The truth about Benghazi
Ralph Peters is a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, author, novelist and Fox News analyst. Peters, 60, spoke to the Trib about the ongoing controversy and lingering questions regarding the Obama administration's handling of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya.
Q: President Obama is saying that he's offended over suggestions that his administration didn't do enough to protect the consulate. Should he be offended?
A: I think the four dead Americans should be offended, I think their parents should be offended and I think the American people should be offended, because, without being the least bit partisan, it is clear that there were multiple requests for more security from on the ground in Benghazi before the attack and they were turned down.
Q: Does it surprise you that the administration's investigation is taking so long?
A: Of course not. I mean, the administration's goal clearly is to stonewall through the election and the establishment media has largely helped. This is a huge story — from my perspective, a graver story than Watergate. Because as ugly as Watergate was, it was domestic. Nobody died.
I'm convinced the White House knew within hours this was an organized terrorist attack, but that destroyed and contradicted the election narrative that the president is tough on terror. So then they went with this video story (blaming the attack on an anti-Muslim video), and it's just like a husband who gets into trouble in Las Vegas telling that first lie to his wife. When you tell that first lie, it leads to other lies — especially if it's a dumb lie that's easily disproven.
Q: So you believe this is another instance where a cover-up is worse than an initial transgression?
A: Yes, exactly. If the Obama administration had said, “Gee, we blew it,” I think the American people would have been more forgiving than they ultimately are going to be of this when the truth comes out. Anyone who has served in our military, or who has studied terrorism in the least, or even studied mob dynamics at Penn State football games, can tell you this was not a spontaneous act.
Q: How does the truth come out?
A: The best way is to get (CIA) Director (David) Petraeus, Director (of National Intelligence James) Clapper, (National Security Agency) Director (Gen. Keith) Alexander to Capitol Hill under oath (in open hearings). You don't have to go into sources and methods, you don't have to get into top secret whack-a-whack-a stuff. You just ask them: “What did you know about the Benghazi attack and when did you know it? Did you know this was a terrorist attack (or) did you believe this was caused by the video?” But you have to get those people under oath.
Q: How likely do you think that is?
A: (It will happen) eventually, but they won't be able to get them (there) together before the election, which is unfortunate because (Congress) should have moved in that direction immediately.
Q: How do you think history will judge what has happened here?
A: I think future historians will look back on this as one of the great scandals of the presidency; (they will) at least put it with Watergate and ahead of the Teapot Dome scandal. This is lying to the American people about our security, lying to the American people about the actions and inactions of our president and then continuing to tell more lies to protect the (initial) lies.
Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media (412-320-7857 or firstname.lastname@example.org).