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home : opinions : commentary May 23, 2016


5/15/2014 1:42:00 PM
Commentary: Benghazi probe didn't have to come to this

Byron York


Many Democrats have a hard time understanding why Republicans want to keep investigating the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.

Some see the GOP trying to score partisan points for this November's midterms. Others see a plot to undermine Hillary Clinton's 2016 prospects. Still others see Republican psychosis, the Benghazi variant of Obama Derangement Syndrome.

In fact, the Benghazi controversy, rather than being an all-out political war, is a limited conflict in which some parts of the administration have cooperated with Congress while others haven't. Republican sources on Capitol Hill say that in general, the Pentagon's cooperation has been a model of how to deal with such an investigation, while the State Department and White House have been models of what not to do.

If the rest of the administration had followed the military's example, the Benghazi controversy would likely be over by now.

The probe started with three questions. One, was the U.S. adequately prepared for possible trouble abroad on the anniversary of Sept. 11? Two, did the government do everything it could to try to rescue the Americans who were under attack for seven and a half hours? And three, did the Obama administration tell the straight story about what happened?

Responsibility for answering the first and third questions fell heavily on the State Department and the White House. In general, their response has been incomplete, unreliable, confrontational and deeply frustrating for investigators trying to piece together the Benghazi puzzle.

But responsibility for answering the second question, about the immediate response to the attack, fell mostly to the Pentagon. And that has been an entirely different story.

The military side of the investigation was done mostly by the House Armed Services Committee. The interim report from majority Republicans on the committee, released in February, found that the military response to Benghazi was severely hampered because every significant U.S. military asset was out of position to respond on Sept. 11.

Nevertheless, the committee concluded the Pentagon did everything it could with what it had on that ugly night. "The regional and global force posture assumed by the military on Sept. 11, 2012, limited the response," committee Republicans wrote.

Given that, the investigators said, "members have not yet discerned any response alternatives that could have likely changed the outcome of the Benghazi attack."

Interviewing sources up and down the chain of command, Republicans went over all the military options that were activated or considered to aid the Americans under attack: two FAST platoons of Marines in Spain; a group called the Commander's In-Extremis Force, in Croatia; a special operations unit based in the U.S.; a fighter jet flyover; an armed drone; and more.

The GOP lawmakers came away satisfied that they saw everything; for example, when they asked whether AC-130 gunships could have been used, the Pentagon provided the location of every single AC-130 in the U.S. fleet at that time.

Another example was the possibility of a flyover. Even with other U.S. forces out of place, many lawmakers wondered whether American fighter jets could have buzzed the scene at Benghazi, possibly distracting and scattering the terrorists.

Air Force officials carefully walked the committee through every option that was available, and the factors -- capacity for refueling, overflight permissions, nighttime guidance, the prevalence of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles in Libya, and more -- that went into the decision not to scramble the jets.

After much thought and investigation, committee Republicans concluded a flyover "would probably have been ineffective" and that the Pentagon's decision "makes sense."

In the end, Republicans had few, if any, complaints about the military's cooperation. "They were very responsive," says a GOP committee aide. "There wasn't a witness we weren't allowed to talk to. There was never an inappropriate delay in providing the documents we wanted to see. Their response was, as far as we're concerned, timely and complete."

What a contrast to the rest of the Obama administration. First, there was the attempt to blame the attack on outrage over an anti-Muslim Internet video -- a claim that was quickly discounted by everyone who has investigated the matter.

Then the State Department conducted an internal review that seemed designed, in part, to build a firewall around then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Then the administration failed to make available a single witness who was actually on the ground in Benghazi the night of the attack.

And recently, of course, Republican complaints that the administration has withheld documents were dramatically confirmed by revelations of emails the administration failed to produce to Congress.

The administration's stance long ago exhausted whatever patience existed among Hill Republicans. Members are "really tired of getting jerked around," another aide said recently. That's a succinct explanation for the creation of the new select committee.

But it didn't have to be that way. The rest of the administration could have cooperated like the Defense Department. If it had, Washington would be talking about something else now. Instead, the fight goes on.



(Byron York is chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner.)


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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Article comment by: Larry Mosher

The article was well written and unbiased. As for the comment, not so much so. Very good journalism.......


Posted: Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Article comment by: nutso fasst

Ms Heartman, you are arguably correct. Besides the Benghazi debacle, five attacks during the Obama administration were pre-planned by armed groups:

Apr 2010, consulate in Peshawar attacked by suicide bombers.
Jul 2011, embassy in Damascus stormed by Assad loyalists.
Sep 2011, embassy in Kabul attacked by Taliban with RPGs.
Feb 2013, embassy in Ankara attacked by suicide bomber.
Sep 2013, consulate in Herat attacked by Taliban w/RPGs and truck bomb.

The concerted Sep 2012 assault by riled-up Islamist mobs protesting freedom of speech in the U.S. was on embassies in Cairo, Khartoum, Sana'a, Tunis, and Jakarta.


Posted: Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Article comment by: Mary Jane

Desperation, thy name is GOP. Judging by the commenting right wingers, Republicans have reached a desperation hither-to-unknown. Their Benghazi delusions have proven to be....well, delusions.

They continually ask themselves, "Why won't the American public believe our lies?" Of course the answer lies in the question!

Let the howling and gnashing of teeth commence, it will avail you not! Until you wing nuts learn to tell the truth, your political aspirations for the presidency will continue to elude you!



Posted: Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Article comment by: Slater Slater

King Obama won't consult congress as required when trading with Taliban.
Hillary supported his actions and is complicant
in the Bengasi coverup.She won't participate
in that investigation.Two pea's in a pod.
Want more of the same? Vote Hillary.
The military means nothing to her.Obviously
the constitution doesn't apply eather.
She will never be a Bill Clinton but may have sleep overs if you get my drift.


Posted: Monday, June 2, 2014
Article comment by: Slater Slater

Looks like bengazi just went to the back burner.The elected US King has deemed he alone will make the decisions.
This is the first time in history that the USA
has enabled a terrorist group to recoup some of the USA's greatest enemies.
I'm so glad the democrats are now in an election cycle that has the spin doctors working 24-7.
Hilary your off the hook,let the truth be buried
with your election babble.Put your flip flops on.


Posted: Monday, June 2, 2014
Article comment by: Mary Heartman

@ Nutso Fasst
Are you sure there were six attacks on U.S. embassies and consulates since Barack Obama took office? I could only find five. Not easily--you are absolutely correct about no screaming over attacks on U.S. embassies and consulates.


Posted: Monday, June 2, 2014
Article comment by: David In Cottonwood

Lol, keep reaching there 'GOP Minion', you may one day get Something right.
In the mean time, even a broken clock has a better record than you do. Cheers :)


Posted: Saturday, May 31, 2014
Article comment by: GOP Minion

Oh David, the anguish you must feel from your self inflicted 'Cassandra Complex'. Is it really your belief that you're some sort of intellectual? Good Lord that's rich! Hahahahahahahahahaha...

Do you know what is readily apparent? Your inferiority complex. You find yourself so intimidated trying to match wits with the other bloggers in this forum that you over compensate by using vocabulary you do not truly comprehend. You continual misuse of the English language is enough to make one cringe when reading it, but by all means continue! Hahahahahahaha...



Posted: Saturday, May 31, 2014
Article comment by: GOP Minion

Oh David, the anguish you must feel from your self inflicted 'Cassandra Complex'. Is it really your belief that you're some sort of intellectual? Good Lord that's rich! Hahahahahahahahahaha...

Do you know what is readily apparent? Your inferiority complex. You find yourself so intimidated trying to match wits with the other bloggers in this forum that you over compensate by using vocabulary you do not truly comprehend. You continual misuse of the English language is enough to make one cringe when reading it, but by all means continue! Hahahahahahaha...



Posted: Friday, May 30, 2014
Article comment by: David In Cottonwood

GOP Minion bringing the ad hominem response, lol. I mistakenly thought you wished to be taken seriously. What's with the nom de guerre btw, seems like a bit of a non sequitur?

As for being a bit better read, observant, and more knowledgeable than you on certain issues, that�s readily obvious. It has nothing to do with Beck or FOX News, I�m not a loyal follower of either. No need to check myself on anything. :)

The fact that you frame your argument around the premise that that�s where my information comes from is what gives rise to my accusation that you�re guilty of using a bifurcation fallacy.

Look up bifurcation fallacies if you don�t understand it. Here�s a hint, Pascal�s Wager is a good example.


Posted: Friday, May 30, 2014
Article comment by: GOP Minion

Aaah David, more from the right wing apologist.

Since EVERY item you quoted was mentioned on FOX, EVERY single one, not sure how your denial is relevant. FOX is hardly news. It's not quite clear what you mean by 'fallacy of bifurcation'. Perhaps you have deceived yourself into thinking that watching FOX and/or Glenn Beck channels gives you some sort of perspicacious view of the world that is unseen by others? Might want to check yourself on that.


Posted: Friday, May 30, 2014
Article comment by: David In Cottonwood

‘Just saying’ writes:

“Since 9/11 happened in 2001, and you saw it on tv in 2003, it seems my articles are actually more current than your memory!”

Umm, what? When did the discussion switch to 9/11 and 2001? I was discussing the movement of large convoys of material over the border into Syria in 2003 right before the ground war kicked off in Iraq, Lol. Your articles are indeed more current than the event I saw, but my memories are as current as the moment I wake. In any case, age or the difference in same does not impart reliability to either, so that’s a pretty meaningless observation on your part.

As for the rest of your complaints concerning my sources, you’re committing a mixture of logical fallacies, most notably the blatant use of ‘argumentum ad hominem’, and displaying an inability to do simple research.

I actually have read and researched my sources, apparently you did not. For instance, the link to Melanie Phillips is admittedly difficult to navigate, but due diligence would have gotten you to the article and interview with another eyewitness who was a silenced member of the UN inspection teams. Melanie is not just an author btw, but also a journalist who used to write for the left leaning Brit papers The Guardian and the New Statesman, who is now a journalist and columnist for the Daily Mail. Had you done more than google her name and scanned the results, as you accuse me of doing, you would have known that, nice try though.

Please keep the comments coming you’re making it easy for the readers here to gauge your relevance. I may or may not bother responding. Cheers.




Posted: Thursday, May 29, 2014
Article comment by: Just saying

Since 9/11 happened in 2001, and you saw it on tv in 2003, it seems my articles are actually more current than your memory! Now let’s look at your links ------

From the “About” page
The Washington Times is a daily broadsheet published in Washington, D.C., United States. It was founded in 1982 by the founder of the Unification Church, Sun Myung Moon.
”The Washington Times has lost money every year that it has been in business. By 2002, the Unification Church had spent about $1.7 billion subsidizing the Times.” ~ Wikipedia
According to the article ‘ONE witness says.’ I like to see you take that to a court of law, no proof, no evidence, just ‘ONE witness says.’ A witness who is selling a book, no motive there.

Blogspots are just that, anyone can post anything. No ethical guidelines or reputation to protect.

An Editorial is an opinion, not news. But he says this, “The irony here is that the chemical weapons stockpile of Syrian thug Assad MAY in large part be the legacy of weapons moved from Hussein's Iraq into Syria before Operation Iraqi Freedom.” The use of the word “may” means he is guessing, it is not conclusive.

Your next link goes to another book being sold on Amazon.com. Do you understand the words motive and bias?

The next link is William Kristol’s publication, no bias there. Please explain how this article supports your position. ”Who'll Let the Docs Out? Bush wants to release the Saddam files but his intelligence chief stalls.”

The last link is to another author’s page. It has nothing about WMDs.

Do you just google “conservative conspiracies” and just accept what ever pops up? You obviously didn’t even read any of your links.


Posted: Thursday, May 29, 2014
Article comment by: Slater Slater

The only thing PHONY about the deaths in
Bengasi is Hillary Clinton.She sent her good friend to be slaughtered,good job.Covered it up like a good Presidential Candidate should
if you want to stand a chance in the election.

Like I've said before Phony scandals don't
send the victim's home in Phony body bags.
Guess Americans are targets with no protection or recourse with the one responsible running for Pres.


Posted: Thursday, May 29, 2014
Article comment by: David In Cottonwood

GOP Minion writes:

"But if you think using 'news' from FOX conspiracy tabloid channel gives you any legitimacy, you are out-of-touch with reality in a big, big way!"

Well seeing as how I didn't use any information from FOX news I'm not sure how your comment is relevant, and your accusation of such seems to point to you being 'out of touch', or at least having an obvious ax to grind.
CNN is hardly FOX News.

As for the 'big R' being liars, I don't have an argument with that I'm not a 'big R'. Both of the big 2 parties are so involved in their own empire building it's an act of herculean proportions to winnow the morsels of truth out of anything they proclaim.
Your reply seems to indicate you are the unwitting proponent of a fallacy of bifurcation. Might want to look into that.



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