Saying that her main regret during her years as secretary of State is the terror attack on the Benghazi diplomatic annex in Libya and the deaths of four Americans, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBudowsky: Why GOP donors flock to Manchin and Sinema Countering the ongoing Republican delusion Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE continues her cover-up.
Even as she expresses her regrets, she pretends that the reason she did not act to beef up security at the compound, and that she lied afterward, blaming the attack on an Internet video, was “imperfect” intelligence information.
In fact, as the records released by the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee make clear, she had all the relevant facts before her — and just ignored them.
Here’s the text of Clinton’s remarks in her recent interview: “Oh, sure. I mean, you know, you make these choices based on imperfect information. And you make them to — as we say, the best of your ability. But that doesn’t mean that there’s not going to be unforeseen consequences, unpredictable twists and turns. ... You know, my biggest, you know, regret is what happened in Benghazi.”
“Unforeseen consequences” and “unpredictable twists and turns” had nothing to do with her failure to secure the compound or to send adequate security to protect it. Rather, she got every sort of warning from her own ambassador, the State Department, the CIA and the Defense Department. She just failed to act on them.
When you read the various pieces and bits of information she received in the weeks and months prior to the attack, it is hard to see how they could have been any more blunt or explicit in warning of the likelihood of future terror attacks in Benghazi.
According to the Senate Intelligence Committee, on June 12, 2012, the Defense Intelligence Agency released a report titled “Libya: Terrorists Now Targeting U.S. and Western Interests,” citing “growing ties between al-Qaeda regional nodes and Libya-based terrorists.”
Does that sound like “imperfect intelligence?”
The intelligence Clinton received spelled out the problem precisely and accurately. Indeed, the DIA report was prescient in its warning: “We expect more anti-U.S. terrorist attacks in eastern Libya [redacted], due to the terrorists’ greater presence there.”
These terror attacks were not “unforeseen consequences” or “unpredictable twists and turns.” They were both predicted and foreseen in numerous intelligence documents that the Senate Intelligence Committee has unearthed and made public.
The cascade of evidence continued when the Pentagon’s Joint Staff daily intelligence report predicted that terror attacks “will also increase in number and lethality as terrorists connect with [al Qaeda] associates in Libya.” Indeed, the report predicted that Eastern Libya would become a terror “safe haven” by year’s end.
A month before the attack, Ambassador Chris Stevens sent a cable to State Department headquarters in Washington, D.C., noting that there were “approximately ten Islamist militias and AQ training camps within Benghazi” and asking for more security.”
For Clinton now to say that she did the best she could on the basis of “imperfect information” and to blame the tragic outcome on “unforeseen consequences and unpredictable twists and turns” is such an act of distortion of the record that it takes one’s breath away.
But this is Clinton at her most typical — she takes an accusation and, while seeming to take responsibility and express her regret, she in fact tries to deflect it, in this case by blaming the quality of the intelligence she received.
Also unanswered, of course, is how the secretary and President Obama managed to glean from the intelligence that the attack was a movie protest gone awry. None of the intelligence released thus far substantiates this account of the cause of the attack. Yet, despite all indications to the contrary, the ex-secretary of State continued to maintain for two weeks that this was not a pre-planned attack on the anniversary of 9/11 but an overly vigorous reaction to the online film.
The plain fact is that this possible future president failed miserably in her first major administrative assignment: running the embassies and consulates under her jurisdiction as secretary.
Morris, who served as adviser to former Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and former President Clinton, is the author of 16 books, including his latest, Screwed and Here Come the Black Helicopters. To get all of his and Eileen McGann’s columns for free by email, go to dickmorris.com.