One year ago, after several months of delay in testifying, excuses included having the flu and treatment for a blood clot contraindicated for the manner in which she claimed to have acquired it, Hillary Clinton finally appeared before one of the Senate committees investigating the armed assault in Benghazi. Not required to be under oath, it was during this testimony in which she uttered her now-infamous indignant, “What difference, at this point, does it make?” reply to one Senator’s question. I waited for him or any of the other Senators to explain so simple an answer, none was forthcoming. An unfortunate circumstance for it seems hardly anyone, from the president and his Administration to Members of Congress to television commentators (I call them the punditry) to random citizens posting comment on Facebook, seems to understand just what difference was that night of September 11, 2012. Allow me to write a kind of primer for Mrs. Clinton and anyone else who needs the edification.
As Secretary of State, Clinton tasked Christopher Stevens, the United States Ambassador to Libya, on a still-undisclosed diplomatic mission in the very dangerous city of Benghazi. Because the ambassador’s presence was required, the diplomatic compound his residence, it became adjunct to the embassy in Tripoli; it turned that little piece of Libya into sovereign U.S. soil. For those who are unaware, an embassy does not sit on the soil of the host country but in fact, the soil of the nation of the country represented. All over America there are pieces of the nations of the world; all over the world, there are pieces of America. That is what made the difference that night – not just American lives in mortal danger but America herself attacked, a fact known to U.S. Navy Seals then working as contractors at the local CIA Annex, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty. Both men disobeyed the Stand Down order from the president that was passed along the chain-of-command, they felt it was worth any punishment to get to the compound, to help defend America until more military assistance, they were certain, would arrive. Both were killed by the attackers in that defense, heroes by any description of the word.
Of late I am reading comments and seeing lists of the incidents at embassies and diplomatic stations that occurred during the presidency of George W, Bush; the lists include the number of diplomatic personnel killed. The tone of the comments imply that those of us upset and still demanding answers to important questions about Benghazi are only making a big deal out of the attack because Obama is president, Clinton an all-but-declared candidate for 2016. They seem to believe all the incidents can be compared apples to apples; this is not the case. Not to denigrate the loss of any of those American souls, but there is in fact a key difference between those attacks and what happened in Benghazi that night: In the case of those other attacks, a United States Ambassador was not assassinated.
Yes, I use that word specifically. In other news stories it is always written that four Americans died that night; that is inaccurate. Three Americans were murdered and an ambassador assassinated in a terrorist armed assault on a U.S. diplomatic compound. Again, for those who appear to be unaware of that significance, a United States Ambassador is the personal representative of the President. It could be described as his being the diplomatic shadow of Obama to the other nations of the world. Amb. Stevens was directly targeted that night, his diary and his security concerns made that quite clear. It was bad enough to have the President and the Secretary of State lie about the cause, the reason for the assault during the ceremony in front of the flag-draped caskets holding the remains of the four Americans who lost their lives, a ceremony purported to honor their return home, but it is outrageous in the extreme to have some members of that punditry now attempt to blame Ambassador Stevens for the assault, his own death. In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece published January 22, 2014, former Deputy Mission Chief at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Gregory Hicks lays out the details of the expressed security concerns, made in both written cable and video conference, by his former superior and late friend, Amb. Stevens. As Mr. Hicks notes, for some unknown reason his testimony was not included in the final draft of the report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released last week. This glaring omission has allowed many political commentators on the left to attempt to blame Stevens for his own demise, and to absolve then-responsible for everything which occurred under her watch, Secretary of State Clinton. Yet one more question added to the ever-growing list: Why was such important information, provided under oath, not included in the committee’s report?
The whole narrative has been made much more complicated that it ever ought to have been, in part due to the lack of interest, focus on the part of Congress and the media. I have written this before and will repeat the following as often as necessary: Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty knew the difference it made, and they gave their lives for that difference.