Behnghazi and the House Select Committee
According to a timeline complied by CBS News: at 3:40 p.m. (Washington, D.C. time), September 11, 2012, the American mission in Benghazi, Libya, came under machine gun and mortar attack. By 4:05 p.m., America’s vaunted Communications, Command, Control, and Intelligence System (C3I) alerted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the White House, and dozens of operations centers operated by the U.S. Military, the State Department, the CIA, and the FBI that the American mission in Benghazi was under armed assault.
At 5:00 p.m., President Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Joint Chiefs Chairman, General Martin Dempsey, and National Security Advisor, Tom Donilon, met in the White House to decide what to do. Or, not do. As they were meeting, an unarmed drone arrived over Benghazi, adding real-time video to their understanding of the firefights and fires raging in Benghazi.
We also know the Americans on the ground asked repeatedly for help. We know "someone" issued an order than any rescue forces on their way to Benghazi must "stand down." It is from this point on that the story of Benghazi gets very, very murky.
So murky that the Standing Committees of Reference in the U.S. House of Representatives have not been able to clear away the murk and it has become necessary to appoint a House Select Committee on Benghazi with the same far-ranging powers as possessed by the Democrat-controlled Senate Committee on Watergate and the Democrat-controlled Congressional Committee Investigating Iran-Contra.
The main reason why the regular Standing Committees of the Republican-controlled House never got to the bottom of Benghazi is because someone at or after that 5:00 p.m. White House meeting issued an edict that anyone with first-hand knowledge or witnessed the battle via the C3I system must be sworn-to-secrecy, the violation of which would be grounds for military court-martial or trial in civilian courts. Moreover, the people under the secrecy ban have been subjected to frequent polygraph examinations to detect if they have broken the secrecy ban in any way.
But what "truth" can be so horrible that it warrants such draconian threats to those who watched Benghazi unfold? Why can’t the Obama White House just say: "Okay, we knew from the get-go Benghazi wasn’t caused by some home-made video. Election’s over. Move on." Admittedly, that is presidential politics. But what about the 34 Americans left on the field of battle without rescue, resulting in the death of four of them? That is something many Americans and, especially, our military, are not likely to forgive.
What if the Select Committee discovers that the CIA, Secretary Clinton, and the slain Ambassador Chris Stevens were doing an illegal Iran-Contra-type operation running guns from Libya via Turkey to the rebels in Syria? Impeachable? Could be. But Iran-Contra didn’t doom President Reagan.
But what if the Select Committee discovers the Obama White House knew from the get-go that Vladimir Putin organized the Benghazi attacks to put a stop to the U.S. gun-running from Libya via Turkey to the Syrian rebels? Would that be an Act of War from which the Commander-in-Chief or someone acting in his stead fled the field of battle, leaving our troops to fend for themselves? Could be. Pray that wasn’t what happened.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame. He was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.
©2014. William Hamilton.
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