Central View: Benghazi: What difference does it make?
February 19, 2013
When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked by a U.S. Senate panel about the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, she responded with a question of her own: “What difference does it make?”
If Hillary was referring to the outcome of the presidential election held 56 days after the Benghazi debacle, Hillary was correct. Full disclosure of the Obama administration’s bungling of Benghazi would not have changed the outcome of a presidential election which – we now know – was never in doubt due to: Incumbency (unseating an incumbent president rarely happens), Dependency (millions of voters depending on government paychecks), Mediaocracy (major media organs in support of the incumbent president), and Complacency (poor voter turn-out by conservatives who thought their votes were not needed.)
But to the American military – currently serving or retired – how the Obama administration responds to questions asked by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and even some Senate Democrats makes an enormous difference. Is it current administration policy to deny the pleas of embattled Americans for readily available military help or not? Attorney General Eric Holder will not appoint an Independent Counsel to investigate Benghazi. But what about Sherlock Holmes?
Holmes would know the attacks began at 3:42 p.m. Washington time and lasted for almost eight hours. Holmes would know dozens of military headquarters at Africa Command and European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, and hundreds of watch officers at Defense, State, and the White House were instantly alerted and that contingency forces were alerted and dispatched “toward” Libya. Holmes would know the president, the secretary of defense, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff met in the White House at 5 p.m., and that Benghazi was discussed. Subsequently, the president left the meeting.
As yet, for the official record, we do not know what orders, if any, were issued by the president. To answer that question, Sherlock Holmes would fall back on the incident of the-dog-that-did-not-bark:
“Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): ‘Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?’
Holmes: ‘To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.’
Gregory: ‘The dog did nothing in the night-time.’
Holmes: ‘That was the curious incident.'”
The curious Benghazi incident is that the one person, and the only person, who had the decision-making authority to do something to rescue the embattled Americans did nothing. That something is called: Cross Border Authority (CBA). Without CBA from the president, our military does not have the authority to cross an international border.
In the case of Osama bin Laden, the president granted CBA and immediately took credit. If CBA had been granted to rescue the Americans in Benghazi, the C-130 gunships, the over 100 Marines and Special Forces waiting just two hours away on the airfield at Sigonella, Sicily, would have crossed into Libya. They might have saved the lives of two former Navy SEALs who, before the SEALs were killed, led over 20 American diplomats to safety.
Holmes would question the general and the admiral who were relieved of their commands during the Benghazi attacks. Denied CBA, were they still mounting a rescue? But where are they? Where are the survivors? Obviously, Holmes has much more work to do.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.