, ,

So Benghazi’s back in the news. Back in January, Secretary Clinton delivered her now famous words, “What difference does it make?” She told the congressmen that it didn’t matter to her how four Americans died in Benghazi. What mattered was that it not happen again. Let’s not dwell on the event’s particulars, she suggested, when we have real problems to solve.

Attacks on the U. S. consulate and a CIA safe house in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012

I’m sure Clinton wishes our recollection of the event would vanish. I’m sure she knows that our understanding of what happened in Benghazi affects our ideas about how to keep our diplomats and spies safe in the future. If the fire that killed Ambassador Stevens had been accidental, we would be talking about fire safety, not terrorism. Clinton’s aggressive comeback, “What difference does it make?”, actually has a specific point. She wants to say that it doesn’t matter whether we call the attackers terrorists, demonstrators, or as Clinton put it, some guys who decided they’d like to go out and kill some Americans. It didn’t matter what the killers’ motives were, either. They have to be stopped next time, that’s all.

If you’re a Democrat, you think Clinton’s questioner, Senator Johnson from Wisconsin, had the worst of it. If you’re not a Democrat, Secretary Clinton’s outburst revealed more than she cared to reveal, I think. When you speak for a government that habitually deceives, conceals, prevaricates, spins, distorts, withholds, engages in shifty propaganda and practices every kind of underhanded dishonesty you can think of, you have to check your ire when someone challenges your veracity. You have to smile and ask for the next question. Because after all, if you get annoyed and angry when someone challenges your version of a serious event like the attacks in Benghazi, you will look liked Secretary Clinton looked when she testified before Congress in January.

Suppose you tell the world the attacks occurred because spontaneous, unorganized demostrations about a stupid video turned violent and deadly. Then we discover the deaths occurred because our enemies launched well organized, well planned attacks on the consulate and a key CIA facility in Benghazi. Lastly, we find out the State Department, the CIA and the White House knew the nature of the attacks from the start, and sent Susan Rice out to broadcast a bunch of lies in order to conceal the truth. How can you respond to behavior like that with, “What difference does it make?”

You say it loud because you don’t want anyone to challenge you. When you speak for a dishonest organization, you have to be dishonest too, no matter how much it damages your own reputation. The Obama administration wants Benghazi to go away. It labels it old news and partisan politics. We don’t want to waste our energy on this kind of stuff. Indeed not. Dishonest people generally don’t care whether or not you trust them. They do, however, want you to forget their falsehoods. That way each new falsehood is like the first.


Here’s a relevant article in Reason: 3 Reasons Benghazi Still Matters.