Hillary’s Real Benghazi Problem

Yesterday the State Department released a handful of Hillary Clinton’s emails relating to Benghazi. They have been selected at least twice for release to the public, once by Hillary’s minions and once by the Department, so no one expected any bombshells. Nevertheless, I find them surprisingly interesting. This post addresses what I think is the most important point. I will cover a few smaller matters in a future post. This batch of emails, in their entirety, are at the bottom of this post, so you can read them for yourself.

In my opinion, Hillary’s biggest problem isn’t Benghazi per se, it is the broader issue of Libya. Why were Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans murdered? Because by September 2012, Libya was a terrorist playground. Since then, things have only gotten worse. Libya has become a failed state, a 21st century source of boat people, as refugees from ubiquitous violence stream across the Mediterranean. Libya is now a haven for ISIS and other terrorist groups; it was on the Libyan coast that ISIS beheaded 30 Christians. Some of the “refugees” now making their way into Europe are, in fact, ISIS agents. In short, Libya is a disaster.

Whose disaster? Hillary Clinton’s. It was Hillary who, more than anyone else, pushed to overthrow Moammar Qaddafi. Why? No compelling reason. Qaddafi had been tame ever since the Iraq war, which he interpreted as a threat to his rule. Almost incredibly, Clinton and her cohorts in NATO overthrew Qaddafi (who was subsequently murdered by a mob) without having a plan for what would come next.

Who says Hillary Clinton is responsible for the Libya fiasco? She does. In fact, at one point she was poised to claim Libya as the notable accomplishment of her term as Secretary of State. In August 2011, Jake Sullivan, Hillary’s deputy chief of staff, wrote an email in which he summarized “Secretary Clinton’s leadership on Libya.” He sent to it henchwoman Cheryl Mills and State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, who passed it on to Hillary. Sullivan’s email begins:

this is basically off the top of my head, with a few consultations of my notes. but it shows S’ [Secretary Clinton’s] leadership/ownership/stewardship of this country’s libya policy from start to finish. let me know what you think.

The email continues, with bold print in the original:

Secretary Clinton’s leadership on Libya

HRC has been a critical voice on Libya in administration deliberations, at NATO, and in contact group meetings–as well as the public face of the U.S. effort in Libya. She was instrumental in securing the authorization, building the coalition, and tightening the noose around Qadhafi and his regime.

Sullivan goes on to itemize, day by day, how Clinton drove the Libya policy not just in the U.S., but in NATO as well. This is a screen shot of the first page of the email; it goes on and on thereafter, showing how Hillary “owned” and was “the public face of,” our Libya policy, “from start to finish.” Click to enlarge:

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 11.32.04 AM

Hillary’s problem is not primarily the murder of four Americans in Benghazi, outrageous as those murders were. Rather, her real problem is that she bears primary responsibility for a policy that was not just a failure, but a disaster. Further, it was a policy that, as you can see from Sullivan’s email, she intended to be a crown jewel of her years as Secretary of State and, no doubt, a chief credential in her run for the presidency. Instead, it blew up in her face–worse, in ours–like an exploding cigar.

The Benghazi murders are of course important. But it is critical to recognize that they resulted not just from a lack of adequate security or other misjudgments that may have been made at the time. Rather, the fact that terrorists were largely in control of Benghazi by September 2012 was the direct result of Hillary’s bad judgment in leading the overthrow of Qaddafi while having no plan for what would come after, and no ability to influence events on the ground. It is that poor judgment that disqualifies her as a candidate for the presidency.

266273670 Hillary Clinton s Libya Emails