Rounding out Hillary-week at this blog, this week's syndicated column:
One day, I hope, Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi hearings will stand as testament to the smoke-and-mirrors dangerousness of U.S. foreign policy, circa 2013 – both as executed by the executive branch of government and as weakly grasped by the legislative branch.
Did we learn who in the Obama administration concocted and/or coordinated the story about a totally imaginary video protest that was supposed to have led to the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, on 9/11/12? No.
Did we learn why the maker of the so-called anti-Islamic YouTube video clip is the only person in the world in jail for the attacks (for “parole violations”)? No.
Did we learn whether it was coincidental that the video-protest lie ended after President Obama blamed the video (six times) in a Sept. 25 address before the United Nations in which he declared, “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam”? No.
Did we learn anything about the decision-making process that prevented U.S. military relief from being ordered to Benghazi during the seven-hour attack? No.
Did we even learn about the official madness that permitted the U.S. government to hire jihadist militias – the February 17 Martyrs Brigade and Libya Shield – to secure U.S. lives and interests in the first place?
No, but we did learn that Secretary of State Clinton is now concerned about the “spreading jihadist threat.” This was unexpected news – not the existence of the threat, or the fact it’s spreading, but rather that Mrs. Clinton was using the word “jihadist.” What was that about?
The Obama administration has worked relentlessly to eradicate “jihad” – the word, anyway – by replacing it with the content-free and thus blinding term “violent extremism.” Besides, al-Qaida is dead along with Osama bin Laden, or so the Obama campaign has always told us (hence, one motive for White House lies to the American people that a video – free speech – caused the attacks in Benghazi, not terrorists). Did this lurch in lingo indicate a lurch in policy?
No question on that from the good people of Congress.
And why was Mrs. Clinton warning against allowing Mali, hot spot du jour, to become safe haven for AQIM (al-Qaida in the Maghreb)? It has become such a haven mainly due to Obama-Clinton policies that toppled “war on terror” ally Moammar Gadhafi in Libya. (“We came, we saw, he died,” as Clinton unforgettably gloated.) Clinton may be talking up “global jihad” this week, but it’s worth remembering that Gadhafi already was its opponent on the northern African front – at least until he was killed by U.S.-backed, al Qaida-linked Libyan “rebels.”
How does she square all of that? No questions. Such curiosity, a call for accountability, might expose the Arab Spring, which all too many Democrats and Republicans supported, thus enabling regimes or democracies guided by Islamic law to take power across the Middle East. As far as American liberty goes, what’s the difference between governments guided by Islamic law and global jihadists guided by the same Islamic law? Answer: not much. If Congress were to consider such a concept – that Islamic law is dangerous, whether advanced by terrorists or governments – the potential for clarity and creation of a policy in the American interest would become simply too dangerous to contemplate. Dangerous, that is, for the status quo. Maybe that’s why lawmakers, with rare but welcome exceptions, stuck to the unrevealing nuts and bolts of “security.”
Still, if they were so worried about security at the Benghazi compound, couldn’t someone have asked Clinton why the suspected head of al-Qaida in Libya, Wissam bin Hamid, leader of Libya Shield, a militia that fought Gadhafi under al-Qaida’s black flag, was one of the U.S. compound’s security providers?
At least one congressman, Republican Rep. Tom Marino of Pennsylvania, did go to the trouble of displaying pictures of black al-Qaida flags recently waving over Libya and the wider Islamic world. He also asked Clinton whether she was aware of the Library of Congress report “Al-Qaida in Libya” (which happens to include the dossier on Wissam bin Hamid and a reported tie to AQIM).
Clinton’s response was to note the many reports out there – also the many flags. “The United States has to be as effective in partnering with the non-jihadists, whether they fly a black flag or any other color flag, to be successful.”
Madame Secretary, what “non-jihadists” would ever fly the black al-Qaida flag?
We’ll never know her answer. Of course, Clinton might well have replied – as she did when Republican Sen. Ron Johnson asked why the administration said a video-driven protest, not terrorism, caused the Benghazi attacks – “What difference, at this point, does it make?” It was pure Clinton, Hill or Bill. The ends always justify the means.
We still don’t even know why the late Ambassador Chris Stevens had to be in the lightly protected compound in Benghazi on the Sept. 11 anniversary.
Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, however, did open an important, possibly related line of questioning. He asked: “Is the U.S. involved with any procuring of weapons, transfer of weapons, buying, selling, anyhow transferring weapons to Turkey out of Libya?”
“To Turkey?” Clinton said, after a pause. “I will have to take that question for the record. Nobody has ever raised that with me.” Paul continued, noting news reports regarding ships leaving Libya with arms bound for Turkey and eventually the “rebels” in Syria. If this is true, we’re looking at the “gun-walking” scandal known as Fast and Furious on an exponential scale.
Paul then asked whether the CIA annex in Benghazi was “involved with procuring, buying, selling, obtaining weapons, and were any of these weapons being transferred to other countries, any countries, Turkey included?”
“Well, senator, you’ll have to direct that question to the agency that ran the annex,” Clinton said. “I will see what information is available.”
“You’re saying you don’t know?” asked Paul.
“I do not know,” Clinton said. “I don’t have any information on that.”
That’s funny. House Speaker John Boehner does. Following Clinton’s testimony, Boehner told radio host Laura Ingraham that he was familiar with “the chatter about this (arms story) and the fact that these arms were moving toward Turkey.” He continued: “But most of what I know about this came from a classified source and I really can’t elaborate on it.”
Is it possible that Speaker Boehner received a classified briefing the secretary of state did not? Or did Clinton just tell a lie?
The Senate should invite her back and find out.