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Benghazi, the “difference” that it makes

Hillary Clinton on the Hill
Hillary Clinton on the Hill
In just the past few days two  important new “smoking gun” emails have come to the public’s attention about the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack on our Benghazi consulate which killed four American’s including the United State’s Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. One of the emails was released only after the “most transparent administration in history” was ordered to do so by a federal court as the result of a Freedom of Information request by the watchdog organization Judicial Watch.
The fact that it took a “watchdog” organization to unearth an email which appears to directly tie the White House to the infamous talking points of former UN Ambassador Susan Rice is in itself disturbing.  It clearly demonstrates that the institution, meaning a “free” press, which the framers of our constitution intended to be a watchdog of government’s inevitable abuse of power failed at that task.
It is particularly telling in this case since the email itself is no more than “how to” guide on  “spinning” the narrative of the events surrounding the attacks to that very same media, a task which was evidently successful. The media could not even be bothered to “dig” into the events enough to find the memo which explained how they, the media,  could be spun. It is not as if such tactics are not standard fare of any administration, all administrations attempt to shine the best light on themselves and everybody knows it. The problem is when the media as an institution willingly even  actively joins an administration in this political game.
The fact that this particular email came from Ben Rhodes is even more disturbing since Ben Rhodes is the brother of  David Rhodes who is the President of CBS News the same CBS News which was once instrumental in uncovering the Watergate, Iran-contra  and other Washington political scandals but seems to be less than enthused in perusing this particular “cover-up.” Recently CBS’s best investigative journalist Sharyl Atkisson resigned  and revealed that CBS made no FOIA requests to obtain emails such as the one the network’s president’s brother sent out to “spin” CBS and other news organizations.
Which brings us to the exposure of the most recent “smoking gun” email. On her website, Atkisson informs us of another email which until recently has been not made public at the State Department’s request. The email  from Assistant Secretary of State Beth Jones sent on September 12, 2012  to multiple high ranking State Department officials and as Atkisson points out totally contradicts nearly everything the administration was saying about the video being the cause of the attacks.
The private, internal communication directly contradicts the message that President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice and White House press secretary Jay Carney repeated publicly over the course of the next several weeks.They often maintained that an anti-Islamic YouTube video inspired a spontaneous demonstration that escalated into violence.
The email is entitled “Libya update from Beth Jones. ” Jones was then-Assistant Secretary of State to Hillary Clinton. According to the email, Jones spoke to Libya’s Ambassador at 9:45am on Sept. 12, 2012 following the attacks.
“When [the Libyan Ambassador] said his government suspected that former Qaddafi regime elements carried out the attacks, I told him the group that conducted the attacks—Ansar Al Sharia—is affiliated with Islamic extremists,” Jones reports in the email.
There is no uncertainty assigned to the assessment, which does not mention a video or a protest. The State Department provided the email to Congress in Aug. of 2013 under special conditions that it not be publicly released at that time. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) sought and received permission to release it Thursday.
With the publication of these two emails we now have documentation that:
  • On September 14, 2012 The White House attempted to deflect blame away from their policies and to the You Tube video as the Ben Rhodes email makes clear when he writes under “goals” for Susan Rice’s appearances
“To underscore that these protests are rooted in an internet video, and not a broader failure of policy;”
  • On September 12, 2012 The State Department knew that the attacks in Benghazi were from a known terrorist organization and not the result of the “internet video.”
“I told him the group that conducted the attacks—Ansar Al Sharia—is affiliated with Islamic extremists,”
All of these high-ranking administration officials were “in the loop” on how the Obama Administration was going to respond to the events of September 11, 2012, yet they continued for weeks afterwards to portray the events in Benghazi as being the result of the video.
Which brings us to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s famous response to Senator Ron Johnson’s (R-WI) question on why the American public was not informed that this was a terrorist attack and not a demonstration “gone awry.”
 Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?
The difference that it makes is huge and it is very simply this.  A fundamental bedrock of American democracy is that the powers of government should not be used as a means to attain or retain power. As naïve as this may sound knowing that all administration do use the power of government for this purpose, our very existence as a free nation depends on the concept that it is not acceptable for politicians to abuse the levers of government in order to retain their positions.  As fundamental as this concept is, the nation has grown cynical and ignores its importance at its peril.
In the same way that homicides occur multiple times a day in our nation there occurrences does not make the act acceptable.  Using the same institutions of government that are in place to protect and serve the American people in order to mislead them is murder of the public’s trust. One of our foundation beliefs as a nation is that government’s very existence is by “the consent of the governed” and if that consent is bought through the  deceptive use of our public servants of our government institutions then there is no real consent at all, there is only tyranny.  It is not necessary, at least initially, for despotic governments to rule by force if they can rule through deception.
This administration’s first big failure in the Benghazi scandal was that they did not attempt to rescue our fellow citizens.  An attempt which if unsuccessful or even futile still defines who we are as a nation.  As General Lovell testified “the point is we should have tried.”  How can the world look at us as anything other than weak when with the most powerful military force in the history of humanity we sit by and watch our diplomats slaughtered without an effort at rescue and thus far any retribution.
From a domestic political point of view it is even worse. The institutions which have been established to protect and serve us are now being used to deceive and manipulate us with no oversight from the media and in some cases with active support from that media.  At this point in our history, this makes a very big difference Madam Secretary, a very big difference indeed.

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