The Democrats have been successful in obscuring the facts surrounding Benghazi. The Republicans have been unable to effectively explain to the public why Benghazi does matter and should be a difference maker in the 2016 election. In the text that follows I succeed where the G.O.P. has failed.
Private Security Contractors
While George W. Bush was president, the Democrat party created the Boogiemen of “private security contractors” working in the Middle East. Firms like Blackwater were unfairly painted as out of control mercenaries committing violent acts and making large profits while doing so. The image appealed to the party’s left wing base. Those who wet themselves at the mere thought of a firearm took pleasure out of believing that there were too many Americans running around with guns in Iraq and Afghanistan. When deadly encounters between the contractors and others did take place it was seen as another reason to hate Bush. It also fit nicely into the narrative of the Left which argues that it is the actions of the U.S. that are at fault for Islamic terrorism.
When the Barack Obama administration came to power it was faced with the same set of facts that led the Bush administration to rely on private security contractors on a widespread basis. Using them freed up soldiers for combat and they were much cheaper to utilize than similarly trained and capable U.S. military personnel. As former military, intelligence and law enforcement officers, they were typically experienced, more mature than the typical enlisted man and very good at their jobs.
The White House could not have failed to realize that the wise policy decision would be to continue Bush’s widespread reliance on private security contractors in the Middle East. Yet what also could not have been lost on the Obama administration was that if they did so, the Democrats would have shown themselves to be hypocrites for demonizing Bush for the same course of action. Judged from the cynical perspective of what might cost votes, the best political move was to only hire private security firms for the most low-profile and limited assignments. Only small detachments could be utilized.
The desire to avoid hurting their party in future elections is the only conceivable reason President Barack Obama’s White House and Hillary Clinton’s State Department decided to trust the security of the two men who would ultimately be killed at the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi to a local Libya militia which had little loyalty to those whose lives they were entrusted to protect and even less training. The same reasoning undoubtedly explains the fact that only a handful of private security contractors protected the nearby C.I.A. Annex. It was attacked the same night as the compound. Here two more Americans lost their lives.
It was obvious to those who worked at the compound that the decision to rely on the militia for security put them in danger. Numerous requests were made by them to the State Department for better security. All were denied.
First the local militiamen allowed terrorists to conduct a photographic reconnaissance of the compound. On the night of the attack the militia just walked away without putting up any resistance. The Americans were left to their fate.
Response of Obama and Clinton
Once it became clear just what had happened in Benghazi, the honorable thing for the White House and Clinton to have done would have been to acknowledge that hiring a local militia rather than a private security contractor to protect the compound and not hiring enough contractors to ensure the safety of annex staff were mistakes that resulted in the death of four U.S. citizens at the hands of terrorists.
Since such an admission would have come on the eve of a presidential election this was politically problematic. Obama had campaigned on the notion that he had defeated terrorism and made Americans safe. To admit terrorists had been able to kill four U.S. citizens because proper precautions had not been taken for their safety simply would not do with an election just around the corner. Obama would have a better chance of victory in 2004 if the administration instead claimed that a spontaneous demonstration over a video caused the four deaths on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11.
Hillary Clinton played her part well. She would repeat the lie about the video several times despite the fact that within twenty four hours of the start of the attack she emailed her daughter, the Egyptian prime minister and the Libyan president and described what had happen in Benghazi as a terrorist attack.
As Secretary of State Clinton shared the responsibility for the lives of the four who died in Benghazi in the service of their country with Obama. Clinton also shares a part of the blame for the costly bad judgment shown in allowing a local militia to provide security for the compound. Clinton’s going along with the deception concerning why they died showed her to not just be dishonest but to lack character. Eight years of bad judgment and a lack of character will have been more than enough. We do not need four more. We do not need a President Hillary Clinton.
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