Friday, October 23, 2015

She Knew All Along

She Knew All Along

The House hearing on Benghazi reveals that Hillary Clinton’s spin about the attack was a politically expedient fiction.


By 

KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL

Updated Oct. 23, 2015 1:00 p.m. ET

2344 COMMENTS

Thanks to Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi testimony on Thursday, we now understand why the former secretary of state never wanted anyone to see her emails and why the State Department sat on documents. Turns out those emails and papers show that the Obama administration deliberately misled the nation about the deadly events in Libya on Sept. 11, 2012.

Don’t forget how we came to this point. Mrs. Clinton complained in her testimony on Capitol Hill that past Congresses had never made the overseas deaths of U.S. officials a “partisan” issue. That’s because those past deaths had never inspired an administration to concoct a wild excuse for their occurrence, in an apparent attempt to avoid blame for a terror attack in a presidential re-election year.

The early hints that this is exactly what happened after the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans cast doubt on every White House-issued “fact” about the fiasco and led to the establishment of Rep. Trey Gowdy’s select committee.

Main Street Columnist Bill McGurn on Hillary Clinton's testimony before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Photo credit: Getty Images.

What that House committee did Thursday was finally expose the initial deception. To understand the willful depth of that trickery, let’s briefly recall the history.


In early September 2012, at the Democratic National Convention, Vice President Joe Biden summarized to thunderous applause the administration’s re-election pitch: “Osama bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive.” Translation: The president had revived the economy, even as he had put “al Qaeda on the run,” as Mr. Obama put it. Five days later, four Americans in Benghazi were dead. It appeared the White House had slept through a terror attack on the anniversary of 9/11.

The administration instead immediately presented the attack as a spontaneous mob backlash to an anti-Muslim YouTube video. At 10:30 on the night of the attack, Mrs. Clinton issued a statement about the violence, blaming the video. She repeated the charge in a speech the next day. President Obama gave his own speech that day, referring to the video and refusing to use the word “terrorism.”

The next day, Mrs. Clinton mentioned the video twice more. The day after that, Press Secretary Jay Carney said: “We have no information to suggest that it was a preplanned attack.” Mrs. Clinton promised the father of one of the victims that the administration would “make sure that the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted.” In his weekly address, Mr. Obama talked about the video. When the Libyan president said there was evidence the attack was planned months in advance, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice contradicted him. She instead told five Sunday talk shows—five days after the attack—that “based on the best information we have to date,” the attack “began spontaneously” in response to “this hateful video.” Mr. Obama for two full weeks continued to talk about YouTube.

Here’s what the Benghazi committee found in Thursday’s hearing. Two hours into Mrs. Clinton’s testimony, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan referred to an email Mrs. Clinton sent to her daughter, Chelsea, at 11:12 the night of the attack, or 45 minutes after the secretary of state had issued a statement blaming YouTube-inflamed mobs. Her email reads: “Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an Al Queda-like group.” Mrs. Clinton doesn’t hedge in the email; no “it seems” or “it appears.” She tells her daughter that on the anniversary of 9/11 an al Qaeda group assassinated four Americans.

That same evening, Mrs. Clinton spoke on the phone with Libyan President Mohamed Magariaf, around 8 p.m. The notes from that conversation, in a State Department email, describe her as saying: “We have asked for the Libyan government to provide additional security to the compound immediately as there is a gun battle ongoing, which I understand Ansar as Sharia [sic] is claiming responsibility for.” Ansar al Sharia is al Qaeda’s affiliate on the Arabian Peninsula. So several hours into the attack, Mrs. Clinton already believed that al Qaeda was attacking U.S. facilities.

The next afternoon, Mrs. Clinton had a call with the Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil. The notes from it are absolutely damning. The secretary of state tells him: “We know that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack—not a protest.” And yet Mrs. Clinton, and Ms. Rice and Mr. Obama for days and days continued to spin the video lie.

In other news Thursday, Judicial Watch unveiled a new cable, sent the day after the attack, from the Defense Intelligence Agency to the State Department Command Center. It explains that the attack was carried out by a “Salafi terrorism group” in “retaliation for the killing of an Al Qaeda operative.”

The cable says “the attack was an organized operation with specific information that the U.S. Ambassador was present.” The cable included details about the group’s movements and the weapons it used in the assault.

Count on the Obama administration to again resort to blaming “confusing” and “conflicting” information at the time for its two-week spin. That was Mrs. Clinton’s flimsy excuse at the hearing. But her own conversations prove she was in no doubt about what happened—while it was still happening.

Democrats on the committee spent most of the hearing complaining that it was a waste of time and money. Quite the opposite. It was invaluable, for the clarity provided by those three emails alone.

Write to kim@wsj.com.

24 comments:

  1. "At 11:12 p.m. on the night of the attack, Sept. 11, 2012, Mrs. Clinton emailed her daughter Chelsea that, “Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an Al-Qaeda-like group: The Ambassador, whom I handpicked and a young communications officer on temporary duty w[ith] a wife and two young children. Very hard day and I fear more of the same tomorrow.” Her empathy is admirable, but presumably she was telling her daughter what she really believed."

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  2. "The committee also released a State Department summary of Mrs. Clinton’s call the next day, Sept. 12, with Egypt’s Prime Minister. “We know that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack—not a protest,” Mrs. Clinton said. The call summary then blocks out a comment by the Egyptian, to which Mrs. Clinton replies, “Your [sic] not kidding. Based on the information we saw today we believe the group that claimed responsibility for this was affiliated with al Qaeda.”"

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  3. "This matters because it precedes what became the Administration’s original story that the Benghazi attack had been motivated by an anti-Muslim Internet video (“the film,” as Mrs. Clinton put it to the Egyptian). The State Department issued a statement under Mrs. Clinton’s name on the night of the attack hinting at the video motivation:"

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  4. "“Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”

    If Mrs. Clinton was telling people privately that it was a terror attack, why hint publicly at some other motivation? Keep in mind that this was in the heat of an election campaign in which one of President Obama’s main themes was that al Qaeda was all but defeated. If an al Qaeda offshoot could kill a sitting U.S. Ambassador for the first time in 30 years, that narrative would have been shown to be false."

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  5. "The following Sunday Susan Rice, then U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., went on national television and blamed the attacks on the video. Mrs. Clinton knew that was false, yet the Secretary of State who was responsible for the safety of Ambassador Christopher Stevens never spoke up to contradict Ms. Rice’s statement. Mrs. Clinton also told the father of one of the victims that the U.S. would have the creator of the anti-Muslim video prosecuted. She was spinning the false tale there too.

    All of this is no mere game of gotcha. Mrs. Clinton’s private-public contradiction goes to the honesty of a public official whose obligation was to protect Americans and who now wants a promotion to the Oval Office. It shows that her first instinct even on a matter of life and death was to help the Administration conceal the nature of the Benghazi attack—at least until more facts came out about the terrorist assault and the video story became indefensible."

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  6. I was telling TS the other day I saw Ted Nugent and found it hilarious that he was wearing a circa 1970's T shirt of himself. Your posting of these long and then commenting to yourself kinda reminds of sweaty Teddy in that concert. Except of course for the fact that he actually did compose the songs he played.

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    1. Snap... got our wit mojo going on today I see....

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    2. Why don't you dispute these facts max?

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    3. You chided me on another page that I could watch Hillary kill Obama in Times Square and I would deny it happened. That was a particularly stupid statement, even for you. That said, the same is true in reverse here. There is an obsession about this shit with the video, and it is completely and utterly fucking irrelevant. I drew my own conclusions about Benghazi a long, long time ago and they don't flatter Hillary, or Obama. Just like with Lewinsky, the initial investigation did not yield what the Republicans wanted and they have kept digging and digging and digging to find something, anything, that they can use and McCarthy, because he's kind of an idiot, made it abundantly clear what this most recent shit show is about.

      What got the ambassador killed, IMO, was pure hubris. The put a compound there that was a soft target from the git go. They didn't want to build a fortified compound, for probably a host of reasons, and they got bit in the ass. I'm not entirely convinced the video had absolutely nothing to do with the attack, though I also don't believe it was the only motivation here. This attack was likely coming no matter what.

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    4. So you admit you made up your mind prior to the information exposed by the emails.

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    5. WOW! I'VE BEEN GOTCH'YAD BY WILLIAM! Heavens to mergatroid you are soooooooooo smart to spring that uber clever trap on me. The emails that you are soooooooooo concerned with William, did not get Chris Stevens killed, so no, the emails did not change my mind.

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    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    7. And I assume you will be surprised again when further emails emege. Or will they only be available after the election?

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    8. So Max when it comes to the videos you are saying exactly "What difference does it make" So 4.7 million dollars and a gazillion hearings later we are at the same correct point. What difference does it make about the video. Your analysis is dead on. A soft target in a hostile land. But what we did find out is this, It was Chris Stevens who pushed to have that soft target in place. It was Chris Stevens who wished to have a presence in Benghazi. And I understand why. At this point Libya was a fractured country. As madam secretary testified there was deep sectarian trouble in the western part of Libya (Tripoli). The main Body of folks who wanted a free democratic Libya were actually operating out of Benghazi. If you understand the whole situation it all makes perfect although tragic sense. Chris Stevens was in a dangerous place and he knew it. He chose to have his soft consulate, He chose to have it.

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    9. That is pretty much it Rick. This stuff with the multiple hearings is not unearthing any new. I have asked the question multiple times, "What is it this committee wants to accomplish?" The answer is typically, "SHE FUCKING LIED! THAT IS THE ENTIRE POINT!" It doesn't answer any my questions though.

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    10. I think Max that Kevin McCarthy answered that question for you.

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  7. Oh boy, we have 13 months of this campaign ahead of us.

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    1. Either way, the American people lose.

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    2. Iouman, cheer up, the next 13 months will fly by and we'll find ourselves in a bright shining tomorrow where everything's just about the same. Oh, that's what you meant isn't it?

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    3. Kinda like Reagan's "Morning in America"

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    4. "Iouman, cheer up, the next 13 months will fly by and we'll find ourselves in a bright shining tomorrow where everything's just about the same. Oh, that's what you meant isn't it?"

      The Same?.... I would say that it is getting 'Progressively' worse !

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    5. Some times I'm just sooooo transparent....

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