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Benghazi probe must not get sidetracked

| Friday, Dec. 7, 2012, 8:56 p.m.

It is neither “racist” nor “sexist” to question U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's role in the Benghazi scandal. It is, however, almost entirely beside the point.

Rice wasn't making life-and-death decisions on Sept. 11, 2012, when the U.S. compound in the Libyan city of Benghazi came under attack; President Obama was.

Nor is Rice likely to be the Obama administration official who first concocted the false narrative blaming a YouTube video for a nonexistent protest in Benghazi, which, the bogus narrative continues, “spontaneously” erupted into “unplanned” violence — the whopper President Obama told for two full weeks.

These are just some of the red flags over Benghazi that can never be checked if GOP Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire continue to monopolize the issue and focus solely on Rice and those not-all-that-interesting talking points. Here are some of the Benghazi questions that still demand answers:

Who came up with the administration plan to discard early intelligence confirming the U.S. had sustained an al-Qaida-linked terrorist attack in Benghazi on the anniversary of 9/11 and to seize on a lie blaming a YouTube video for the attack? Who got everyone — the White House, State, CIA (but not, it seems, Defense) — on board? After the president addressed the United Nations on Sept. 25 (citing the video six times), the video narrative peters out. Who called the whole thing off?

President Obama stated to an outside-the-Washington-Beltway reporter that “the minute” he found out what was happening in Benghazi, he sprang into action. “Number one,” the president said, “make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to do.”

Did Obama, in fact, issue such an order? If so, it appears to have been ignored. Shouldn't someone be fired for insubordination?

Why was the United States in Benghazi relying on Libyan jihadists for security? This is where we might pick up on the Arab Spring trail the Obama administration followed to this whole disaster.

For example, the small CIA contingent that flew in to Benghazi in the wee hours of Sept. 12 was “aided” (delayed) on arrival by Libya Shield. Not only did this militia fight in the Libyan revolution under the black flag of al-Qaida, but U.S. government analysts believe its leader, Wissam bin Hamid, a jihadist veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, may be the leader of al-Qaida in Libya.

Troubling reports indicate that the U.S. presence in Benghazi may have been part of a secret CIA operation to run weapons to Syria's anti-Assad rebel forces, which, as was the case with Libya's anti-Gadhafi forces, include a heavy contingent of jihadist actors seeking to spread Shariah (Islamic) law. Was the late Ambassador Christopher Stevens, previously point man to jihadists in Libya, party to this unauthorized operation?

Notice I haven't even mentioned Gen. Petraeus' affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. While not entirely unimportant, it is a distraction from weightier matters. For example: How can David Petraeus lie to Congress — a felony — and get away with it?

Ask President Obama.

Diana West is the author of “The Death of the Grown-up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization” and blogs at dianawest.net.

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