Someone is very nervous about the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s upcoming Benghazi hearings. For months we heard nothing about the survivors of the 9/11 attacks on our consulate in Benghazi. No personal experiences, no details about the wounded, nothing. It was like they did not exist.
Then, in recent weeks, we started hearing about whistleblowers – people within an organization who want to bring to light misdeeds within said organization – related to the Benghazi attacks. These folks, people within the State Department and the CIA, apparently, have a story to tell, and someone is not happy for them to tell it.
Now we have reports of witness intimidation. Victoria Toensing, an attorney for one of the Benghazi witnesses, claims that witnesses are facing pressure from the State Department as they prepare to testify this week before the House committee. While they have not been dealt direct threats, “administration officials have insinuated witnesses could lose their jobs or get passed up for promotions if they testify.”
On Sunday’s Monica Crowley radio show, Toensing also suggested that another classic reprisal technique could be used against the witnesses. Because their work is very sensitive security-wise, they could be called upon to renew their security clearances early. Usually done every five years, this rather arduous process delves into every aspect of a person’s life. If an early renewal process should just happen to find something negative, it could cause the unfortunate witness to be bumped down a couple of levels in his or her security clearance, making it difficult to continue in the same job or to take on new jobs.
President Obama stated on Wednesday, May 1, “I’m not familiar with this notion that anybody’s been blocked from testifying.” This, from the man who claimed the attack was a spontaneous reaction to an obscure anti-Islamic video.
White House press secretary Jay Carney, at a White House press briefing, said, “Benghazi happened a long time ago. We are unaware of any agency blocking an employee who would like to appear before Congress to provide information related to Benghazi.”
A long time ago? Really? How long did we talk about Watergate? Or Iran-Contra? The attacks in Benghazi happened less than eight months ago. People died, and it is very clear that our leaders at the highest levels have lied. (Remember the phrase “Bush lied. People died”? I think we heard about that for more than eight months.)
This has the potential to be much bigger than Watergate. The difference here is that we don’t have the pit bull media dogging the administration’s heels about it every moment. This is a Democrat administration after all. But people died, including our ambassador, Chris Stevens, and the American people need to know what happened and what role our leaders played in this travesty.
The question, of course, is who is putting the pressure on these witnesses? Who has the most to lose? President Obama most certainly would like to see this go away. My generation has seen one president step down to avoid impeachment and another impeached but not convicted. What happened in Benghazi appears be much more serious than either of those two crimes, especially with all the covering up and back tracking that seems to be going on. This could bring down his presidency, even without the help of the media.
My guess, however, is that it is not the current president that is most at risk. I think the person who stands to benefit the most by silencing the witnesses is Hillary Clinton, who almost certainly will be the Democratic nominee for president in 2016. The Benghazi attacks happened on her watch as Secretary of State, and what these witnesses reveal has the potential to make her look incompetent and even treasonous.
Hillary is no dummy. Always the politician, she resigned her post as Secretary of State early this year and has been distancing herself from the Benghazi attacks ever since. Her comment, “What difference, at this point, does it make?” has not gone away, however, and will haunt her in any future campaign.
So, two historical presidencies hang in the balance. Will Benghazi bring down our first black president? Will Hillary Clinton lose her chance to be our first female president? Yes, someone is very nervous. This week’s hearings will give us a good idea who that is. Pay attention, America!