Yesterday was a pretty unbelievable day. The hearing on Benghazi in the House Oversight and Reform committee was compelling and credible. If you didn't get the chance to see it, Greg Hicks' recount of what happened on the night of the attack was riveting, at times spellbinding.
Just to re-cap, here are some of the main things we learned from yesterday's hearing.
- The YouTube video was a “non-event” in Libya. It was never reported to anyone, even Hillary Clinton herself whom Hicks spoke to at 2am, that there was a protest involved. Perhaps the biggest question remains, who then came up with the YouTube narrative for the talking points and why?
- State Department official Beth Jones knew on September 12th the true nature of this attack, telling Libya's ambassador to Washington, “The group that conducted the attacks, Ansar al-Sharia, is affiliated with Islamic terrorists.”
- Multiple stand down orders were given, including one to highly trained personnel in Tripoli who were ready to board a plane and save their colleagues under siege in Benghazi. One of the biggest questions remains, who gave those stand down orders?
- Greg Hicks was basically told by the State Department not to speak to the Congressional delegation investigating Benghazi without a lawyer present. When a lawyer sent with the delegation was excluded from a meeting because he/she failed to meet the proper security clearance, Hillary Clinton's Chief of Staff, Cheryl Mills, called Hicks personally and was “upset” that her lawyer was not present in the meeting.
- Hicks said his “jaw-dropped” on the day Susan Rice went on the Sunday talk shows claiming a YouTube video was responsible for the attack. He called it “embarrassing” and also pointed out the public embarrassment of Libya's president, who on the very same show told us the real story. This embarrassment led to diplomatic complications, which compromised FBI's ability to get to Benghazi quickly and collect evidence.
- After Susan Rice's comments on the Sunday talk shows, Hicks contacted Beth Jones of the State Department asking why she would say that and Jones replied “I don't know.” (Remember, this woman knew on September 12th who was responsible for the attack.) But Hicks got the impression that he wasn't to ask any more questions. His management style was later criticized and he has since been demoted.
Here's the bottom line: We know we were lied to. We know that the administration tried to make it difficult for us to find out what really happened. We know that four Americans died when it's possible they didn't have to. We know that the talking points were right, and then they were wrong. While we don't know exactly why that's the case, we have a pretty good gut feeling as to why the talking points were changed: It was in the heat of an election. Liberals may scream that this is politicizing the issue, but the fact is that the administration politicized the issue when it tried to make Benghazi a non-issue for political purposes. Sometimes politicizing isn't just about what you say, but it's about what your ignore and in this case I believe the administration ignored the truth.
Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee brought up a good point yesterday during the hearing and that is the fact that this president has made it a policy not to jump to conclusions when it comes to tragedies or events. Case in point, look at how hard his administration has pushed back about the use of chemical weapons in Syria. They have been extremely cautious to figure out exactly who used these weapons and when they were used, calling for a UN investigation into the matter before the United States does anything or makes a declaration on the issue. Yet in the case of Benghazi, there was an immediate jump to conclusions – the wrong conclusion – based on what?
It is clear that Democrats are united in their efforts to protect the administration, including Hillary Clinton, even in light of the truth. If you listened to the questions (more like statements) yesterday from the Democrats, it was obvious that their agenda was to defend not to seek truth. I don't understand how “the truth” has somehow become political, but it has. Other Democrats such as Debbie Wasserman Schultz did her part in advancing the narrative that this is a “witch-hunt” designed to discredit Hillary Clinton and dampen her chances for a 2016 run for the White House. The media has clearly aided in proliferating this talking point.
Joe Biden did his best the day before the hearing to praise Susan Rice and went as far as to say, “When she speaks…no one wonders whether or not she is speaking for the president.” Well we now know definitively that Susan Rice, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton – anyone who mentioned the YouTube video as the cause – was lying.
The White House itself yesterday brushed aside questions about Benghazi, claiming that changes to the talking points were nothing more than “stylistic.” Really, Jay Carney? This comes after last week being told that Benghazi was “a long time ago.” If the administration is truly engaged in a relentless effort to brings those responsible to justice, they sure are hiding it well.
Anyway as explosive as the hearing was yesterday, the media reaction has ranged from laughable to absurd.
I mean, did you see the Tweet sent out by the Washington Post yesterday? I found it almost hard to believe it was real. The Tweet read: “Who's tweeting about Benghazi? Rich, middle-aged men and Chick-fil-A lovers wapo.st/18YFgKP”
People like TIME's Joel Klein is just another part of the lapdog media that is trying to brush this off as nothing more than “Republicans chasing their tails.”
To their credit, the Washington Post, the New York Times and others did cover the hearings, but is it sad that this seems unexpected? Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the TV networks.
Newsbusters did an analysis of coverage yesterday. Fox News was the first one to start airing the hearing live at 11:36am and aired the most unobstructed coverage. CNN finally started airing some of the coverage at Noon and MSNBC jumped in there a while later, but featured little of the live testimony, mostly a discussion among liberal guests. The three networks, CBS, NBC and ABC, did not break into regular coverage to air the hearing, according to Newsbusters.
Even before the hearing began, NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd was already trying to downplay the hearing as basically a conspiracy theory and tried rationalizing the administration's actions. Chris Matthews apparently managed to go an hour yesterday without mentioning the hearing, but he finally did addressed it as “this thing called Benghazi.” This “thing,” Mr. Matthews, resulted in the death of four brave Americans. Last night, Rachel Maddow slammed Benghazi as nothing more than a conspiracy theory being pushed by the Republicans. This is what the media wants you to believe – they want you to believe that the search for the truth makes you a fringe conspiracy theorist.
And then finally, I find it sad that journalists exposing the truth such as Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News are supposedly singled out by her bosses for “wading dangerously close to advocacy.” Has this what we've come to? Pursuit of the truth, if it isn't the politically convenient truth, is suddenly labeled advocacy? That's amazing and if it's true, a sad statement on the state of the news media in this country today.
More hearings on Benghazi are expected, with more witnesses and perhaps revisiting some who have already testified or at least been interviewed. Any additional information exposed with continue to be pigeon-holed as partisan witch-hunting. That's the current political and media climate in which we are living.