Two and a half weeks ago I wrote a column for Fox News Opinion calling on Hillary Clinton to quit as Secretary of State. As more information comes out about what really led to ambassador Chris Stevens’s death on September 11, we’re hearing growing murmurs demanding the same thing. It’s not a full-throated chorus yet. But yesterday’s hearings in front of the House Government Oversight Committee are encouraging others to join in.
They certainly confirm three damning facts about our Secretary of State.
First, she and her Washington minions ignored repeated direct calls for help with security in Benghazi, including from the ambassador himself, and warnings about a possible attack on the anniversary of 9/11. According to the State Department’s security chief Andrew Wood, getting “security in Benghazi was a struggle” without end.
Twice the man in charge of security for our diplomats in Libya, Greg Nordstrom, begged the State Department for more security in Benghazi after no less than 48 security “incidents” there, including two bombings.
Washington, however, said no. Hillary Clinton wanted to preserve the illusion that all was fine in Libya, especially on the eve of the November election. She had her minion Charlene Lamb, deputy assistant secretary for international programs, tell Nordstrom that State wanted “to normalize operations” in Libya and to “reduce security resources.”
In the end Ambassador Stevens had to trust his life to hired local security–who, we now know, led the killers to Stevens’s hiding place where they could torture, and murder him.
Second, by blaming the Stevens murder on a video instead of Al Qaeda terrorists, she and the president deliberately deceived the American people and the world.
Hillary paraded this falsehood in two very public speeches on September 12th after the attack, and again on the 14th–even though the word was out within 24 hours that the killings in Libya were the result of a terrorist attack.
Her own State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research dubbed the murders acts of terror from the start, and never considered the online video a factor. “That was never our conclusion,” officials now say.
It was not until September 21st–more than a week after the truth was known–that Hillary abruptly changed her story to “what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack.” By then the video story was so transparently false that when she trotted it out one last time at a Congressional briefing on September 20, the reaction was one of disbelief and disgust. “They’re trying to cover their behinds,” Congressman Ted Flores of Texas seethed, and he was right.
Third and finally–and most tellingly--the professionals at State are starting to abandon the Hillary ship. Wood and Nordstrom have provided a version of events that explicitly contradicts the Hillary version of what happened. That wouldn’t happen unless they and others weren’t fed up with taking the fall for their boss, and being associated with a dangerous and epic lie.
So don’t expect the administration’s latest story that the video story was the result of an “intelligence failure,” to help save Hillary. That’ll only arouse more ire inside the CIA and other intelligence agencies, along with State.
The only possible conclusion is that, in order to preserve the fiction that the Obama policy in Libya was working, Hillary Clinton was willing to put the life of our ambassador at mortal risk, and afterwards deliberately misdirected our attention away from a genuine lethal threat to our security, Al Qaeda, toward a fake one, an online video.
After this sustained deception no other Secretary of State in our history could keep his or her job.
This one shouldn’t, either.
Historian Arthur Herman is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institutein Washington, D.C. He is author of seven books, including New York Times bestseller "How the Scots Invented the Modern World" (2001); the Pulitzer Prize Finalist "Gandhi and Churchill"(2008); "To Rule the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World" (nominated for the UK's Mountbatten Prize); and the highly acclaimed "Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II," which The Economist magazine picked as one of the Best Books of 2012. His most recent work is "The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle, and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization" (Random House 2013). Follow him on Twitter@ArthurLHerman.