August 13, 2018
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Can you say Benghazi?

On Thursday, former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton attacked President Trump after Trump did not initially reject an offer from Vladimir Putin that Russia be allowed to “question officials, including the officers of law enforcement and intelligence service of the United States.”

When White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about whether Trump supported the idea, she responded, “The president’s going to meet with his team and we’ll let you know when we have an announcement on that.”

In response, Clinton tweeted an attack on Trump that reeked of hypocrisy:

Hillary Clinton

@HillaryClinton

Ambassador @McFaul is a patriot who has spent his career standing up for America. To see the White House even hesitate to defend a diplomat is deeply troubling.

John Harwood

@JohnJHarwood

WH press sec Sanders acknowledged that Putin talked to Trump about his interest in prosecuting financier Bill Browder and former US ambassador Michael McFaul. she declined to rule out US cooperation in that effort, saying Trump would consult his national security team

As is well known by now, Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State when the attack was launched in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. As Greg Hicks, former Deputy Chief of Mission for Libya, noted of the failure of the State Department four years later:

The Benghazi Committee’s report graphically illustrates the magnitude of her failure. It states that during August 2012, the State Department reduced the number of U.S. security personnel assigned to the Embassy in Tripoli from 34 (1.5 security officers per diplomat) to 6 (1 security officer per 4.5 diplomats), despite a rapidly deteriorating security situation in both Tripoli and Benghazi. Thus, according to the Report, “there were no surplus security agents” to travel to Benghazi with Amb. Stevens “without leaving the Embassy in Tripoli at severe risk.”

Had Ambassador Stevens’ July 2012 request for 13 additional American security personnel (either military or State Department) been approved rather than rejected by Clinton appointee Under Secretary of State for Management Pat Kennedy, they would have traveled to Benghazi with the ambassador, and the Sept. 11 attack might have been thwarted.

Even the State Department’s own Accountability Review Board report wrote:

The number of Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) security staff in Benghazi on the day of the attack and in the months and weeks leading up to it was inadequate, despite repeated requests from Special Mission Benghazi and Embassy Tripoli for additional staffing. Board members found a pervasive realization among personnel who served in Benghazi that the Special Mission was not a high priority for Washington when it came to security-related requests, especially those relating to staffing. The insufficient Special Mission security platform was at variance with the appropriate Overseas Security Policy Board (OSPB) standards with respect to perimeter and interior security. Benghazi was also severely under-resourced with regard to certain needed security equipment, although DS funded and installed in 2012 a number of physical security upgrades.”

 

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