Hillary Clinton defended her past record as Secretary of State on Thursday before a contentious Congressional probe that lasted 11 hours and scrutinized her past handling of a deadly terrorist attack against 4 Americans serving in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012.
Clinton kept her cool throughout the controversial investigative hearing and provided little new information that convincingly proves that she is solely to blame for the series of events that killed 4 Americans serving in the volatile Benghazi region.
Republicans leading the charge against Clinton may have good intentions to push for honest answers but they are increasingly perceived as overly zealous and partisan with underlying motives to damage the credibility of Hillary Clinton who is seeking to shake off the baggage from the Benghazi terrorist attack and run for president.
The $4.7 million dollar 17 month inquiry by the House Select Committee on Benghazi is longer than Watergate in the 1970’s and stands for the worst type of political brinkmanship on Capitol Hill that turns off Americans that are already mistrustful of Washington D.C. politics.
Two recent polls show that a majority of Americans say that the Benghazi panel is politically motivated.
Although it is true that most Americans are dissatisfied with Clinton’s handling of the Benghazi attack, a larger majority believes that the Benghazi committee is using the investigation to gain political advantage.
A CNN/ORC international poll conducted on October 14-17th from 1,028 random Americans show that 59 percent of polled Americans are dissatisfied by the way that Hillary Clinton handled the Benghazi situation while serving as Secretary of State.
However, when asked if the House Select Committee on Benghazi is being used to gain political advantage, an overwhelming majority, 72 percent, believe this is the case.
Another October poll from NBC/WSJ that interviewed 1,000 Americans from October 15-18th revealed that 36 percent of polled Americans believe the Benghazi committee investigation is unfair and partisan compared with 29 percent who believe it was fair and impartial. Polled Americans who said they don’t know enough to respond were 35 percent.
Democrats and even some Republicans have criticized the way that Hilary Clinton has been singled out and targeted in the Benghazi investigation.
“This may not be politically correct, but I think there was a big part of this investigation that was designed to go after people, an individual: Hillary Clinton” said Republican Rep. Hanna during a recent interview with a Utica, New York radio station.
The chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi is being led by Republican Trey Gowdy (R-South Carolina), a former federal prosecutor, who is under pressure to conduct an objective investigation that doesn’t succumb to partisan motives at a pivotal time when Hillary Clinton’s political history and personal e-mail usage is still under the microscope during her presidential campaign.
During yesterday’s hearing, Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), a Democrat committee member, questioned the relevance of the Benghazi investigation and pointed out that the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee already conducted an extensive, bipartisan, two-year investigation followed by investigations from the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
“The problem is that the Republican caucus did not like the answers they got from those investigations, so they set up this select committee with no rules, no deadline, and an unlimited budget. And they set them loose, Madam Secretary, because you’re running for president” Cummings said.
“And one of the chairman’s own, hand-picked investigators, a self- proclaimed conservative Republican, charged that he was fired in part for not going along with these plans to, quote, ‘hyper-focus on Hillary Clinton,'” Cummings added.
Cummings said that since January, Republicans have canceled every single hearing on the committee’s schedule for the entire year except for the one focused on Secretary Clinton.
“They also canceled numerous interviews that they had planned with the Defense Department and the CIA officials” Cummings said.
Cummings emphasized that the new documents and interviews from this latest Benghazi committee probe do not show any nefarious activity.
“In fact, it’s just the opposite. The new information we obtained confirms and corroborates the core facts we already knew from eight previous investigations” he said.
Clinton acknowledged in her opening statement that she takes responsibility for what happened in Benghazi and explained later on that since 2001, there have been more than 100 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities around the world.
Clinton spoke about the need for America to not retreat or shrink from leading around the world- with some parameters in place.
“That doesn’t mean we should ever return to the go-it-alone foreign policy of the past, a foreign policy that puts boots on the ground as a first choice rather than a last resort. Quite the opposite. We need creative, confident leadership that harnesses all of America’s strengths and values, leadership that integrates and balances the tools of diplomacy, development and defense” Clinton said.
Clinton was asked why did the United States join with our NATO, European, our Arab partners to protect the people of Libya against the murderous planning of former Col. Gadhafi.
Clinton replied that Gadhafi threatened genocide and the U.S. was approached by their European allies to help out by intervening.
Clinton was questioned about providing security in Libya and said that the issues related to security were rightly handled by the security professionals in the department.
Clinton explained that she created a new position within the Diplomatic Security Bureau specifically to evaluate high- risk posts.
Clinton pointed out that Diplomatic Security professionals who were reviewing the security requests in Benghazi have great expertise and experience in keeping people safe and she was not going to “second guess them.”
Committee member Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) cited and then blasted a report in 2013 from the Republican chairman of five House committees who falsely accused Clinton of personally denying security requests over her signature.
“Well, when the Washington Post fact checker examined this claim, they gave it four Pinocchios. They called it a whopper. It turns out, that the Republicans had a copy of that cable, but didn’t tell the American people that your so-called signature was just a stamp that appeared on millions of cables from the State Department every single year” Cummings said.
Clinton said that was correct.
Later in her testimony, Clinton admitted there was no actionable intelligence on September 11th, or even before that date, about any kind of planned attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi.
“And there were a lot of debates, apparently, that went on within the security professionals about what to provide” Clinton said before admitting that U.S. State Department did not have enough money necessary to do what was required to protect everyone.
“So, of course, there had to be priorities. And that was something that the security professionals dealt with. I think that both Admiral Mullen And Ambassador Pickering made it very clear that they thought that the high threat post should move to a higher level of scrutiny. And we had immediately moved to do that” Clinton explained.
-John Schweitzer email@example.com