Tuesday, February 9 , 2016, 1:59 am | Fair 49º

Mona Charen: Benghazi and the Return of the Credibility Gap

By Mona Charen | @mcharen |

Lyndon Johnson, step aside. Barack Obama is far more deserving than you ever were of the term “credibility gap.”

The latest Benghazi lie to crumble like a cigar ash was the assurance from White House spokesman Jay Carney that four State Department employees had been fired for their mishandling of the situation following an internal report that found security to have been “grossly inadequate.” On Dec. 20, Carney told reporters, “Accountability has been brought to bear with regard to four individuals, who are very senior.” Major news organizations reported that Eric Boswell, assistant secretary of state in charge of security, had resigned along with three others.

Less than a week later, the New York Post revealed that Boswell wasn’t actually leaving at all. He had resigned his post as assistant secretary, a spokesman explained, but would continue his other duties at state. As for the other three, they were found to have “performance inadequacies” but not “willful misconduct” and would therefore face no discipline.

So, one official changed desks, and the rest remained in place. That’s accountability Obama-style. The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and other major news outlets have not bothered to report this.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who on Oct. 15 made the utterly vaporous and content-free claim of “responsibility” for the Benghazi debacle (but chose not to speak for her department on Sept. 16 when the president needed someone to do the rounds of the Sunday talk shows), was at last scheduled to testify before Congress on Dec. 20. Her health problems have sidelined her for now. Whether she will testify in January remains an open question. Republican senators have vowed not to confirm John Kerry until she testifies. But if her health remains fragile, Republicans will be portrayed as brutal for insisting. Bedside testimony, anyone?

Meanwhile, President Obama’s great billowing smoke machine chugs on. Appearing on Meet the Press on Dec. 30, the president again expressed anger that questions had been asked of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice. Characterizing reasonable inquiries about the deaths of Americans as “politically motivated attacks,” the president insinuated a racial animus. “Why she was targeted individually for this kind of attack was puzzling to me.” She, of all members of his administration, he stressed “had the least to do with Benghazi.”

If that is so, why was she the designated spokesman for the administration? Isn’t it just possible that she became a lightning rod because the president made her one? If, as Henry Wotton put it, an ambassador is a man “who is sent abroad to lie for his country,” an Obama administration diplomat is a person who is sent to the Sunday shows to lie to his own country.

Nearly everything Ambassador Rice said during that Sunday farrago has been shown to be false. We know that there was no protest — and that the administration knew this, too. Rice has since admitted that she saw classified documents linking the attacks to al-Qaeda before doing the shows.

Secretary Clinton should be under a cloud for failing to prevent the deaths of these Americans and for misleading the nation afterwards. Instead, she is lofted skyward with talk of 2016. A just-released Senate report slams the State Department for ignoring “flashing red” reports of increasing al-Qaeda activity in that part of Libya. Oh, well. She failed at a key aspect of her job — nothing to see here.

The most opprobrium, though, belongs to the president. As the new Senate report makes absolutely clear, the White House knew within hours of the Benghazi attack that it was a terror attack and not a protest that became violent. “There was never any doubt among key officials ... that the attack in Benghazi was an act of terrorism. For example, two emails from the State Department Diplomatic Security Operations Center on the day of the attack, Sept. 11, and the day after, Sept. 12, 2012, characterized the attack as an initial terrorism incident and as a terrorist event.” Yet, when the president appeared on 60 Minutes, he said it was “too early” to know whether it was terror attack. On Sept. 18, he said “extremists and terrorists used this (the video) as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies, including the consulate in Libya.”

The president persisted in this lie personally and through his surrogates for weeks, even as the contrary evidence became a tsunami. The lies were Nixonian in audacity, Johnsonian in scope. The president is right about one thing: It isn’t Susan Rice who should take the fall.

Mona Charen of National Review magazine writes for Creators Syndicate. Click here for more information or to contact her. Follow Mona Charen on Twitter: @mcharen.

» on 01.01.13 @ 09:19 AM

Old news. Give it up.

» on 01.01.13 @ 10:37 AM

Talk about responsibility! Have you forgotten about the Iraq and Afghan wars? WMDs, Mushroom clouds, blaming Saddam for what Osama probably did? And that administration didn’t get Osama at Tora Bora with our “read license plate from space” technology. Had we caught Osama we could not have blamed Saddam and Iraq for 9-11. 

Mona, the usual method is to blame the previous administration. Clinton caused 9-11, our economy to tank, terrorism to flourish and American credibility to hit an all time low.

Look how well things are going on in the Middle East from the last oil men’s efforts. Cheney, Bush, Halliburton and “6 days- 6 weeks” Rumsfeld.

How come we don’t hear about those patriots lately?

How quickly we forget, selectively.

ron dexter

» on 01.01.13 @ 03:28 PM

Hey Mona, what about the Bush-Cheney administration’s blatant lies about the reasons to launch a multi-trillion dollar war against Iraq? Certainly far more Americans are dead from that “credibility gap”. Funny how little the Charens and Fox News water carriers for the Republican Party care about the biggest crimes against the nation but get their panties in a twist over the Obama administration’s “scandals” that have far less impact and merit. And just for the record, Fast and Furious was an AFT program started under the Bush White House years before Obama took office.

» on 01.03.13 @ 05:17 PM

Charen and her Party of NO! friends are right. The Libya thing was a botched mess, with four lives lost. That’s why people resigned or got fired right after the election.

She doesn’t mention the rumor that the Benghazi “mission” was a CIA base where Libyan fundamentalists were “rendered” to talk, which is why it was protected by former special forces contract mercenaries, rather than normal security forces.

But whatever the truth about this debacle, which cost our ambassador his life,
Charen long ago forfeited the right to whine or complain about such things.

You see, the biggest “credibility gap” since the Tonkin Gulf resolution plunged us
head-first into total war in Viet-Nam under LBJ isn’t Benghazi at all.

It was the fake “Weapons of Mass Destruction” fantasy by which the Kristol wing of the Party of NO! dragged America into total war in Iraq, even though WMDs
never existed, and Iraq was never involved in 9/11 in any way.

Former Bush puppeteers Cheney and Rumsfeld promised a “six months, and $60
billon, tops,” for America’s involvement in Iraq.

The actual involvement was ten years, and an estimated $1,350 BILLION, not to
mention the loss of thousands of American lives, and many scores of thousands
of Iraqi military and civilian casualties.

My recollection was that this was a military adventure Charen supported, with
almost no journalistic due diligence.

Therefore, whatever did, or didn’t, happen at Benghazi, it is not Charen’s place
to complain about it.

She and her political allies have the weight of so much American blood and
treasure on their hands that she should not point fingers at other failures, ever.

» on 01.03.13 @ 05:45 PM

What has happened to the supporters of Malkin, Mona and their ilk. Are they hiding under rocks? I used to get very negative replays to my diatribes.

Did losing the election have anything to do with it? Not that I am hoping for very big changes in our war policies, health care, Wall Street crimes, Citizens United and war profiteering.

ron dexter

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