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Another View -- Lindsey Graham: Benghazi hearing shows Clinton unfit to be Commander in Chief

October 25. 2015 10:30PM

Last week's hearing of the Select Committee on Benghazi made irrefutable what has long been increasingly clear: Hillary Clinton is unfit to be Commander in Chief. Her actions before, during, and after the attack have unmasked a lack of leadership and fundamental untrustworthiness that were not befitting a Secretary of State, and would be disastrous for a President. Above all, the facts of Benghazi demonstrate the centrality of her role in an administration that is not only an utter failure in its foreign policy, but that actively misleads the American people about its failures for political gain.

Many in the media, including pundits, have asserted that the hearing was pointless and that Clinton won the day. To the contrary, through Chairman Trey Gowdy’s excellent work in investigating what happened, we now know several salient facts that demonstrate precisely the opposite is true.

We know that she failed to reverse conditions that made the attack possible, if not inevitable. 600 requests for additional security were submitted from Libya, all of which were denied by then-Secretary Clinton’s State Department. During this time, the British diplomatic mission was attacked, and their ambassador subsequently withdrew. The Red Cross also withdrew as security conditions deteriorated. The grim joke made by Ambasador Chris Stevens to colleagues before his death that he might have to turn to Qatar for backup paints a tragic picture of how isolated our team in Libya was.

We know that on the night of the Benghazi attack, when our consulate was under siege and four Americans, including Stevens, were being murdered, Secretary Clinton did not so much as place a call to the Secretary of Defense or the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She had failed those serving under her in the leadup to that night, Sept. 11, 2012, and she failed them in their hour of greatest need.

Finally, we know that in the aftermath, she was complicit in the administration’s efforts to shield its own failures and reinforce a false narrative that al-Qaida was in retreat in order to salvage President Obama’s reelection bid. With less than two months to go before that election, Clinton, Susan Rice, and the entire administration sought to blame the Benghazi attack on a spontaneous protest to an anti-Muslim video that was circulating online.

We know that Clinton informed the government of Libya, the government of Egypt, and her own family within 48 hours of that attack that it was a coordinated terrorist attack that had nothing to do with a video. And yet, on Sept. 14, she met with the families of the fallen and led them to believe that the video and a fictitious protest were to blame. Two days later, then-ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice went on television to peddle this spurious account. Clinton sat on the sidelines while the public was misled.

Getting to the truth of Benghazi is a worthy and essential endeavor. We owe the families of the fallen a full accounting. We owe every single member of our diplomatic corps the assurance that we are making the changes to ensure that their lives are not similarly at risk.

Given what we now know, the best defense of Hillary Clinton’s actions is that she was utterly negligent and failed to grasp conditions on the ground before and during the attack, and that she was unwilling to correct the record when Susan Rice misled the American people. Even under this relatively charitable assessment, she has proven herself unfit to lead. A Commander in Chief is supposed to comfort the families of the fallen, not mislead them. A Commander in Chief is supposed to make sure those in battle are well equipped, not left defenseless.

An even more damning interpretation of the facts would be that she knowingly withheld needed security assistance in Libya because it would negate Obama’s false narrative that he had defeated al-Qaida, brought stability to the region, and made America more secure. Whether her sins were primarily of commission or omission, there is no denying that she does not have the leadership or the trustworthiness necessary to be President.

South Carolina U.S. Sen. Graham is seeking the Republican presidential nomination.

War Presidential Guest Commentary Lindsey Graham

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