The 800-plus-page report of the House Select Committee on Benghazi was released earlier this week. It slams former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her willful indifference to her obligation to repel military-style attacks on American interests and personnel at the U.S. Consulate and a nearby CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya. She particularly failed to save the lives of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three of his colleagues, all under her care and control while she was secretary of state.
The report also slams Clinton for her repeated lies about the cause of the attacks. After she told her daughter in an email that the Benghazi consulate had been attacked by an organized terrorist group using heavy military hardware, she told her colleagues at the State Department that the attacks were a spontaneous overreaction by locals to an American-made internet video about the Prophet Muhammad.
After telling that lie, she sent another email, this one to the Egyptian foreign minister, repeating what she had truthfully told her daughter.
The Obama administration then spread the “internet video-inspired” myth by dispatching Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., to repeat it to five Sunday morning American television talk shows. This was met with profound disbelief in the diplomatic and intelligence communities. Yet, still unwilling to acknowledge the truth publicly, Clinton then retold the myth to the families of the four dead Americans in the presence of their loved ones’ bodies as the bodies were being reverently removed from a U.S. transfer plane at Joint Base Andrews.
What does all this say of the character of Clinton? How cold and heartless is she? How can she expect voters to reward her with the presidency when she failed to lift a finger to save Americans and then she repeatedly lied in public about her failures — while being truthful about them in private?
Yet the committee’s report is incomplete and has aroused dissent from some Republican members of the committee. The essence of their dissent is that the unstated and unacknowledged but true mission of the committee was not to reveal facts but to conceal them. There is ample evidence to support their argument that Benghazi was the unintended consequence of Clinton’s private war against Libyan strongman Col. Moammar Gadhafi.
Yet the report does not delve into that.
The war against Gadhafi was, of course, never declared by Congress. It was conceived by Clinton, approved by President Barack Obama and agreed to by leadership in both houses of Congress and from both major political parties. It was supposed to be the crown jewel of Clinton’s foreign policy stewardship — ousting the dictator, replacing him with a democracy, putting no American boots on the ground and avoiding American bloodshed.
As is often the case in war, particularly illegal ones and especially secret ones, there were unintended consequences. Here the consequences have been the destruction of the government of an American ally, the imposition of mob-ruled chaos in Libya, the empowerment of terror groups in the Middle East, the deaths of innocent American civilians, the rejection of the rule of law and the obfuscation of the truth.
One of those who signed off on this secret war was the person who appointed the committee and its senior staff with personal loyalists — former House Speaker John Boehner. Another is a former congressman whose wife personally prospered from all this by serving as the go-between in the delivery of military hardware from Western sources to terror groups on the ground.
The method of those who authorized the secret war was for Clinton to issue waivers — as the secretary of state may do — to the U.S., NATO and U.N. embargo of arms sales to Libya. What did this do? Instead of issuing waivers so as to permit arms to be sold to a friendly government, Clinton and her colleagues conspired to get arms into the hands of terrorist organizations masquerading as local militias. The CIA warned her about this, but she was indifferent to the warnings.
Those who signed off on this war and its methodology were arguably conspirators in an effort to provide material support to terrorist organizations by supplying them with military equipment, allegedly to be used to topple the Gadhafi government. That is a felony — and the beneficial or strategic use of the weapons is not a defense to the charge of providing them to terror groups.
How dangerous and reckless was Clinton? She ignored the CIA’s advice and let the weapons spread among deranged madmen and committed killers. Who in the intelligence community would work for her in light of this behavior? Ambassador Stevens and the others were killed by heavy military hardware that Clinton and her colleagues permitted to make its way into the hands of terror groups.
Though Clinton was the creator of the conspiracy and remained at its heart and hoped to ride it triumphantly into the White House — and though she bears more blame than any other conspirator — the committee’s work fails as a seeker of the whole truth.
The truth is that some of the committee’s congressional allies set in motion the awful events that led to the tragedy in Benghazi. The truth is that these people will probably escape accountability for their lawless behavior. The truth is that Congress knows that the president wages secret wars and it does nothing to stop them. The truth is that Hillary Clinton put her own political ambitions above fidelity to the rule of law and properly doing her job.
The truth is that the House Select Committee on Benghazi concealed more truth than it revealed. Yet the government is supposed to work for us. Aren’t we entitled to know what the government has done in our names?
Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel.