Oct. 22, 2015: Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of
State Hillary Rodham Clinton testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington
before the House Benghazi Committee. (AP)
I have long maintained that Democrats can spread
a lie better and faster than Republicans can tell the truth. The
Benghazi Select Committee Hearings proved my thesis.
A few salient points were made. For example, Rep.
Jim Jordan unearthed an email from Clinton to daughter Chelsea, penned
while the violence still raged, describing the attack as perpetrated by
an “Al-Qaeda-like group,” and a next day conversation with the
Egyptian Prime Minister admitting “We know the attack in Libya had
nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack, not a protest.”
All the while, Clinton was telling the world and the victims’ relatives
an anti Islamic video was to blame.
Unfortunately, crucial truths remain undisclosed
or so botched by the Committee it was worthless to raise them. I know
these truths because I have long represented former Tripoli DCM Greg
Hicks, whose May 2013 House testimony was quoted extensively throughout
the hearing. Three truths not revealed:
1. The number of
security personnel available to Ambassador Stevens dropped from 38 in
May 2012, when he was sworn in, to 9, when he went to Benghazi.
It is a very simple
concept, a loss of 29 security personnel during a time when there were
hundreds of requests to Clinton’s State Department for increased
security. Hicks published an Op-Ed for the Wall Street Journal in 2014
describing the bases and process for this reduction. Yet, not one
Member asked her for that information.
2. By law, Clinton was required to
waive the security in Benghazi and could not delegate that decision.
Repeatedly, the Committee allowed Clinton to claim she had nothing to do
with security in Libya. Such requests “were rightly handled by the
security professionals…. I did not see them. I did not approve
them. I did not deny them.” However, the Secure Embassy
Construction and Counterterrorism Act of 1999, SECCA, passed in the wake
of the 1998 Embassy twin bombings in Africa when Bill Clinton was
president, required her to rule on the substandard security in Benghazi.
As with Benghazi, an Accountability Review Board (ARB) for each African
bombing was convened. The ARBs faulted the State Department for no
accountability for the security in Kenya and Tanzania, and made specific
recommendations for future Secretaries of State. But Congress went
further. SECCA requires the Secretary to waive any situation where
all the embassy buildings are not housed in one facility, as was the
case with Benghazi, and states that the decision cannot be
For a long time, the Committee seemed to be aware only of the ARB
language, quoting it extensively while ignoring the statutory mandate.
Finally, during the dinner hour, Rep. Susan Brooks broached the issue
but clearly did not understand the law. When Sec. Clinton demurred
she did not sign a waiver because the Benghazi consulate was
“temporary,” Brooks abandoned the subject. But Brooks’ acquiescence
missed the point of the law. It was intended to cover such
The Benghazi ARB admitted in its 2013 report that there had been a
waiver, describing the Benghazi compound as being “excepted” under the
law. Was no one on the Committee aware of that fact? An obvious
follow up question: “But Ms. Clinton, who did the ARB refer to when
saying Benghazi had been excepted?” And then: “If you did not sign the
waiver, who did?” But the Committee let her escape an admission of
violating the law by falsely claiming it did not cover a temporary
3. Ambassador Stevens was in Benghazi
in September 2012 because Clinton requested him to recommend a permanent
status for Benghazi.
On the day she swore Stevens in as Ambassador, Clinton requested him to
go to Benghazi to determine whether it could be a permanent post.
The report had to be written before the end of the fiscal year,
September 30, because funds had to be requested. Moreover, Clinton
was planning a trip to exploit that decision later in 2012. The
ARB tried to conceal Clinton’s role, falsely claiming that Stevens went
there “independently” of Washington, when it had been told the truth by
Throughout the hearing, Clinton’s attitude about Stevens was that he
went of his own accord “He did not need permission to travel.” Yet, her
request was the reason for his trip and its timing.
Victoria Toensing is a former Chief Counsel for the Senate Select
Committee on Intelligence and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General,
U.S. Department of Justice, where among other assignments she created
the anti-terrorism section. She is a founding partner of diGenova &