On Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sat before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. It was billed as Benghazi: The Attacks and the Lessons Learned. Members of the committee, however, didn’t come to learn lessons. This was a planned ambush, not of Secretary Clinton, but of every federal employee, foreign diplomat, law enforcement officer, humanitarian, and military service member who has ever been asked to keep a watchful eye on a fluid and dangerous world on behalf of their fellow Americans.
Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) said, "It's been a cover-up from the beginning,” while Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he would have removed her from her duties if he were president. Those set on making this about fault showed no sense of mutual accountability. On the other hand, the Democrats, who rushed to compliment her as one of the greatest secretaries of state in history, showed no real understanding that the Department of State is reliant on their willingness to be mutually responsible for our national security.
What difference does it make? To deny the truth spoken by the Secretary - that "we need to get our act together between the Congress and the administration" -- is to insure that Americans have a dysfunctional government incapable of coming together united in the single purpose of keeping our nation safe.
The truth is: Benghazi was a terrorist attack, terrorists attacks are wildly frantic by design, protecting against them is expensive, and fighting them off requires all hands on deck. The Senate has been MIA. They have been MIA in their budget obligations. They have been MIA in having hard conversations about where we find ourselves as the world leader in a new world. And, Wednesday, they proved that they may not even be capable of even actually reporting for duty in a prepared and professional manner.
The committee brags that their function it to "take the lead on foreign policy and overseeing funding foreign aid." As such, it certainly stands to reason that on this day – the day they set aside to learn lessons on what when wrong – their job was simple; take responsibility for the part they played in the events leading up to the murdering of four Americans by terrorists. They could have chosen today to be accountable to the American people for their inability to pass a budget befitting a nation in a global war of terrorism, for example. Secretary Clinton took responsibility, yet not one single Senator did nor did they even bother to ask; what could we have done better to help the Department of State better protect America and her sons and daughters?
Secretary Clinton has been the type of aggressive, approachable, and adept secretary of state a modern America requires. But she is human. As are the 850,000 American’s who have the task of putting the pieces together, most of the time before those pieces can even be fathomed. Can you imagine spending your day trying to imagine what a terrorist might come up with next? Of course not, but the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee are suppose to be experts. They are suppose to know how messy a terrorist attack is, how fragmented information can be and how complex imagining the unimaginable is.
However, they acted blameless on Wednesday, when they could have acted instead like full on partners with a mutual mission. However, they chose to not really find the answer to one question: how do we stop them next time? While Secretary Clinton went into painstaking details of the event in an effort to tell her government what the Department of State needs from them to keep us safe, they showed a real fervor for devouring her and the good people of the intelligence community when what we need - as a nation - is for the Senate to do their job.
The Senate today belittled itself as a body by not coming alongside the Department of State in an effort to really learn the lessons of Benghazi and by mirroring her inspiring leadership and choosing to take responsibility for what they did, what they didn't do, and what they will do differently for us all.