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Benghazi: Running out the clock

| Monday, Dec. 24, 2012, 7:16 p.m.

The report of an independent panel inquiring into what happened in Benghazi, and why, blames the State Department bureaucracy, essentially for not having a clue about what was going on in Libya. A panel of diplomats would never say anything like that, but the message written between the lines is plain and clear.

The panel blames intelligence officers “i.e., the CIA” for relying too much on “specific warnings” of imminent attacks, waiting for the details of the enemy's game plan, and ignoring what should have been telegraphed from the seat of their pants. Everyone in Libya knew that the militias were all over the eastern part of the country, having already shot up a British diplomat's motorcade and set off a bomb outside the American mission in Benghazi. The evildoers were looking for evil to do. The Americans were the obvious targets.

The panel specifically blames the State Department's Diplomatic Security Bureau and the Near Eastern Affairs Bureau for failing to pay attention to what was going on around them: systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels with two bureaus (resulting in security) “that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place.”

Well, duh. Anyone reading the newspapers or watching television, despite the mainstream media's determination not to go after the story, knew that much. The panelists did not address the politics of the disaster or why President Obama and his administration have worked so hard to avoid talking about their bungling and ineptitude and subsequent attempt to cover it all up with self-righteous blather.

Forgotten is the obscure and infamous homemade video that nobody saw, mocking the prophet Mohammed. Mr. Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Susan Rice, the ambassador to the United Nations, all got on television as often as they could to blame the video for the attack on the consulate in Benghazi. Nobody in the administration wants to talk about those lies and evasions now.

The latest evasion is what happened to Mrs. Clinton's emphatic assertion that “I take responsibility.” She did not explain what she meant. But taking responsibility requires more than just saying she takes responsibility.

Mrs. Clinton, who no doubt has answers to more questions than anyone else — since she is paid to run the State Department — then disappeared. When she returned to redeem a promise to testify before Congress about how the Benghazi debacle happened, she fell ill with the belly bug, a common malady of diplomats suddenly on the spot. Then she fell and got up with a knot on her head. She says she can't wait to reschedule an appearance in January before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. But by then, with a little luck, we'll be talking about her successor, probably Sen. John Kerry, the famous Vietnam war hero, Francophile and keen windsurfer.

Delay and obfuscation have marked the Obama administration's reaction to the Benghazi debacle since the slain ambassador, Chris Stevens, first begged for the help that never arrived. Four Americans, including the ambassador, paid for the timidity and ineptitude with their lives.

The president and his minions were desperate to run out the clock in October, struggling to stumble across the goal line. Now Hillary is desperate to stall until her successor takes over. The public may never get the promised explanation. Until then, we're entitled to think the worst. We'll probably be right.

Wes Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.

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