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Roger L. Simon

Benghazi’s Back — Sort Of

December 18th, 2012 - 10:27 pm

Benghazi is back.

In a way.

The awaited special report by an independent review panel led by retired Ambassador Thomas Pickering and the former Joint Chiefs chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, has been delivered to Congress and offered few revelations, at least according to the Associated Press.

The report appeared to break little new ground about the timeline of the Benghazi attack during which Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens, information specialist Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods — who were contractors working for the CIA — were killed. Stevens’ slaying was the first of a U.S. ambassador since 1988.

But it confirmed that contrary to initial accounts, there was no protest outside the consulate and said responsibility for the incident rested entirely with the terrorists who attacked the mission.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, administration officials linked the attack to the spreading protests over an American-made, anti-Islamic film that had begun in Cairo earlier that day. Those comments came after evidence already pointed to a distinct militant attack. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on numerous TV talk shows the Sunday after the attack and used the administration talking points linking it to the film.

But we knew that, didn’t we?

The report apparently also excoriates State Department branches (the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the Bureau of Near East Affairs) for security lapses. Something else we knew — or at least assumed. Security at the Benghazi compound was obviously horrendous. It didn’t take a report — or a rocket scientist — to tell you that.

Further, according to the AP, the report exonerates the military. Quoting verbatim: “There was simply not enough time for armed U.S. military assets to have made a difference.”

How that was ascertained is unclear since the same report adds little to what we know of the timeline. But never mind. Perhaps that will be made clear when Pickering and Mullen testify before Congress on Wednesday. Or perhaps not.

The report also makes 29 recommendations for tightening up security in these dangerous foreign venues, which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, herself not able to testify because of a concussion, has nonetheless found time to accept. She thanked the review board for their work.

Okay, so now we know — hardly anything.

The elephant is still very much in the room. Who told Susan Rice to lie about these events and why did they do it? And why did the president lie about Benghazi subsequently to everyone from the United Nations General Assembly to David Letterman, assuming you think he told the truth about it at his initial press conference on the subject in the first place, which I certainly don’t?

Perhaps Candy Crowley will do some in-depth investigation and find this out for us. Well, we all know she won’t, but somebody should. Who that will be is also unclear, given the current state of investigative reporting in our country and the current intellectual and moral level of our Congress.

The administration also has on its side that the world — not to mention most of their media lackeys — wants to move on from this. Benghazi is yesterday’s scandal. Didn’t Obama win the election? We have the fiscal cliff to deal with. And gun control. And who knows what else? Maybe condoms. That’s never been resolved.

Admittedly, Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham have shown a certain amount of life on this issue. Will they have the energy and courage to continue? It’s hard to believe it with the pace of (often deliberate) distraction coming out of the Washington press corps and the White House. That the president lied about a major homicidal event in the War on Terror is no big deal. He didn’t fiddle with an intern, did he?

Someone out there must know some of the truth, some CIA whistle-blower who normally leaks to the New York Times or the Washington Post, but they’re not listening this time. Deep Throat, where are you?

More from Claudia Rosett: 

Benghazi in Brief

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