Tuesday, October 16, 2012

When the buck doesn't stop in the Oval Office

While visiting Peru, Hillary Clinton has said that she takes responsibility for the failure to protect our diplomats in Benghazi. I guess this is to provide political cover to Barack Obama. It's certainly a long way away from Harry Truman's desk marker announcing that the "Buck stops here."
"I take responsibility," Clinton said during a visit to Peru. "I'm in charge of the State Department's 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts. The president and the vice president wouldn't be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals. They're the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs and make a considered decision."
Notice how she slides immediately to cast blame on "specific decisions that are made by security professionals."

She is also being less than clear about why no protection was added to our folks in Libya after the attack on the consulate in Benghazi in June.
"I can't speak to who knew what," she said. "We knew there were security breaches and problems throughout Libya. That's something that came about as the aftermath of the revolution to topple Qaddafi, with so many militias formed, so many weapons loose. ... It was taken into account by security professionals as they made their assessments."
Ah, those "security professionals" who made the real decisions that she is now saying she takes responsibility for. Well, if she can take responsibility for decisions that she is implying she didn't make, shouldn't the President also be responsible?

And her blanket adopting the mantle of responsibility doesn't explain why the administration spent so long pushing the blame onto the video. As Paul Mirengoff writes,
Does this take President Obama off the hook? No. First, he appointed Clinton as his Secretary of State, in what was probably his most important personnel decision as president.

Second, Clinton did not, and cannot, take the fall for the false statements by the Obama administration about what happened in Benghazi. The State Department, which was following events there in real time, knew that this was a terrorist attack, not a protest. Yet, days after the attack, the administration mischaracterized it as a protest that spun out of control against a movie. That’s on Obama, not Clinton.
We still don't know who told Susan Rice to go on all the Sunday shows and lie about it not being a preplanned attack and being the result of anger over the video. President Obama was blaming the video despite the claim that the State Department and intelligence people knew within 24 hours that it was a terrorist attack. Jed Babbin reminds us by using the helpful Fox News timeline of who said what when how the White House had been trying to deceive the American people. A week after the attack Obama was blaming the video on the Letterman show and then 13 days after the attack he again blamed the video on The View. However, we learned that the State Department official responsible for security in Benghazi, Charlene Lamb, "was in real-time communication with the consulate during the attack."
There's more. In the 11 October vice-presidential debate, Joe Biden blamed the intelligence community for Obama's denials that it was a terrorist attack. Did the intel people know less than Charlene Lamb? That's what you have to believe in order to believe Biden.

And the timeline goes on, showing how through spin and denials the Obama team tried to cover up the facts of the attack. If Charlene Lamb knew it was a terrorist attack in real time, Hillary Clinton knew. And so did Obama. Yet Obama, Clinton and Susan Rice told us for weeks afterward that it wasn't.
The Obama team's attempts to cover up the attack having failed, they still haven't given up on spinning the facts. On Sunday, David Axelrod told Fox News Sunday that the president had labeled it a terrorist attack the day after it happened. But as the documentation of the timeline proves, he called it a "terrible act," not a terrorist attack.
The difference is important. Obama and his team lied about the attack, the lack of any connection to the obscure video, and the pleas from Libya to bolster security. All of this was done to protect the Obama claim to greatness in propelling the "Arab spring."
So before we close the book on the murders in Benghazi, we need to find out if Barack Obama, in the midst of all his fundraisers and appearances on friendly TV shows, ever sat down with his security team and tried to get to the bottom of the supposedly conflicting stories. David Axelrod wouldn't give a straight answer to a simple question as to whether he met with his National Security Council the day after the attack before jetting off to Las Vegas for a fundraiser.

No wonder Senators McCain, Graham, and Ayotte are not satisfied.
However, we must remember that the events of September 11 were preceded by an escalating pattern of attacks this year in Benghazi, including a bomb that was thrown into our Consulate in April, another explosive device that was detonated outside of our Consulate in June, and an assassination attempt on the British Ambassador. If the President was truly not aware of this rising threat level in Benghazi, then we have lost confidence in his national security team, whose responsibility it is to keep the President informed. But if the President was aware of these earlier attacks in Benghazi prior to the events of September 11, 2012, then he bears full responsibility for any security failures that occurred. The security of Americans serving our nation everywhere in the world is ultimately the job of the Commander-in-Chief. The buck stops there.

And Hillary Clinton thought the same thing back in 2008 when she declared that "The buck stops in the Oval Office." Well, not when Barack Obama is president.

Furthermore, there is the separate issue of the insistence by members of the Administration, including the President himself, that the attack in Benghazi was the result of a spontaneous demonstration triggered by a hateful video, long after it had become clear that the real cause was a terrorist attack. The President also bears responsibility for this portrayal of the attack, and we continue to believe that the American people deserve to know why the Administration acted as it did.
Hillary's statement that she takes the responsibility for events in Benghazi will perhaps be portrayed as a brave and mature response. It reminds me of when Janet Reno took responsibility for the disaster in Waco. That made her more popular and got Bill Clinton off the hook. It seems that now all someone has to do is say she takes responsibility and we're supposed to stop asking questions. But there are clearly more questions and a political campaign might be a good time to insist on some answers.