Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton listens while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, before the House Benghazi Committee. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's testimony yesterday before the congressional committee formed to investigate the deadly Benghazi debacle that she allowed to happen and then tried to cover up can be summed up in two words: she lied.
Boiled down: Despite mountains of email evidence to the contrary, Clinton denied that she previously blamed the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack that took four American lives on an at-the-time unwatched anti-Islam YouTube video. She denied that left-wing slime merchant and Clinton groupie Sidney Blumenthal was her advisor. She even denied having a computer on her desk at the State Department. (The Washington Post has what appears to be a largely accurate complete transcript of the hearing.)
Hillary wants Americans to believe that her official government emails, sometimes containing top-secret classified information, that she sent around the globe through the insecure, hacker-friendly private email server created to facilitate anticipatory bribes for the would-be U.S. president funneled through the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, don't say what your lying eyes tell you they say.
Republicans made the case yesterday that foreign policy neophyte Sidney Blumenthal, a Clinton crony with business interests in Libya, had easy access to Clinton while her own ambassador struggled heroically to reach her. The many requests from Ambassador Chris Stevens for extra security measures fell upon deaf ears.
Hillary effectively blamed Stevens for getting himself killed, saying he was supposed to take care of his own security. “We were really counting on Chris to guide us and give us information on the ground,” Clinton said when questioned methodically by Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.).
Clinton denied Blumenthal was an advisor of hers even though he regularly barraged her with emails and their relationship goes back decades. "He was not advising me, and I have no reason to have ever mentioned that or know that the president knew that."
It's still a complete and utter mystery to Clinton why American facilities were targeted in Benghazi, Libya. Really. She said that.
"None of us can speak to the individual motivations of those terrorists who overran our compound and who attacked our CIA annex," she told the Benghazi Select Committee on Thursday. "There were probably a number of different motivations." So it's a little bit of this, and a little bit of that.
None of this comes as a surprise to Clinton watchers.
New York Times columnist William Safire famously dubbed her "a congenital liar," and that very same left-wing newspaper now admits that “Hillary Rodham Clinton’s explanations about her use of a personal email account as secretary of state have evolved over time.” Evolved? That's one way of putting it.
With the acquiescence -- and at times, complicity -- of a perennially incurious media, Hillary's verbal jousting skills have saved her many times over her decades of political wheeling and dealing. Now that Clinton is campaigning to succeed President Obama, she was much more polished and composed this week than during her previous, now-infamous congressional testimony on the Benghazi saga. That was in 2013 she when she donned Coke bottle eyeglasses chosen perhaps to elicit sympathy related to her reportedly significant health problems.
Her attitude on that day two years ago could be distilled to one word: whatever.
"Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night and decided they’d go kill some Americans," she shouted. "What difference – at this point, what difference does it make?"
During the televised proceedings yesterday, Clinton, one of America’s most accomplished sociopaths, alternated largely between looking thoughtful or bored. Her pulse probably never got above 85, even at the height of the richly deserved tongue-lashing she received from Republican lawmakers. Like another famous sociopath whose surname she shares, Hillary simply adores arguing and lawyering.
She lives for it and has at least since she was fired from the House Judiciary Committee during its investigation of the Watergate scandal that eventually brought down President Richard M. Nixon in 1974. Hillary’s then-supervisor, lifelong Democrat Jerry Zeifman, said he canned the 27-year-old attorney “because she was a liar … an unethical, dishonest lawyer. She conspired to violate the Constitution, the rules of the House, the rules of the committee and the rules of confidentiality.”
No lie is too big or too small for Hillary, whether it’s a concocted tale of being under enemy fire at an airport in Bosnia, the existence of a “vast right-wing conspiracy” to undermine her husband’s presidency, that she was named after Mt. Everest climber Sir Edmund Hillary even though he rocketed to fame by accomplishing the feat when she was a six-year-old, or that the Clintons were “dead broke” when they exited the White House.
Meanwhile, at the Thursday hearing, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) demolished Clinton's apparently fresh assertion at the hearing that she didn't actually claim an obscure anti-Islam movie trailer posted on YouTube prompted the terrorist assault in Benghazi on the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. She now takes a more nuanced, twisted-like-a-pretzel position in which maybe some non-terrorist Muslims were suddenly stirred to violence in Libya by the video, but really at the same time it was a terrorist attack, something she testified Thursday has been her position the whole time. She talked about the video publicly not to point fingers but as a warning, she testified, to those who might attack U.S. interests in the region. In other words, like a good defense lawyer, Hillary was trying to confuse the issues and muddy the waters.
Clinton, who seems able to function just fine with what must be chronic cognitive dissonance, said minutes before Jordan's question:
I referred to the video that night in a very specific way. I said some have sought to justify the attack because of the video. I used those words deliberately, not to ascribe a motive to every attacker but as a warning to those across the region that there was no justification for further attacks.
Jordan fired back:
We want to know the truth. The statement you sent out was a statement on Benghazi and you say vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material on the Internet. If that's not pointing as the motive of being a video, I don't know what is. And that's certainly what -- and that's certainly how the American people saw it.
While she was informing the American public that the anti-Islam video was what caused the attack, at the same time she emailed her daughter Chelsea and the governments of Libya and Egypt to pin the blame on Muslim militants, Jordan explained. Around the same time the White House, in the closing weeks of a heated presidential election campaign, was pushing the line that what transpired in Benghazi was a spontaneous demonstration turned violent, but terrorism was not a factor.
"We know that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film," Clinton wrote Egypt's prime minister the night of the attack. "It was a planned attack, not a protest." But in public Clinton continued to blame the "offensive" video. The U.S. government acquired $80,000 worth of commercial airtime in Pakistan to apologize for the YouTube clip.
Jordan pointed out that there was no video-inspired protest over in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, but there was one in Cairo, Egypt. The same day State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said "Benghazi has been attacked by militants. In Cairo, police have removed demonstrators."
So, in "Benghazi, you got weapons and explosions," he said. In "Cairo, you got spray paint and rocks." The congressman continued:
One hour before the attack in Benghazi, Chris Stevens walks a diplomat to the front gate. The ambassador didn't report a demonstration. He didn't report it because it never happened. An eyewitness in the command center that night on the ground said no protest, no demonstration; two intelligence reports that day, no protest, no demonstration.
The Benghazi attack, Jordan said, began at 3:42 p.m. Eastern time and ended around 11:40 p.m. that evening. He continued:
At 4:06, an ops alert goes out across the State Department. It says this, "Mission under attack, armed men, shots fired, explosions heard." No mention of video, no mention of a protest, no mention of a demonstration. But the best evidence is Greg Hicks, the number two guy in Libya, the guy who worked side by side with Ambassador Stevens. He was asked, if there had been a protest, would the ambassador have reported it? Mr. Hicks's response, "Absolutely." For there to have been a demonstration on Chris Stevens' front door and him not to have reported it is unbelievable ... and if it had been reported, he would have been out the back door within minutes and there was a back gate.
"Everything," Jordan said, "points to a terrorist attack ... and yet five days later Susan Rice goes on five TV shows and she says this, 'Benghazi was a spontaneous reaction as a consequence of a video,' a statement we all know is false." Rice was "off the reservation," according to State Department experts in the agency's Near Eastern Affairs bureau.
"So if there's no evidence for a video-inspired protest, then where did the false narrative start? It started with you, Madam Secretary," he said. At 10:08 p.m. while the attack was still in progress, Clinton released a statement insinuating that a video inspired the assault. "Some have sought to justify the vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet," it read.
Benghazi Select Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) tried to drive home the point that interest in the Benghazi saga has long been a bipartisan affair in the U.S. Congress. “The House of Representatives, including some Democrats I hasten to add, asked this committee to write the final accounting of what happened in Benghazi.”
But previous congressional investigations, he added, were a joke.
Gowdy stressed that his committee is the “first committee” to go through more than 50,000 pages of documents, “to thoroughly and individually interview scores of other witnesses, many of them for the first time,” “to demand access to relevant documents from the CIA, the FBI, the Department Of Defense and even the White House,” and “to demand access to the emails to and from Ambassador Chris Stevens.”
He added, “How could an investigation possibly be considered serious without reviewing the emails of the person most knowledgeable about Libya?”
The committee was the “first” and “only” panel “to uncover the fact that Secretary Clinton exclusively used personal email on her own personal server for official business and kept the public record, including e-mails about Benghazi and Libya, in her own custody and control for almost two years after she left office.”
Gowdy impugned the motives of the Accountability Review Board that began studying the Benghazi debaclesoon after it happened, noting that Clinton name-dropped the panel an astonishing 70 times in previous congressional testimony. That sham investigation was headed by former Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering, a useful idiot for Islam who is spending his twilight years crusading against the so-called Islamophobia that infects the ignorant bigots and rubes across the fruited plain who irrationally fear the benign Muslim religion.
Noting that the members of the ARB were “hand-picked” by State Department leadership, Gowdy said:
The ARB never interviewed Secretary Clinton. The ARB never reviewed her emails. And Secretary Clinton's top adviser was allowed to review and suggest changes to the ARB before the public ever saw it. There's no transcript of ARB interviews. So, it's impossible to know whether all relevant questions were asked and answered. Because there's no transcript, it is also impossible to cite the ARB interviews with any particularity at all.
The ARB’s work is “not independent” and not an example of accountability, he said. It is “not a serious investigation.” And if “previous congressional investigations were really serious and thorough, how did they miss Ambassador Stevens' emails?” and “why did they fail to interview dozens of key State Department witnesses, including agents on the ground who experienced the attacks firsthand?”
On the eve of the Thursday hearing, Democratic members of the Select Committee released a so-called full transcript from an official interview with Cheryl Mills, who served as counselor and Chief of Staff to Clinton at the Department of State. Democrats claimed they acted at "to correct the public record after numerous out-of-context and misleading Republican leaks.” Democrats must have calculated that the testimony of a longtime Clinton crony would somehow have an exculpatory effect from which her presidential campaign would benefit.
But not all of the Democratic Party's press release writers -- outside the mainstream media, that is -- are gifted, antisocial, Alinskyite liars of Hillary's caliber. Clinton usually can at least keep the lies more or less straight in her head, and like her husband, treats parsing as bloodsport, while engaging in at times brutally effective misdirection and superficially plausible semantic contortions.
The press release accompanying the 307-page document boasts that it is a “full transcript of the Select Committee’s interview with former State Department Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills,” but is it really? It contradicts itself a few sentences later, describing the document as mere “excerpts of Ranking Member Cummings questioning Ms. Mills[.]” This wording suggests that only one lawmaker – a grandstanding, media-savvy, hyper-partisan Democrat on a Republican-controlled panel – questioned Mills at the hearing. It is very hard to believe not even one Republican wanted to take a shot at Mills.
But it is much easier to believe that Democratic congressional staffers aimed to score political points for releasing Mills's entire testimony when it reality they cherry-picked only the parts that put Clinton in the most favorable light.
The press release claims that the transcript provides “significant evidence that Secretary Clinton was deeply engaged during and after the attacks and took action to ensure the safety and security of U.S. personnel, even as intelligence assessments of the attacks changed more than once during this period.”
“Republicans are spending millions of taxpayer dollars on a partisan campaign to damage Secretary Clinton’s bid for president,” Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) was quoted as saying.
No doubt he was referring to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Ca.) uber-gaffe earlier this month that ended his run to replace outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio). Many drew an inference from McCarthy’s comments that congressional Republicans were trying to torpedo Clinton’s presidential campaign at the expense of the truth. "Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable," McCarthy told Sean Hannity. "But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping."
In the end, conservative commentator Erick Erickson shrugged, calling the Benghazi hearing "a waste of time because everything about it is politicized and nothing is going to happen. There will be no scalp collection."
He continued: "Mrs. Clinton is far too bright to be trapped in this or any questions." Although she has gotten flustered under questioning, such incidents will "make her a martyr to her own side ... Democratic voters are not going to reject Mrs. Clinton even if she were to admit that she had flown to Benghazi and joined Al Qaeda in the attack."
Given the Hillary mania that grips so much of the Democratic Party and some leftists' positively morbid craving to put a woman in the Oval Office at all costs, Erickson may have a bit of a point.
And if Republican congressional leadership continues with the same old lackadaisical, self-sabotaging approach in which the white flag is waved before the first shot has been fired, the Benghazi committee won't accomplish much apart from generating revenue for fundraising consultants on both sides of the aisle.
The disturbing likelihood that Hillary Clinton will get away with her crimes remains, regardless of how noble, inspiring, and determined to get at the truth Benghazi Select Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy may be.