Clinton can't escape Benghazi responsibility

As Americans await the findings from the final Benghazi report, which will be released by the Select Committee on Benghazi any day now, it is important to remember the information the committee has been uncovering thus far.

Based on the collective intelligence compiled by the Select Committee, led by Committee Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyHouse Dem calls on lawmakers to 'insulate' election process following Mueller report Democrats put harassment allegations against Trump on back burner Democrats seize on Mueller-Barr friction MORE, the indisputable fact is that there was a blatant disregard for warning signs, an inept response to the attack, and a fabricated cover-up; a complete and utter failure of will by the senior leadership of the Obama Administration.

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The Obama Administration’s foreign policy in Libya, led by then Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFrustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' Poll: Nearly half of Clinton's former supporters back Biden Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign MORE, was a dismal failure. Most notable was the decision by the Secretary of State to pursue the ouster of Libyan leader Muamar Qaddafi without having a plan in place for what happened afterward. Placing trust in the various militia factions to set aside their longstanding differences and establish a governing body in the war torn country illustrates another amateur mistake. And none of these decisions were in the interests of the United States.

With the deteriorating situation on the ground in Tripoli and Benghazi, hundreds of requests for additional security for the Americans in Libya went unanswered or denied. No precautionary measures were taken, even as the September 11, 2001 anniversary was approaching.

Additional security was denied even though intelligence reports clearly indicated the presence in Libya of Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups hostile to the United States. Even though there had been multiple previous attacks against the diplomatic missions of other countries, and the U.S.’s own outpost in Benghazi, those requests were ignored leading up to the events of September 11th.

It was lunacy on a grand scale.

We expect the Select Committee will single out a number of high-level administration officials for criticism, including the former Secretary of State. Her inaction on the numerous requests for additional security, in addition to her lack of response on the night of the attack, reveals a serious lack of competence. It was more of a “crossed fingers” response to the problem - keeping her fingers crossed and hoping for the best.

President Obama and his closest advisors are no doubt criticized for their insufficient response. While an American diplomatic facility was under attack the President should have been more ‘hands on,’ but unlike the claims that he was personally engaged in the raid that killed Bin Laden, he simply left the problem for others to figure out, and then left for a fundraising event while four Americans lay freshly murdered. He and the entire administration were completely disconnected from the life and death situation on the ground in Libya.

Those on the ground in Benghazi were left to fend for themselves when help of any kind would have been welcomed, and likely successful in preventing the later loss of lives.

No one launched to help those under fire. No one even tried.

As soon as then Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerK Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers Trump adviser expected to leave White House, join Juul The Hill's 12:30 Report: McGahn inflames Dem divisions on impeachment MORE directed the inception of the Select Committee on Benghazi, the minority party – not having read a single word nor seen the evidence uncovered - instantly denigrated the Select Committee and the report on Benghazi as nothing more than a partisan hit-job by Republicans in Congress.

The reality is that the Benghazi Select Committee has listened to countless hours of testimony from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, other senior government and military officials, mid-level bureaucrats, and those who were under fire on the night of the Benghazi attacks. And the years of research and intelligence gathering will all culminate in this final report.

The truth about what happened in Benghazi, as will be outlined in this final report, can hopefully help to prevent something similar from ever happening again. The potential costs of inaction are far too high for our men and women serving overseas.

During the many hours that the Benghazi attacks played out, our people on the ground in that Libyan city were abandoned by their leaders in Washington and elsewhere. All of those in the chain of command who could have done something to help, lacked the will to step up and do what was right, and further abandoned all forms of decency when they fabricated a story about a YouTube video to cover up their failure to act.

Political consequences be damned, when Americans’ lives are in jeopardy, politics should take a backseat to responsibility. But that’s not been the practice of the current administration, or of their presumptive nominee to lead the next administration, who places political expediency over lives of Americans at risk.

The American diplomats, the CIA officers, and the members of the military serving in dangerous assignments around the world are all paying close attention to the findings in the Select Committee’s final report. It will not correct the errors of the past, but hopefully it will provide solace to those sacrificing their lives for our freedom and hold those responsible for this tragedy accountable for their actions, or in this case, lack thereof.

D.W. Wilber is the OPSEC Vice President for Intelligence, and former CIA Officer serving under cover in Eastern and Western Europe during the Carter and Reagan Administrations. He has also served as an Intelligence Officer under contract with the Department of Homeland Security working closely with state and local law enforcement along the American Southwest Border, and has been in an independent security and intelligence consultant serving in Bosnia, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, and with elements of the US Special Operations Command. He is also a published writer and counterterrorism expert.