When we look at the checkered history of the presidency, we are faced with men who have “done wrong for the greater good” on several occasions. Sometimes these actions were for the “greater good” of the nation, the people, or the president himself. The only thing that differentiates the presidents and their legacy is whether or not they got caught, as my father would say.
President Richard M. Nixon was elected during a time of trouble in the nation. Protests about civil rights, the Vietnam War, the draft and more abounded. In 1968 Nixon won 43.42% of the popular vote to become president. In the run up to the 1972 election there was a break-in of the Democrat National Party offices in the Watergate Building. To avoid the potential scandal of impeachment, Nixon resigned in 1974.
President Clinton survived an impeachment during his term in office. In 1999 the Congress split on one charge and acquitted on the other two charges. The allegations about Clinton were numerous but in the end none were proven.
In neither the Nixon or Clinton scandals were actual lives put at risk. This is not the case with the current administration. Let us consider the following.
President Obama is faced with more serious allegations as he runs for re-election. Operation Fast and Furious began in 2009 and came to light following the December 14, 2011, murder of border patrol agent Brian Terry in Arizona with guns tracked to the Fast and Furious operation. In March 2011 John Dodson spoke to CBS News and broke the gun walking scandal that, admittedly, dates back to the Bush administration.
What ties Obama to this scandal is the protections offered by the White House to Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder was held in contempt of Congress by the House for failing to answer a subpoena for internal documentation for the Department of Justice related to gun walking programs. Please note, the documentation requested was for "gun walking" and not just "Fast and Furious." Rather than help the investigation, the president declared the documents protected by Executive Privilege.
Executive Privilege is meant to protect the communications of the Executive Branch; the president and his advisers. Nixon and Clinton were over-ruled by the Courts in their use of Executive Privilege to protect themselves. In this case it is not the president, or his office, being protected but the attorney general.
In recent weeks there is new and disturbing information coming out regarding the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and subsequent murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Initially, following the attack on September 11, 2012, the White House denied this was an organized terrorist attack. In the days following the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations went on a talk show circuit to blame the attacks on an amateurish, hate-filled video.
On Tuesday, October 9, 2012 it was reported that Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy had briefed members of Congress on September 12, in an unclassified session, that the attacks were terrorist related. Yet four days later, Ambassador Susan Rice told five separate television talk shows the attacks were neither coordinated nor premeditated, blaming the above mentioned video. It was several weeks before the administration admitted in public that the attacks on our consulate in Benghazi were terrorism and not a mob scene.
Indicators of the terrorist nature as opposed to a mob are numerous. The use of mortars and rockets, while RPGs are common people do not carry around mortars even in the Middle East. These are heavy, crew-served weapons that need to be emplaced. The accuracy of their employment indicates pre-mission planning.
The Safe House, a supposedly secret location, came under heavy mortar attack within minutes of the diplomatic convoy arriving from the Consulate. According to one survivor the first mortar round was short but the rest hit the target. This is not the work of a snap decision to grab a mortar and fire it; range and angles were all accounted for well in advance.
CNN reported on Wednesday October 10, 2012, that Libyan security personnel reported the attack on the consulate followed loud chanting. The consulate first came under heavy automatic weapons and RPG fire before being assaulted from three sides. It takes time to coordinate a multi-prong attack, supported by heavy machine guns and rockets. Not to mention the mortars used to attack the safe house. This was not a spur of the moment tactical decision.
More concerning is the information that is coming out about the security team’s recommendations in August. A security support team consisting of 16 members of the Army Special Forces soldiers, commonly known as Green Berets for their distinctive headgear, were in Libya in the weeks before the attacks. Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Wood, who commanded the team, has been summonsed to Congress to address questions about his reports.
Members of the administration are pre-emptively denying that LTC Wood’s team had anything to do with Benghazi, yet their presence at the consulate was noted by diplomats and Libyan security forces. The team’s stay in Libya was extended at the request of the Ambassador until August. LTC Wood claims the ambassador requested another extension but the team was replaced with Diplomatic Security Special Agents.
The Special Forces unit was assisting with not only security, but training local guards, explosives disposal, medical training and acting as a quick reaction team. These are skills far outside those of the Diplomatic Security Special Agents sent to replace them, despite claims of no reduction in skill sets. Special Agents “advise ambassadors on all security issues and coordinate all of a mission's security programs” according to the State Department’s job description.
Would the presence of the USSF unit in Libya have prevented the attacks? Probably not. The question is not whether or not the Special Forces should have stayed but what information was known by the State Department and the administration and what was ignored?
We have already seen the administration and State Department try to divert the public from the truth by waving the red herring of a video. We have heard them say repeatedly the attacks were an out of control mob protesting. It took two weeks for them to admit the truth. BBC World Service reported on September 12 of the terrorists forming up and setting up heavy weapons prior to the attacks and the protest. This information was in the public, not classified in any way.
Based on prior congressional investigations into the wrong-doings of presidents who tried to hide information, it is time for Congress to investigate this president. We need to know why the State Department and president denied a terrorist connection. We need to know what recommendations and warnings were received through Lieutenant Colonel Wood’s reports and why they were ignored.
We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to those who represent our nation overseas in diplomatic missions. We owe it to the memory of Ambassador Stevens and his staff, those who died and those who survived.