Deflecting Blame in Benghazi

The first thing to remember concerning Benghazi is that it’s all about protecting Hillary Rodham Clinton, her persona, her viability, and electability. Second, on a separate, but equal level, it’s about protecting, deflecting, and keeping the responsibility away from President Obama. As a consequence of failed U.S. foreign policy in Libya, Benghazi also has Obama’s responsibility, integrity, and competence all over it.  As commander-in-chief he ultimately owns our national security and foreign policy, its successes and its failures, as any president does. Obama hired his National Security team and is ultimately responsible for their actions, decisions, conduct, and shortcomings, particularly when it comes to safety, security, and well-being of his employees.

Hillary Clinton’s primary responsibility regarding the U.S. State Department was to implement and manage the nation’s foreign policy. Clinton was responsible for everything that happened up until the time of the attack. By her own doing, she created a false narrative to blur her lack of action and responsibility by obfuscating and obstructing the actual cause of the attack, i.e.; the video story. That added to and highlighted her incompetence, and her attempt to cover up her and her agency’s failed response and reaction to address the grave and deteriorating security situation in Benghazi and at the CIA facility, despite more than 600 requests for help to the State Department from Ambassador Stevens and his embassy staff. Clinton’s response and excuse, as we heard in the testimony, was to throw her subordinate officials under the bus, and to blame Republicans and the committee for asking the pertinent questions in the committee’s ongoing search for an explanation.

President Obama was and is also ultimately responsible for Ms. Clinton’s aloofness and lack of resolve in addressing the problems facing her team in Libya. However, Obama is also responsible for any follow-up reaction. His vacancy during a critical and drastic crisis situation that night for roughly 12-hours from the time the attack started, to the next morning, when he jumped on Air Force One to leave Washington to campaign and fundraise in Vegas, is in itself despicable. He failed to be engaged and take the lead; to meet with and ask the necessary critical and timely questions of his national security team and his military and intelligence leaders about immediate and impending options to do something. 

As commander-in-chief, Mr. Obama had three options: 1. Go -- meaning to immediately action to respond send forces in an attempt to counter/repelled the attack, and to do whatever possible to secure and protect Americans in-harms-way. 2. No Go -- meaning to Stand Down, certainly with justification. 3. Do nothing and say nothing, or to ignore the situation. Number 2 and 3 carry the same weight, and those options bear the consequences of failure, lack of resolve, indignation for the lives and well-being of the Americans who died and, or were severely injured. And with that, the added tag of failed leadership and insurmountable incompetence, and perhaps even contempt. Until Mr. Obama, with forthrightness and a truthful explanation reveal his actions and orders given, or not given -- he owns this reprehensible disaster.  As for Ms. Clinton, she created the blueprint that led to it. That is both their legacies to American foreign policy, American resolve, and whatever the perception of America there is in the eyes of the world. 

That 3 a.m. phone call that we heard so much about in the past two election cycles is still unanswered, and the plug on the answering machine has been ripped out of the wall.  But it’s still not too late for Americans to review their options... and answer the phone with their own recommendation.

The writer is a retired USAF Colonel and a 30-years career senior intelligence and political-military affairs officer. He served as Deputy Director for Intelligence for U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) and is a former White House National Security Council staffer. He lives in Dover, FL.