Benghazi was always all about character.
It was about how people act in a soul-testing situation and its aftermath. The men on the ground behaved with courage that makes us proud. But the key actors in Washington? Not so much.
Mollie Hemingway has read the Select Committee's Report on Benghazi, and she gives five big takeaways from the report that are not going to make you proud of our leaders. Here are Mollie's five takeaways:
1. Administration Misled Public Immediately and Continually
2. Weak Benghazi Security Points to Clinton’s Political Considerations
3. Military Never Sent Men or Machines to Help
4. Terrorists Weren’t Brought to Justice
5. Administration Obstructed Investigation
Since Hillary Clinton could well be our next president, the second takeaway is of particular interest. Why did Secretary Clinton make the decision not to pull out of a hot spot from which other countries had removed their diplomats?
Other countries and organizations fled, but the United States remained. The most plausible answer for why this was the case is troubling, House members say: “Secretary Clinton pushed for the U.S. to intervene in Libya, which at the time represented one of her signature achievements. To leave Benghazi would have been viewed as her failure and prompted unwelcome scrutiny of her choices.”
One of the tantalizing questions about Benghazi concerns what our current president was doing that night as the attack unfolded.
The Select Committee's Benghazi Report doesn't answer that question, but it does have some fascinating information germane to the president's handling of the crisis.
Steve Hayes of the Weekly Standard ferrets out this devastating piece of information: on the day after the attack the president skipped his security briefing (of course, he was busy because, after all, he had to fly to Vegas for a fund raiser).
Hayes further takes note of the the White House's strenuous efforts to keep the president's actions murky:
The disclosure [regarding the skipped briefing] also sheds some additional light on the president's engagement during and after the attacks—an area that has remained something of a black hole throughout previous Benghazi investigations.
The White House has provided little detail on Obama's activities throughout the Benghazi attacks and their aftermath, refusing to answer to questions from journalists about the president's whereabouts and actively working to keep information from investigators with the Select Committee.
During the interview with the president's briefer, a lawyer from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, who sat in on the session, twice ended exchanges between committee staff and the briefer.
So we still don't have information as to whether the president was in the situation room or getting some beauty sleep in preparation for the trip to Vegas.
What we do know is that we have little reason to be proud of those who were in control in Washington that night.