Mystery remains on Benghazi

Mystery remains on Benghazi

She came, she saw, she conquered. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's appearance before Congress shed little light on the deadly attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Libya.

Those who didn't know any better have been touting for weeks the significance of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's congressional testimony about her knowledge of and participation in the events surrounding the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Libya.

The attack was both an outrage and a tragedy, leaving four Americans dead and proving, contrary to previous administration claims, that al-Qaida is definitively alive, well and on the attack.

But the pre-hearing predictions about possible revelations emanating from Clinton's congressional appearance were sound and fury signifying nothing.

Republican congressional critics didn't lay a glove on Clinton, as she delivered a tour de force performance in which she alternately sobbed, yelled, accepted responsibility but denied blame for the horrendous security failures that left our people so vulnerable.

While Clinton, a master of give-and-take, was clearly on her game, her congressional hosts were not. Intoxicated by the sound of their own voices, they talked too much and didn't ask enough. When they did ask, Clinton acknowledged being briefed on security shortcomings but claimed to leave decisions to underlings. When they pressed, Clinton blew off their inquiries.

"What difference, at this point, does it make now?" Clinton asked in exasperation about how it was that top officials, including President Obama and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, repeatedly and mistakenly stated that the assault on the mission was the result of a demonstration that got out of hand, not a terrorist attack.

At any rate, Clinton said, she didn't know how it was that an obvious preplanned terrorist attack came to be misrepresented for a couple of weeks as a demonstration gone wrong because she had no involvement in creating the false narrative initially presented to the public.

While declaring the whole inquiry a pointless exercise in Monday-morning quarterbacking, however, Clinton unwittingly answered her own question about why members of Congress were and should be holding an oversight hearing.

"It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again ...," Clinton told a Senate panel.

She is absolutely correct. It is the administration's job to investigate what occurred both before and after the attack. That is why various post-mortems are being conducted and why disciplinary decisions have been made.

But it is not exclusively the administration's job to look into this matter.

As a separate and co-equal branch of government, Congress has as much right and duty to study this matter as the executive branch.

Indeed, as the financier of executive branch activities, including the state department, the diplomatic service and American diplomatic facilities abroad, it is the job of Congress to examine what took place, discover mistakes and take steps to see that they are corrected.

Oversight, of course, is not necessarily pleasant for those being overseen, so Clinton's pique at being questioned, lectured and sometimes scolded is to be expected.

After all, Clinton announced shortly after the Benghazi tragedy and again at Wednesday's hearing that she accepted responsibility for the bloody debacle. But the mistakes she was specifically accepting responsibility for are no clearer after the hearing than they were before.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion
Categories (2):Editorials, Opinions

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Sid Saltfork wrote on January 25, 2013 at 1:01 pm

John McCain could not have written an opinion like the NG's any better.  Nothing like partisan opinions provided by the one, and only newspaper in a university town.

Congress is made up by posturing politicians seeking to retain their positions in Congress.  The families of the four fallen asked that their deaths not be politicized; but leave it to the hypocrites to use the fallen for political gain.  They know that whatever they can do to discredit the Secretary of State now means that she will be less of a rival for the Presidency later.  Citizens can be found in contempt of Congress; but Congress has been found to be held in contempt by the citizens.