Friday, October 23, 2015

POLITICS - Benghazi Saga

(aka "Republican 3 Year Attack Syndrome")

"Here’s what you should know about the deadly attack in Benghazi" PBS NewsHour 10/21/2015


SUMMARY:  Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton goes before a congressional committee Thursday to offer testimony on the attacks that killed four people at the U.S. consulate and CIA compound in Benghazi, Libya.  Chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner reviews the details of the attack and the subsequent investigations.

GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  The 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate and CIA compound in Benghazi, Libya, has sparked a firestorm of recrimination and accusation, touching on policy and politics.

As former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prepares to testify before a congressional committee about the attacks tomorrow, chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner catches us up on the facts of the case.

MARGARET WARNER (NewsHour):  This fiery scene at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, took place three years ago, but it sparked a political war of words that’s still being fought.

Thirteen months after the fall of dictator Moammar Gadhafi, Benghazi was lawless and awash with guns.  The U.S. mission was protected by one local militia and unarmed contractor guards.  On the anniversary of 9/11, around 9:40 p.m., heavily armed men stormed the compound, opening fire and torching some of its buildings.

Hours later, a CIA annex less than a mile away came under mortar attack. U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens died in the main compound, along with Foreign Service officer Sean Smith, apparently of smoke inhalation.  Two contractors, ex-Navy SEALS Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, died at the annex.

Then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said U.S. commanders had no intelligence that an attack was coming on the Benghazi mission, and U.S. forces were too far away to help when it did.

LEON PANETTA, Former Secretary of Defense:  Frankly, without an adequate warning, there wasn’t enough time, given the speed of the attack, for armed military assets to respond.

MARGARET WARNER:  In the aftermath, the military did deploy elite teams of U.S. Marines from Rota, Spain, one to Benghazi to evacuate personnel, the other to fortify the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli.

The Benghazi assault followed anti-U.S. protests that day in a half-dozen Islamic countries.  In Cairo, a mob breached the walls of the heavily-fortified U.S. Embassy, tearing down the U.S. flag.  No Americans were harmed.

All those protests were against an American citizen’s online movie mocking the Prophet Mohammed.  Five days later, on the Sunday talk shows, then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice pointed to a linkage.

SUSAN RICE, National Security Adviser:  What this began as was a spontaneous, not a premeditated, response to what had transpired in Cairo.

MARGARET WARNER:  But Republicans charged the White House knew almost immediately Benghazi was a terror attack, and concealed it to protect President Obama’s reelection campaign.

The administration insisted Ambassador Rice was speaking from the best information available at the time.  Four months later, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took on Senate Republicans at a hearing.

"Did we learn anything new from Clinton’s Benghazi testimony?" PBS NewsHour 10/22/2015


SUMMARY:  House Republicans grilled former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the U.S. embassy attack in Benghazi, Libya.  Political director Lisa Desjardins recaps the sometimes tense and emotional hearing.  Judy Woodruff gets reaction from Yochi Dreazen of Foreign Policy Magazine and Anne Gearan of The Washington Post.

YOCHI DREAZEN, Foreign Policy:  So, some of the numbers just on the hearings, it’s astounding.  This is the 21st hearing on Benghazi.  By comparison, there were 22 public hearings on 9/11.

So, just to compare the two, 22 on 9/11, 21 on Benghazi.  The investigations are thought to have cost about $5 million.  This has been going on now 17 months.  It’s not clear to me or I think to really any observer what is new that could still be found.

They have already pulled out that there are things said publicly different from what were said privately, that there were security failures.  That has all been out for quite some time.  But there was one moment that I thought was very interesting.  She said back at one point to them that the response to this shouldn’t be that Washington decides, Democrat or Republican, that diplomacy is too dangerous, that it shouldn’t be something where America pulls out of dangerous places because of attacks like this.


"Fact checking Clinton and critics on Benghazi, emails" by Connie Cass and Calvin Woodward, Associated Press 10/22/2015

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