The White House and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have long tried to quell the controversy around the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on an American consulate in Benghazi that claimed the lives of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. New revelations show that the issue is far from dead.
Earlier this week, the conservative activist group Judicial Watch obtained emails that show the White House tried to link the attacks to fictional protests instead of calling it an al-Qaeda linked attack. In one email, White House official Ben Rhodes urged then U.N. ambassador Susan Rice and White House spokesman Jay Carney "to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy." He urged them to attribute the violence on protests over an American-made video that criticized Islam.
Rice and Clinton then told the nation the attack occurred because of the non-existent protest over the video. President Obama did not call the attack terrorism the next day when he spoke to the country with Hillary Clinton by his side, but he did condem "acts of terror" in general, referring to Benghazi. Adding to the controversy are statements made by Retired Air Force Brigadier General Robert Lovell, an officer who served at DOD’s Africa command in Germany at the time of the attack.
Earlier today, he testified that while the nature of the attack was not clear at the time, "what we did know early on was that this was a hostile action…This was no demonstration gone terribly awry.”
“As the attack was ongoing, it was unclear whether it was an attempted kidnapping, rescue, recovery, protracted hostile engagement or any or all of the above," he said. Lovell added that he didn’t question DOD’s claim that it did not have enough time to get troops to the region to save American lives.
Lovell’s testimony adds fuel to a fire that has been raging in the GOP for more than two years. Republicans have long charged that the Obama administration tried to paint the incident as a spontaneous raid instead of a coordinated terror attack because the president did not want to look weak on terrorism before the 2012 presidential election. The GOP is also likely to use the new intel against Hillary Clinton, who angrily defended the White House on Capitol Hill, if she decides to run for president in 2016.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a longtime critic of the White House in general and Clinton specifically, said that the emails released earlier this week amount to a “smoking gun” that show the White House tried to "shape the story" after the attack.
“Our Democratic friends, for the most part, have been in the tank over Benghazi,” the senator said on a radio show this morning. “The scumbags are the people in the White House who lied about this.”
Unfortunately for Republicans, polls show that the Benghazi issue is one the pubic care little about. But with Clinton as the front-runner for the Democratic nod in 2016, Republicans are going to do all they can to change that.
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