Hillary Clinton said last week that she was ready to move on from the Benghazi incident of 2012, which happened during her watch as secretary of state.
An understandable desire by the presumptive Democratic nominee since that deadly night of terror, the lack of preparations that invited it, the absence of any backup for Americans under attack and the Obama administration’s clumsy attempted cover-up. All of that speaks directly to her incompetence to become commander in chief.
Now we have the official 800-page report of the House Select Committee on Benghazi with fresh documentation of the awful incident that cost four American lives, including the ambassador Clinton claimed as a friend. Working for the Clintons seems to be a dangerous and costly proposition for many over the years.
In the 2008 campaign, Clinton suggested that her life as first lady and senator had prepared her for the ominous 3 a.m. crisis calls that presidents get and that part-term Sen. Barack Obama wasn’t.
The Benghazi call came in the late afternoon Washington time. She still wasn’t prepared. Apparently, among the insufficient danger signs were deteriorating security in Libya after she and Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama ousted Moammar Gadhafi and then months of consulate pleas for additional security. Benghazi consulate security had been reduced the previous month.
Potential rescue forces in Europe were alerted but spent the night instead changing uniforms four times, so great was the White House concern over the appearance of U.S. forces in Libya.
But so great was the absence of concern for embattled Americans that not one single U.S. military asset moved an inch to rescue countrymen — despite an all-night battle and real-time drone observations.
However, by 10 that night Clinton had concocted a cover story blaming the violence on spontaneous outrage over an obscure anti-Muslim video erupting among protesters, who just happened to assemble with machine guns and mortars.
Recall, this was as Obama reassured 2012 voters that al Qaida was on the run.
Days later U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice shared the video fable on five Sunday shows, even as intelligence experts questioned that cockamamie story. Obama peddled the video yarn two weeks later at the U.N., 10 days after Clinton emailed her daughter that Benghazi was terrorism.
A standard Clinton defense is that Benghazi was reviewed by an independent Administrative Review Board that found only system failures. Thanks to the House report, however, we now know Clinton aides handpicked board members, steered them only to desired interviews and sifted documents they saw.
Oh, and the board never talked to the woman in charge that night. Other than that, it was a thorough review.
The next day with Clinton in the Rose Garden, Obama denounced the consulate attack. No questions allowed. He skipped his daily intelligence briefing for a Las Vegas junket because, fundraisers.
The Obama-Clinton media strategy shows the effectiveness of stonewalling. The strategic communications goal is to starve reporters for new information that would fuel a new news cycle, just as they have done with the Clinton email scandals.
Stall and deflect. It took months and a federal judge, for instance, just to pry some Clinton emails from the State Department. As our colleague Anita Kumar points out, that’s going to cost the candidate either way, though the FBI director recommended Tuesday that Clinton not be charged.
Over time, fresh news stories erupt. Officials claim Benghazi or whatever has become old news, though not to the families of the abandoned.
Due to White House refusals, we still do not know where the commander in chief was and what he was doing throughout that entire night of overseas terror. Quite a contrast to instant photo coverage of Obama and team watching Osama bin Laden’s assassination.
That’s how Washington tidies and stores a scandal, even one with bodies.
So far, it’s worth noting, not one person has been held accountable for the lack of preparedness in Benghazi, the lack of rescue readiness on a 9/11 anniversary, the absence of any response, the video fiction, the phony arrest of the video-maker and, not least, the deaths. Two State bureaucrats were, however, disciplined for cooperating with congressional investigators.
The next opportunity to place Benghazi blame comes on Nov. 8, when the woman who should be held responsible for that massacre seeks the votes to make her your president — answering those 3 a.m. crisis calls.
Malcolm is an author and veteran national and foreign correspondent covering politics since the 1960s. Follow him @AHMalcolm.