Congress must pursue trail on Benghazi
Much of what the administration has said about the Benghazi attack has been shown to be false.
The September 2012 terrorist attack on a United States diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, represents one of the greatest disasters in this country's diplomatic history. Four people were killed, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, buildings were burned and the perpetrators have so far escaped without punishment.
That's why it's astonishing that the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and State Department investigators have now concluded that no one in the department who oversaw what transpired did anything that requires disciplinary action. As a result, four State Department employees have been told they can return to work after serving what amounts to a 10-month paid vacation.
The four employees may well have, as a State Department investigation determined, engaged in no wrongdoing or breached any duty. But they certainly served as effective scapegoats to take the heat off of the higher-ups who ignored requests for increased security in Beghazi and then ran for cover when disaster ensued.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may well have captured the public mood when she discounted the importance of a follow-up congressional investigation into what happened.
What difference does it make now, she angrily declared when pressed on the issue by a member of Congress.
But that attitude falls considerably short of recognizing this country's duty to its fallen foreign service officers. If lives are lost because higher-ups are negligent, shouldn't there be some accountability?
The official response to that is no, at least not in this case.
The Benghazi incident has been bizarre from the get-go. President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton both initially described the attack as a protest that grew out of control and blamed an American who made an unflattering film about Muslims. That explanation was subsequently demonstrated to be false.
Al-Qaida operatives carried out the assault on the anniversary of 9/11. Both Stevens and his predecessor had repeatedly asked top State Departments officials, including Clinton, for increased security at the consulate, and their requests were denied. Diplomats from other countries left Benghazi because it wasn't safe.
Even now, the administration is not forthcoming about what really was happening at Benghazi, although media reports suggest the CIA was engaged in some kind of clandestine activity smuggling missiles to Syrian rebels.
The initial cover-up was so transparently false that it's hard not to conclude that administration officials were covering the tracks of a national security operation that went bad because of inadequate resources provided from Washington. The deaths of the four Americans compounded the national security issue by creating a political problem on the eve of the November 2012 election, and no one in charge has been telling the truth about it since then.
The multiple deceptions, the scapegoating of four employees who were initially vilified but now cleared, the four deaths and the consulate's destruction demand an accounting. Since the Obama administration is determined not to provide one, Congress must pursue its oversight responsibilities and follow the trail wherever it leads.