Benghazi: The new Watergate?
May 9, 2013
"Benghazi," like "Watergate," is one of those words which will likely enter the political lexicon as "shorthand," standing for a series of "high crimes and misdemeanors" committed by our nation's most senior elected and appointed officials.
In the case of President Richard Nixon, who resigned rather than be Impeached by the U.S. House of Representative and Convicted by the U.S. Senate, it was a matter of overzealous political operatives — either without or with the fore-knowledge of Richard Nixon — who broke into the Watergate headquarters of the National Democratic Party, stole some address lists, and planted some electronic listening devices. No one was killed or injured.
Since any fore-knowledge by Nixon was never established, the Watergate burglary might well have passed into history as just another political dirty trick with only the burglars being indicted. But that is not what happened. Nixon tried to use the organs of his Executive Branch to "cover-up" the Watergate Affair. It was the "cover-up" that forced Nixon to resign in disgrace.
Benghazi, however, presents a fact situation far worse than Watergate. First of all, four Americans were killed in Benghazi and scores were wounded. Secondly, Benghazi was a well-coordinated and well-armed attack by al-Qaeda-led forces on the United States Mission in Libya which was supposedly under the protection of International Law.
But it is the third fact about Benghazi that makes Benghazi a far more serious event that Watergate: Despite the fact that powerful military forces were readily available to have protected American lives and property in Benghazi, those forces were never allowed to proceed to Benghazi to rescue the embattled Americans. They were never given the necessary Cross-border Authority (CBA) to enter Libya. And so it was that four Americans, to include a U.S. Ambassador, an aide, and two former U.S. Navy SEALs were left to die on the field of battle.
Maybe not a big deal for the 99-percent of Americans who have never served in our military; however, Benghazi is a huge deal to the one-percent who are serving today and to millions of American veterans. On April 8, 2013, over 700 retired special operations officers and senior noncommissioned officers (Special Forces, SEALs, Air Commandos, Marine Force Recon, and Army Rangers) wrote to Congress, asking for the adoption of House Resolution 36 which would establish a House Select Committee to investigate the Benghazi attack. The 700 signatories include 21 flag officers. Thus far, H. Res. 36 has 129 congressional co-sponsors.
A House Select Committee has the power of the subpoena and the ability to confer the protection of the "whistle-blower" statutes on those willing to come forward and provide their knowledge of the tragic events of September 11, 2012.
Yes, some of the Legislative Branch "oversight" committees continue to raise Benghazi questions; however, those committees are such that the Executive Branch can often get away with: "I don't know. Or, I'll have to get back to you on that question." But bureaucratic shell games won't work with a House Select Committee where it is "tell the truth or face dire consequences."
Justice demands truthful answers about Benghazi from the former heads of the State Department, the Department of Defense, the CIA, and yes, from the Commander-in-Chief.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.