Four months after Benghazi, questions remain unanswered
By Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.)
This past Wednesday, Secretary Hillary Clinton appeared, for what is likely her final time as Secretary of State, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee regarding the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Although I am grateful for Secretary Clinton’s testimony and her service to our nation, the American people still have many questions and countless security concerns that remain unanswered.
Our nation has yet to hear what actually motivated and caused this horrific terrorist attack, which resulted in the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three dedicated service personnel. The weekend following the violence, United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on television networks across the nation and misled the American people by not providing an accurate explanation. Ambassador Rice claimed that a video created by an unstable individual incited the violence. We have since learned terrorist elements were visible in Northern Africa months before the attack. During Wednesday’s hearing, I asked Secretary Clinton why she declined to be interviewed on Sunday news programs, and instead allowed Secretary Rice to address the nation. Her answer: “Going on Sunday shows is not my favorite things to do.” Her response was surprising and flippant. As our leader at the Department of State, conveying factual information about these heinous murders should be a top priority, especially when millions around the world are watching.
Our military is the most capable and efficient in the world. Yet, our nation still wonders why our Armed Forces were not present to defend our Consulate immediately, or at any time during the seven-hour period insurgents were firing upon our Mission and killing our personnel. Within weeks of the massacre, several emails from Ambassador Stevens surfaced with pleas for increased security prior to the attack. Unfortunately, these requests were never seen by Secretary Clinton and were denied by lower level officials within the State Department. Wednesday afternoon, the secretary blamed a lack of funding as one of the reasons why the Benghazi consulate did not have adequate security. However, this claim is disingenuous because Congress had not received a request from the State Department asking for additional security funds. Last October, Charlene Lamb, a deputy assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, acknowledged in a hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that there has never been a lack of budget consideration that led the State Department to request security in Benghazi. This statement supports the position that insufficient funds were not the cause of insufficient security in Benghazi.
So if a lack of funding or an absurd video cannot serve as the root cause for the attack, what can? The answer is very clear: The president’s foreign policy is failing and threatening our national security.
If we continue to operate under the Obama Diplomacy Model, which seems to be “Walk Softly, Carry No Stick,” we will continue to see the same devastating results. September’s attack mark the first time a United States Ambassador has been assassinated since 1979. Most recently, an al-Qaeda linked attack at a gas plant in Algeria led to the death of over 30 employees, including three Americans. Recent reports have indicated that the same radicals responsible for the Benghazi attack participated in the Algerian violence as well. It is very clear that the lack of a coherent and effective foreign policy has contributed to instability and extremism within the Middle East and Northern Africa, which directly threatens the Unites States and our citizens. Yet, the President repeatedly claims al-Qaeda’s capabilities and organization are shrinking around the globe. Based on the past few months and the growing concern that terrorism is on the rise, his assertion is not accurate and the American people are at increased rick of attack at home and abroad.
The most important task at hand in regards to our nation’s foreign policy is to find out exactly what went wrong in Benghazi and assure the American people that this type of massacre will not happen again. The current administration has the blood of our fallen heroes on its hands. Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods deserve to have the truth revealed and our security measures reformed in order to prevent future attacks. America must responsibly exert our strength and gain respect from the rest of the world. Our nation is the world’s shining example of freedom and democracy. It is time we stand tall, defend those who attempt to follow the principles we set, and take an active stance against those who seek to subvert the values we hold dear though violence and intimidation.
Wilson is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.