President Obama responds to questions about Benghazi Monday.
Associated Press/Photo by J. Scott Applewhite
President Obama responds to questions about Benghazi Monday.

Benghazi is not ‘a sideshow’

Benghazi Attack

When the deputy chief of mission in Libya gives an anguished account of last September’s attack for the first time—as Gregory Hicks did last week—a legitimate chronology of events suggesting the United States may not have done all it could to protect U.S. officials who came under attack, here’s the response you’d expect from the White House: “We regret the loss of life, especially of men with outstanding records of civilian and military service to the United States, and we welcome renewed congressional oversight to help U.S. policymakers ensure that it doesn’t happen again.”

Obamaesque, right? Diplomatic and even-handed for a president who says he’s looking for more cooperation from Capitol Hill. But here’s what President Barack Obama said instead: “There’s no there there. … We dishonor [the attack’s victims] when we turn things like this into a political circus. … The whole issue of talking points, frankly, throughout this process has been a sideshow.”

Note: Obama never acknowledged any question raised in Hicks’ testimony, or the serious questions about the State Department quashing testimony of a high-ranking diplomat in Libya at the time of the attack. And most media reports focus solely on the political ramifications without acknowledging the unanswered questions either.

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So here are some key questions:

  • Why did Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others for nearly a week claim the attack was the result of a U.S.-made video when Hicks and others report it a terrorist attack?
  • Why did staff for UN Ambassador Susan Rice not contact Hicks, the top remaining U.S. official in Libya and last person to speak with Ambassador Chris Stevens, before Rice appeared on five Sunday morning shows to talk about the incident? Hicks said he personally knows members of her staff. (And how did Rice become the spokeswoman after the attack when Clinton was Stevens’ boss?)
  • State Department officials have not accused Hicks of lying, so why has he been demoted to a desk job after 22 years of diplomatic service overseas?
  • What happened during the hours (four or more) that Stevens’ body was missing after he was dragged (presumably alive) from the U.S. Consulate and later turned up at a hospital run by Ansar al-Sharia, the group responsible for the attack?
  • Why have official autopsy results on Stevens not been made public and what do they reveal?
  • Why did the U.S. military not respond in any way for nearly six hours after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta learned of the attack, and why was it then ordered to stand down?
  • Why did the State Department deny requests—by media and congressional committees—to interview the U.S. regional security officer in Libya, Alec Henderson?
  • What role did then CIA Director David Petraeus play in the unfolding events and handling, given that he was almost immediately forced to resign over allegations of an affair?
  • And lastly, why is everyone in the Obama administration—except those who were in Libya at the time—protesting so much?


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