There is no escaping the fact that, where Benghazi is concerned, there is blood in the water and the mainstream media has (at long last) picked up the scent. Yesterday, the sharks representing the three major TV networks circled Press Secretary Jay Carney, bombarding him with questions that were uncharacteristically tough.
ABC’s Jonathan Karl, who broke the story that the talking points underwent twelve revisions, had the aspect and attitude of a man scorned and determined to set the record straight as much to clear his own name as to ascertain the truth. When Carney attempted to weasel out of his claim earlier in the week that the White House had merely made minor “stylistic” changes to the talking points, Karl was adamant and unrelenting.
While there are now premature suggestions that impeachment may be in the president’s future, there is no dismissing the fact that this is a major cover-up whose potential for harming administration members present and past (that means you, Hillary!) should not be underestimated. As Mark Steyn reminds us, in January, Clinton “denied ever seeing Ambassador Stevens’s warnings about deteriorating security in Libya on the grounds that ‘1.43 million cables come to my office’ — and she can’t be expected to see all of them, or any,” adding:
Once Ambassador Stevens was in his flag-draped coffin listening to her eulogy for him at Andrews Air Force Base, he was her bestest friend in the world — it was all ‘Chris this’ and ‘Chris that,’ as if they’d known each other since third grade. But up till that point he was just one of 1.43 million close personal friends of Hillary trying in vain to get her ear.
Now we know that at 8 p.m. Eastern time on the last night of Stevens’s life, his deputy in Libya spoke to Secretary Clinton and informed her of the attack in Benghazi and the fact that the ambassador was now missing. An hour later, Gregory Hicks received a call from the then–Libyan prime minister, Abdurrahim el-Keib, informing him that Stevens was dead. Hicks immediately called Washington. It was 9 p.m. Eastern time, or 3 a.m. in Libya. Remember the Clinton presidential team’s most famous campaign ad? About how Hillary would be ready to take that 3 a.m.call? Four years later, the phone rings, and Secretary Clinton’s not there. She doesn’t call Hicks back that evening. Or the following day.
Are murdered ambassadors like those 1.43 million cables she doesn’t read? Just too many of them to keep track of? No. Only six had been killed in the history of the republic — seven, if you include Arnold Raphel, who perished in General Zia’s somewhat mysterious plane crash in Pakistan in 1988. Before that you have to go back to Adolph Dubs, who died during a kidnapping attempt in Kabul in 1979. So we have here a once-in-a-third-of-a-century event. And at 3 a.m. Libyan time on September 12 it’s still unfolding, with its outcome unclear. Hicks is now America’s head man in the country, and the cabinet secretary to whom he reports says, ‘Leave a message after the tone and I’ll get back to you before the end of the week.’ Just to underline the difference here: Libya’s head of government calls Hicks, but nobody who matters in his own government can be bothered to.
That includes Obama, who was off to a big campaign fundraiser in Las Vegas.
Yet, the view from the liberal blogosphere is still “Nothing to see here.” The expectation that the testimony before the House Oversight Committee by three whistleblowers on Wednesday would “break the dam that would lead to President Obama’s eventual downfall?” Pure fantasy. That was how Hayes Brown of ThinkProgress summarized the hearings. If anything, Brown wrote, “these witness [sic] actually served to debunk several theories that the right-wing has pushed on Benghazi, leaving the hearing a fizzle for the GOP.”
Much of his post was devoted to the testimony provided by Gregory Hicks, a Foreign Service Officer and the former Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Libya. Most analysts after the fact found Hicks’s testimony to be among the most riveting and politically toxic to the administration. But not Brown. In his view, Hicks’s account was but a feeble attempt to connect the dots between the White House and the deaths of four Americans in Libya last Sept. 11 collapsed altogether under a withering cross-examination by ranking committee member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).
You’d think with Hicks’s evisceration at the hands of an experienced statesman, there would be no need for a follow-up column. Yet on Friday, Brown delivered a second post-mortem, quoting a former staffer under Hicks who called him “the worst manager I’ve ever seen in the Foreign Service.” Another of Hicks’s former underlings is reported to have said, “Literally every single one of us begged for him to be removed from post.”
The question is why bother devoting column inches to defaming a man who has already been discredited — whose testimony, if anything, vindicates the president and his successor, Hillary Clinton? Could all the president’s acolytes have lapsed into denial, the first of the five stages of grief? Or is this just a case of shooting the messenger? We will learn the answer in the weeks and months to come. The Benghazi cover-up is not going away.