In July, President Barack Obama accused Republicans of obsessing over “phony scandals” involving the White House — including Benghazi. Apologists for his administration have increasingly dismissed last year’s terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Libya as “old news.”
But the Benghazi news sounded freshly appalling Sunday night as CBS’ “60 Minutes” revealed new details about the staggering neglect and ineptitude that led to the deaths of four Americans — including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens — on Sept. 11, 2012.
And Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., rightly kept Benghazi in the news Monday by warning that he will block administration nominations for federal government positions until Benghazi survivors appear before Congress.
Sen. Graham, who has been admirably tenacious on this authentic scandal, said on “Fox & Friends”: “I’m tired of hearing from people on TV and reading about stuff in books” in his effort to fill in the blanks about what went so terribly wrong on that bloody night. He is calling for a joint select committee from several Senate panels to finally find answers to the crucial questions that the administration has been dodging for more than a year.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney responded to Sen. Graham’s notice Monday with the familiar refrain that Republicans are “playing politics” with Benghazi: “I think it’s unfortunate to hold up any nominee or any nomination process. And when it comes to doing so for this reason, I think I’ve noted the considerable cooperation that the administration has provided on these issues.”
The “considerable cooperation” claim is laughable from an administration that has consistently obstructed congressional efforts to get the Benghazi facts.
And while delays in the nomination process really are unfortunate, the failure to heed repeated warnings about the dangers to Americans in Benghazi, and ongoing efforts to duck responsibility for that grave mistake, are downright disgraceful.
Also shameful: The administration perpetuated the self-serving myth that the brutal, well-coordinated assault was not a terror attack but a “spontaneous protest” over an obscure anti-Islam video.
You don’t have to take Sen. Graham’s word for that. You can review this indisputable account from CBS’ Lara Logan on “60 Minutes” Sunday night:
“Contrary to the White House’s public statements, which were still being made a full week later, it’s now well established that the Americans were attacked by al-Qaida in a well-planned assault.”
Ms. Logan interviewed, among others with direct knowledge of the Benghazi debacle, Green Beret Lt. Col. Andy Wood, a high-ranking U.S. security official in Libya. Ms. Logan reported that Lt. Col. Wood issued frequent warnings about the terrorists’ intent to “attack the Red Cross, the British and then the Americans in Benghazi.”
Col. Wood said that after the first two targets were hit by the terrorists, he told State and Defense Department officials: “The attack cycle is such that they’re in the final planning stages.”
Yet his appeals to “shut down” the Benghazi facility or at least upgrade security there were rejected or ignored. Three months later, the terrorists launched their murderous assault.
More than four months after that, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a Senate committee: “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided to go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?”
Mrs. Clinton added: “It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again.”
But that job, which does make a difference, remains unfinished.
And only when that overdue task is done will the truth — and the lessons — of Benghazi be fully learned.