“There have been seven investigations led mostly by Republicans in the Congress. And they were nonpartisan, and they reached conclusions that, first of all, I and nobody did anything wrong....” Hillary Clinton, Oct. 5, 2015
Republicans have spent millions of taxpayer dollars and hundreds of hours trying to prove Hillary Clinton was responsible for the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya. They claim it’s her fault that four Americans are dead. How many of these claims are true? Here is a little True-False quiz to test your knowledge of some of the facts around this tragedy.
T/F: The American Embassy in Libya is located in Benghazi.
False. This is one of the biggest misconceptions about this whole episode. The American Embassy is in Tripoli, the capital of Libya, and is 404 miles west of Benghazi. The Benghazi compound consisted of a CIA annex and a State Department special diplomatic mission facility. The compound was essentially a CIA operation. Most of the more than 30 officials there worked for the CIA; only seven worked for the State Department. There was no official American consulate in Benghazi.
T/F: There was no reason to suspect that an anti-Mohammed video was the cause of the attack on the Benghazi compound.
False. On the same night the Benghazi compound was attacked, riots and protests were breaking out all over the world in response to the anti-Mohammed video, “Innocence of Muslims.” Protests over the video erupted in Cairo, Egypt, before the attack at Benghazi. Riots occurred on six continents, in over 60 countries, and at several American embassies. As a result of these attacks, over 50 people were killed and 690 people injured. Believing the Benghazi attack was a reaction to the video was not unwarranted.
T/F: The occupants at the Benghazi compound were abandoned by Hillary Clinton. A “stand down” order was given to would-be rescuers while Clinton watched the attack on a live feed.
False. Over 30 Americans were evacuated from the compound. In spite of what movies and books have said, no stand-down order was ever given, according to the Republican report from the House Select Committee on Benghazi, released on June 28. A State Department employee testified in October 2012 that she had followed the attack though telephone calls. There was no “real-time” live feed of the attack.
Of the four who died in the attack, Ambassador Chris Stevens and IT expert Sean Smith died of smoke inhalation. Libyans moved Stevens to a hospital in an attempt to save him. Security contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, former Navy SEALs, were killed after helping to evacuate other personnel.
T/F: Hillary Clinton was unaccounted for that night.
False. Clinton was in close contact with military officials, administration officials, the National Security advisor, the Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya, and President Obama throughout the attack. She was not in bed asleep.
T/F: The Benghazi attack was the worst attack of this type ever.
False. Under President George W. Bush, there were 13 attacks on American embassies and consulates, with over 60 deaths. Under President Ronald Reagan, American embassies were attacked in Beirut and Awkar, Lebanon, and in Kuwait. Over 80 people were killed.
T/F: Hillary Clinton was never found guilty of any dereliction of duty regarding Benghazi.
True. There were 32 Congressional hearings, eight of them public, six of those led by Republicans. Republicans tried to fault Clinton for lack of security and other issues, but there was no evidence of any wrong-doing. It was never shown that different orders or actions would have saved the lives of the four who died at Benghazi.
The 9/11 attacks happened under President George W. Bush. Over 3,000 people died in three separate attacks that day. There were 12 public hearings over a span of ten months to find out what happened. Bush and VP Dick Cheney testified in private, not under oath, with no transcript kept of their testimony. Plenty of fault was found, but Republicans ultimately gave Bush a free pass.
There have been 32 Congressional hearings on Benghazi over four years. Hillary Clinton has been publicly questioned for hours at a time, under oath. Any loss of life, from a terrorist attack or otherwise, is a tragedy, but after all these hearings, nothing actionable has been discovered
As a country, we should be working to find ways to prevent future attacks, including increasing the budget for diplomatic security. Using the deaths of four Americans as a political weapon is despicable.
Jeanette Strong, whose column appears every other week, is a Nevada Press Association award-winning columnist. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.