Everyone’s attention is rightly focused on what was said at the Benghazi hearings on Wednesday. But what was not said, or much discussed, is at least as illuminating — and alarming. My New York Post column today takes a look at two non-barking hounds:
The political ramifications of Wednesday’s hearing on the Benghazi fiasco are actually secondary to two far more serious issues: the continuing politicization of the Intelligence Community and the shocking state of our military.
First, the IC — especially the CIA and its nominal overlord, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
Clapper, you’ll recall, popped up back in November to take the fall for having edited all references to al Qaeda and terrorism out of the unclassified talking points on the Benghazi attack. But we now know that the blame falls on the State Department, whose demands the White House ordered the CIA to meet. . . .
So why did Clapper lie so publicly and so blatantly about the decision to read al Qaeda out of the official record? Why cover for the White House and Foggy Bottom? Politics is the only possible answer.
The IC certainly has not covered itself in glory during this wretched episode, at least in the heroic Battle of the Beltway Desk Jockeys. In the field, of course, it’s a different story; the things I’m hearing about the firefight at the consulate and the CIA annex are stunning. We couldn’t ask for braver men standing watch on that wall, and for this administration to besmirch their memory — as Hillary Clinton did by continuing to stick to the ludicrous video meme even after the bodies were brought home — is the very pinnacle of moral disgrace.
In that context, it’s worth revisiting what the late William Safire wrote about the former first lady, former distinguished senator from the great state of New York and former secretary of state back in 1996, when most of her public life still lay before her:
Americans of all political persuasions are coming to the sad realization that our First Lady — a woman of undoubted talents who was a role model for many in her generation — is a congenital liar.
Drip by drip, like Whitewater torture, the case is being made that she is compelled to mislead, and to ensnare her subordinates and friends in a web of deceit. . . .
Therefore, ask not “Why didn’t she just come clean at the beginning?” She had good reasons to lie; she is in the longtime habit of lying; and she has never been called to account for lying herself or in suborning lying in her aides and friends.
At least that record’s still intact.
The other toothless non-woofer is the Pentagon, which was either unwilling or unable to muster a single manned aircraft in defense of our diplomats directly across the Med from Italy and Greece. Heck, Scipio Africanus could have had boots on the ground there faster than the DOD:
Assume that the administration is telling the truth when it says there were no US assets in the region that could be mobilized in time to make a difference in the ferocious Libyan firefight — in which a handful of Americans held off dozens or even hundreds of jihadis for 10 hours. What does that tell us?
Once, the Sixth Fleet made the Mediterranean an American lake — and yet it was unable to scramble a single fighter jet to at least buzz the compounds in the North African coastal city of Benghazi. Force reductions throughout the Navy have left the service with a mere 288 ships to patrol the seas, about half what it had under President Ronald Reagan.
And that’s why Benghazi matters. In the scheme of things, it was a small engagement on the fringes of the civilized world. But that’s how civilizations fall — when they’re too weak or enervated to defend themselves and the principles for which their emissaries stand. Just ask ancient Rome.
Whoops, my bad — Rome fell in 410 when it was sacked by barbarians.