Ordered Liberty

Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi Dodge

Is Hillary Clinton a charlatan or just the crappiest lawyer in Washington? As the Obama Left likes to say, that’s a false choice. There’s no reason she can’t be both.

The question arises thanks to yet another excellent report on the Obama administration’s Benghazi fraud by the Weekly Standard’s Steve Hayes. The Benghazi fraud is a prominent subject of my new book, Faithless Execution, which traces the debacle from the president’s unauthorized, unprovoked, and ultimately disastrous instigation of a war against the Qaddafi regime; through his (and Secretary Clinton’s) recklessly irresponsible failure to provide security for the American officials they mysteriously stationed in Benghazi (a jihadist hotbed that is one of the world’s most dangerous places for Americans); through the president’s shocking failure to attempt to rescue Americans under siege on the night of September 11, 2012; and finally through Mr. Obama’s carefully orchestrated deception, in which the administration tried to hoodwink the country into blaming the murders of our ambassador and three other Americans on a video rather than on his calamitous policy of empowering Islamic supremacists.

Steve’s latest report homes in on Mrs. Clinton’s infamous “What difference, at this point, does it make” caterwaul, emitted during tense questioning by Senator Ron Johnson (R., WI) during a hearing on Benghazi.

Apparently, the former secretary of state struggles to rationalize this appalling testimony in her forthcoming memoir, Hard Choices. As notorious for taking no responsibility as for committing blunders over which accountability becomes an issue, Mrs. Clinton complains that her “What difference” yowl has been distorted. It was not, she insists, an exhibition of callous indifference; it was, in Steve’s description, “an attempt to redirect the questioning from its focus on the hours before the attacks to preventing similar attacks in the future.” Or, as Mrs. Clinton reportedly writes:

My point was simple: If someone breaks into your home and takes your family hostage, how much time are you going to spend focused on how the intruder spent his day as opposed to how best to rescue your loved ones and then prevent it from happening again?

As Steve quite rightly observes, this is nonsense. By the time of Mrs. Clinton’s testimony, the Benghazi Massacre—and, indeed, even the Obama administration’s fraudulent “The Video Did It” cover-up of the cause of the Benghazi Massacre—was several months old. We were long, long past the intruder-in-the-home phase. We were in the accountability phase—the phase of: let’s now establish what actually happened and why, so we can then figure out how to prevent a recurrence.

Any competent lawyer knows that during the investigative and trial stages that follow a public debacle—to say nothing of an act of war in which American officials were derelict in responding to a murderous terrorist attack—the obligation of the witnesses is not to redirect the questions. It is to answer the questions. Any competent trial judge would have sustained an objection to the secretary of state’s evasive answer, striking it from the record as non-responsive.

Mrs. Clinton is a crappy lawyer if she does not get that, since a first-year law student would. And she is a charlatan because the transparent two-step objective of her performance was, first, to dodge questions about her conduct and, then, to wail that the questions must cease because she has already answered them.

Would that the Senate had better cross-examiners. One suspects that former prosecutor Trey Gowdy, who will chair the House select committee on the Benghazi Massacre, would have known to ask the right follow-up question that eluded Senator Johnson. To wit, “Secretary Clinton, how many times did you practice that little speech in front of the mirror before you came here today?” Then, after the smoke pours out of her ears, you keep asking the accountability questions until you get real answers—or, as in Mrs. Clinton’s case, until it becomes painfully obvious that the witness has no satisfactory answers.

Did Secretary Clinton really believe her job was to steer the Senate’s questions rather than answer them? Did she seriously believe her appearance as a witness was the occasion for moving on to the matter of preventing a recurrence of—rather than establishing accountability for—the derelictions of duty that resulted in the killings of four Americans? If so, that is the easy part. Clearly, we should make certain that she is never again in a position of responsibility for the formulation of American foreign policy and for the protection of Americans serving our country in perilous places.