The most hostile moment of this morning’s hearing on Benghazi came when Senator Ron Johnson pressed Secretary Clinton on the Obama administration’s ever-changing narrative about what caused the attack on our consulate.
“Do you disagree with me that a simple phone call to those evacuees [from the consulate] to determine what happened wouldn’t have ascertained immediately that there was no protest?” Johnson asked. “That was a piece of information that could have been easily, easily obtained within hours, if not days.” Clinton replied that the “last thing” she wanted to do was to “interfere with any other process that was already going on.” Right, that sounds like an awful thing to do.
Her patience exhausted, or so it seemed, Clinton said at last that whether we have “four dead Americans” as a result of “a protest” or “guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans” doesn’t matter, and that it’s less important today why the attack was perpetrated than to bring the perpetrators “to justice.”
Setting aside Clinton’s bizarre decision to assign varying weights to these matters, her response is uncharacteristically flippant for someone of her stature. Isn’t it essential why four Americans were murdered, and why this information wasn’t promptly or accurately conveyed to the American people? Wasn’t answering that question one of the central purposes of today’s hearing?
Clinton’s dismissal of the impetus behind the attack also stands in stark contrast to nearly everything senior officials of the Obama administration said publicly about it in the days that followed, including both the president and Clinton herself — that is, when the administration was blaming the attack on a YouTube video. In opening remarks for a strategic dialogue with Morocco — video below — which occurred four days after the Benghazi attack, Clinton said, “There is no justification, none at all, for responding to this video with violence. We condemn the violence that has resulted in the strongest terms.”
The idea that the cause of the attack should now take a backseat to other concerns seems all too convenient.