Beyond Benghazi: questions for Clinton

Clinton: Responsible for broad policy failures in the entire region.

Clinton: Responsible for broad policy failures in the entire region.

By John Bolton at the New York Post:

The State Department’s Accountability Review Board last week issued a devastating report on the events leading up to the Sept. 11 assassination of four Americans at our Benghazi consulate. Unfortunately, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has still not faced questioning by Congress or the media more than three months after the tragedy.

A series of excuses has conveniently allowed her to escape cross examination until after the ARB report was released. Clinton sails right along, now preparing the first steps for what is widely expected to be her 2016 presidential campaign.

Last week, however, Sen. Bob Corker asserted that no new secretary of state be confirmed until Clinton testifies. Corker, ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee starting in January, was joined by Sen. Lindsey Graham. Their idea provides a strong incentive to committee Chairman John Kerry, now tapped as Clinton’s successor, to schedule her testimony.

The starting point for questioning Clinton is realizing that the Benghazi debacle embodies both policy and management failures. The administration’s utterly wrong-headed view of the Middle East created an atmosphere that fostered tragically erroneous management decisions. Clinton’s blithe disregard of the actual political reality in Libya and four years of not attending to seemingly mundane management issues represented a palpable failure of leadership directly contributing to the Benghazi tragedy.

The ARB did not blame specific individuals, citing instead “systemic” failures. Clinton’s deputies, testifying in her absence on Dec. 20, conceded that State had not “connected the dots” as security deteriorated in Libya and the Middle East generally.

But in any organization, there is only one “first chair,” and Clinton must answer why she (and President Obama) was so convinced that the war on terror was over and al Qaeda defeated; that “leading from behind” in overthrowing Khadafy had succeeded, and that the Arab Spring was bringing stability and democracy to Libya and the region more broadly.

The Benghazi tragedy disproved all these assertions, and Clinton is accountable for the broad policy failures, not just the deadly specifics. Congressional hearings should go well beyond the ARB report. The basic questions Clinton now must answer are straightforward: What did she know; when did she know it — and what did she do about it, before, during and after the Sept. 11 attacks? Here are some elaborations:

* Before the attack, was Clinton aware of the security threats to our consulate and other international presences in Benghazi? Did she know about repeated Tripoli embassy requests for enhanced security? If not, why not?

Libya was a centerpiece of supposed success in Obama’s foreign policy, not some country of small significance and low threat levels. It is important to establish not only the actual paper trail in this case, but even more importantly why, on such a critical foreign-policy issue, it did not automatically come to Clinton’s seventh-floor office.

* On Sept. 11, what were Clinton and Obama doing? We need a minute-by-minute chronology. When was she first told of the attack, and what was said? When and how many times did she speak with the president? What help did she ask for? Was it denied, and by whom? When did she retire for the evening?

* And in the tragedy’s aftermath, Clinton must explain how the administration came up with its story that the Benghazi attack grew out of a demonstration against the now-famous Mohammed video trailer. Clinton herself referred to the video at the Sept. 14 ceremony when the remains of the four murdered Americans returned home. On this point, the ARB was crystal clear that “no protest took place” before the attacks.

Obama will hold office for four more years, and Clinton apparently aspires to succeed him. Their worldview and its policy consequences must not be allowed to escape scrutiny as they did in the just-concluded presidential campaign. Most of the media have certainly shown little interest in exposing administration failures. Clinton’s testimony may be the last chance to do so for a long time.

State Department accountability over Benghazi worse than thought

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Upon release of the Accountability Review Board’s (ARB) report on what happened in Benghazi, it was learned that the group singled out no individuals for discipline – the bureaucracy itself was identified as the party most responsible. There were, however, four State Department employees who reportedly resigned in the wake of the report.

Aside from the fact that none of the four individuals who allegedly ‘resigned’ were individuals who claimed to accept responsibility (Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton), it appears they haven’t really resigned at all.

Via the New York Post:

The four officials supposedly out of jobs because of their blunders in the run-up to the deadly Benghazi terror attack remain on the State Department payroll — and will all be back to work soon, The Post has learned.

The highest-ranking official caught up in the scandal, Assistant Secretary of State Eric Boswell, has not “resigned” from government service, as officials said last week. He is just switching desks. And the other three are simply on administrative leave and are expected back.

The four were made out to be sacrificial lambs in the wake of a scathing report issued last week that found that the US compound in Benghazi, Libya, was left vulnerable to attack because of “grossly inadequate” security.

State Department leaders “didn’t come clean about Benghazi and now they’re not coming clean about these staff changes,” a source close to the situation told The Post., adding, the “public would be outraged over this.”

Some might remember an exchange between Rep. Sandy Adams (R-FL) and Deputy Assistant Secretary Charlene Lamb at a House Oversight Committee in October. At the time, Adams pressed Lamb for the names of those who had the authority to deny requests for security in Benghazi. Lamb named both Eric Boswell and a man named Scott Bultrowicz. For some reason, all of the video excerpts from that hearing – once posted to the Oversight committee’s YouTube channel, now get re-directed to an unrelated Darrell Issa speech but here is the exchange from another source (the relevant portion occurs within the first minute):

Ok, so Lamb admitted to Adams that the former didn’t have sole authority to deny security. She pointed up the ladder to Boswell and Bultrowicz. The next logical question is: Did they have sole authority? If yes, then the ARB report would have erred by not naming either man as being responsible for security being withheld. If no, then someone above them had that sole authority.

The Post article only names three of the four individuals that were singled out for non-disciplinary discipline / resignation / re-assignments. They are:

  1. Eric Boswell
  2. Charlene Lamb
  3. Raymond Maxwell
Via the Post:

The other officials — Deputy Assistant Secretaries Charlene Lamb and Raymond Maxwell, and a third who has not been identified — were found to have shown “performance inadequacies” but not “willful misconduct,” Pickering said, so they would not face discipline.

So who is the fourth individual? Could it be Scott Bultrowicz?

Read more at Shoebat.com

 

Criticism Mounts Over State Envoy

BY: October 5, 2012 1:48 pm

Jewish leaders expressed outrage Friday over the State Department’s praise for, and defense of, a controversial Muslim leader who has defended terrorist groups and suggested that Israel may have been responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Salam al-Marayati, founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), was picked to represent the United States government at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) annual 10-day human rights conference, the Human Dimension Implementation Meetings (HDIM).

Al-Marayati’s well-known anti-Israel bona fides prompted Jewish leaders and others to express outrage over the Obama administration’s selection.

“It is regrettable that someone with such distorted, conspiratorial views—even with a lackluster apology—is delegated by our government to represent our country abroad,” the Anti-Defamation League said in a statement to the Free Beacon.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, argued that the State Department is showing inconsistency by touting an individual who has defended the militant groups Hezbollah and Hamas, both of which are designated by the U.S. as terrorist organizations.

“One would assume that individuals selected to represent the United States at an international human rights conclave would share our government’s longstanding policy that Hamas and Hezbollah are dangerous terrorist organizations,” Cooper told the Free Beacon. “But Mr. Salam al-Marayati and his organization are long-time advocates that these deadly terror groups be removed from the U.S. terrorist list.”

“With terrorism continuing to roil the Middle East,” Cooper added, “the question is why the U.S. State Department would say he is ‘highly credible’?”

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