Benghazi Ghosts Haunt White House

By: Mona Charen | Posted: May 7, 2013 3:55 AM
Mona Charen

Mona Charen

My iPhone buzzes on a regular basis with "news alerts" from Politico, The Hill and other sources.

Politico provides breathless, this-cannot-wait-till-you-get-to-your desk "breaking news" sirens on every hiccup emanating from the White House. On April 22, for example, the news flash permitted me to learn without delay that "President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will on Thursday attend a memorial service for the victims of last week's explosion in West, Texas."

When three career employees of the State Department announced their intention to testify before Congress -- contradicting the Obama administration's carefully constructed storyline about events in Benghazi, Libya -- my phone was silent. News is very much in the eye of the beholder.

One of these whistle-blowers, Gregory N. Hicks, was the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Libya and reportedly the last American to see Ambassador Chris Stevens alive. His testimony about the nature of the Benghazi assault should be illuminating. Mark Thompson, deputy coordinator for the State Department's counterterrorism bureau, will apparently testify that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was keen to obscure the terror links of the attackers in Benghazi and accordingly kept the counterterrorism officers at State out of the loop in planning the response to the attack.

In anticipation of the hearings, which begin Wednesday, a few basic questions ought to be on the minds of members of Congress.

President Obama claimed repeatedly in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack that he would do everything in his power to ensure that the perpetrators are "brought to justice." During the second presidential debate, Obama said, "We are going to find out who did this, and we are going to hunt them down, because one of the things that I've said throughout my presidency is when folks mess with Americans, we go after them." Oh? For three weeks, American officials did not even visit the scene. On Oct. 18, The New York Times reported that one of the ringleaders of the attack, Ahmed Abu Khattala, was sipping a strawberry frappe on the patio of a luxury hotel and scoffing at the idea that he should go into hiding.

He was right. No one has been brought to justice, and there's little evidence that the Obama administration has made any effort. Just this past week, eight months after the attacks, the FBI released photos of three suspects. The Tashkent municipal police department could have moved faster.

If reporting by Stephen Hayes in The Weekly Standard and accounts of what the whistle-blowers will say are correct, the shaky edifice of lies that the Obama administration erected about Benghazi is about to collapse.

Whistle-blowers will confirm what has been reported before -- that the administration knew within hours of the attack that it was a terrorist act. The CIA station chief in Libya said as much. Yet -- Candy Crowley to the contrary notwithstanding -- the president and his spokesmen concocted a fairy tale about an Internet video that insulted the Prophet Muhammad and a demonstration that got out of hand. This narrative was peddled most prominently by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, but it also was mentioned by Clinton and the president himself.

White House emails released to Congress show that an interagency group, getting direction from the White House, altered the CIA's talking points to remove references to al-Qaida, jihadis and five previous attacks by terrorists on Western interests in Libya. Does anyone remember the phrase "politicizing intelligence"?

When Clinton testified before Congress on Benghazi (and ran circles around the panel), she referred repeatedly to the "ARB," the Accountability Review Board, to prove that her department had been blameless in failing to provide additional security to the consulate and in handling the aftermath. But that piece of the wall is now in danger of coming loose, as well. State's inspector general is investigating the ARB and may inquire as to why the secretary of state herself, among others, was never interviewed during its investigation.

Clinton's demand -- "What difference does it make?" -- deserves a reply. The public deserves to know if the mistakes the administration made -- conceptual, tactical or both -- contributed to the deaths of four Americans. The public also deserves to know whether the president and his agents audaciously and brazenly lied about a national security matter for political gain.

To find out more about Mona Charen and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at


Comments (8)

8:04PM MAY 8TH 2013
while terrorists attacks are horrible situations and the loss of life is terrible for the families, i rather enjoy watching conservatives whip themselves into a frenzy over conspiracy theories.
10:41PM MAY 8TH 2013
Yes, it seems form Conspiracy Theory First . . . . then let's search for any facts that marginally fit that conspiracy (and even that they can't find) . . . .sorry excuse for an investigative committee . . . .
2:51PM MAY 8TH 2013
Yeah, you must be right . . . let's see a couple of comments that came out of today's "hearings":

1 - “What we have seen over the past two weeks is a full-scale media campaign that is not designed to investigate what happened in a responsible and bipartisan way, but rather … unfounded accusations to smear public officials. I am not questioning the motives of our witnesses. I am questioning the motives of those who want to use their statements for political purposes.” - Ranking minority leader on Committee.

2- “Chairman Issa has accused the administration of intentionally withholding military assets which could have helped saved lives on the night of the attacks, I say, for political reasons. Of all the irresponsible allegations leveled over the past two weeks, this is the most troubling. And based on what our military commanders have told us, this allegation is simply untrue.” - Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Other committee comments centered around surprise that nothing new was raised in the committee hearing today - members kept waiting for something new, but nothing new emerged . . . it appears that everything mentioned today had already been looked into . . .

That withstanding . . . . this witchhunt is then totally . . . .

Pathetic . . .
12:42PM MAY 7TH 2013
U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods deserve justice.
For the first time in American history, we left men behind and did nothing to help them. Welcome to Obama's America.
11:39AM MAY 8TH 2013
Where's your guts . . . . go take your God-given guns to Benghazi and track down them killers yourself . . . . I'm sure you can do it . . . you must be able to do it . . . . because you have all the facts, and clearly know who killed them . . . . . we'll even pay your one-way trip there . . . . good luck . . . . . if there needs to be accountability, let's start with the Iraq war, George Bush and Dick Cheney and those easily provable INTENTIONAL lies . . . . I can match you three illegal Bush actions for every one questionable Obama administration move . . . and mine go right to the top . . . . torture, WMDs, outing undercover CIA agents for political purposes and the like . . . . 4,400+ U.S. military deaths in Iraq and over 100,000 civilian casualties . . . . where's your outrage over that happening under Bush's intentional lies . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
10:34AM MAY 7TH 2013
Ho hum . . . this isn't about the White House . . . . it's about the far right attempting to attack someone who they fear may run for President . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
12:39PM MAY 7TH 2013
No, this is about 4 dead Americans and left's pathetic silence and apathy.
11:26AM MAY 8TH 2013
No, it's about Hillary and her potential run for President . . . do you always lie to yourself . . .

Pathetic . . . .

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