ability of a weak Libyan state to protect them. It’s not clear how high up the chain these concerns went, but over to you, Mrs. Clinton.
For over a week after the attacks, the Administration blamed the YouTube video. Mrs. Clinton didn’t push this misleading narrative in public as enthusiastically as Ms. Rice. Still, she bought into it. The father of Tyrone Woods, a CIA contractor who was killed in Benghazi, told media outlets last month that Mrs. Clinton tried to comfort him by promising that the U.S.-based maker of the video would be “prosecuted and arrested”—though terrorists killed his son.
Beyond the Benghazi attacks is the larger issue of the Administration’s Libya policy, a failure that Mrs. Clinton should also answer for. At the start of the Libya uprising, Washington hid behind the U.N. Security Council to resist calls for intervention. Mrs. Clinton’s department then made the mistake of agreeing to a U.N. arms embargo on both the Gadhafi regime and the rebels. This blunder forced the rebels to look elsewhere for weapons and cash, particularly Gulf states like Qatar that favored Islamist militias.