- Posted January 24, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Yes, Madam Secretary, At This Point It Does Matter
- hhanks, CNN iReport producer
"What difference, at this point, does it make?"
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Senate Foreign Relations Committee January 23, 2013
Outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed two committees of Congress on Wednesday about the terrorist attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. It was during the first hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that has sparked a certain amount of controversy in her response to Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
I understand the Secretary's frustration. I understood what she meant that "at this point" what is important is too learn from the mistakes and move forward. We cannot bring back the dead nor undo the wrong, but hopefully we can lessen a similar incident and similar mistakes in the future. That I get.
However, I think Clinton did not quite grasp the issue being asked since Clinton from day one and her department have rightfully characterized the attack as being perpetrated by terrorists with connection to Al Qaeda. Clinton has accepted her responsibility for the short comings and failings that led up to the tragedy. But that is not the issue.
Perhaps the Secretary was the wrong person to be hammering on this issue. President Barack Obama already came to the defence of United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice for her appearance on five Sunday talk news shows. The President said to ask him, to put the onus on him. He is right.
While State and Clinton have acknowledged from the beginning that Benghazi was a planned terrorist attack on our mission, it is not really Clinton who should explain why the President, the White House and Rice seemed to try and divert attention away from what the whole world knew immediately was a terrorist attack and blame it on an obscure, poorly crafted video by a shady producer with an anti-Islam agenda.
To me it is more a question the President should come before the committees and answer.
Clinton even noted that when you don't know the cause for sure, you should just say that, rather than pull a response out of the air.
The question deals with being truthful and upfront with the American people. The question deals with not making a storyline fit a political agenda.
A terrorist attack on the Benghazi mission on September 11, 2012 did not coincide with the Administration and the re-election storyline that Al Qaeda was on the run, that Al Qaeda has been decimated. That storyline still continues even today in spite of evidence to the contrary: Benghazi, the Algerian hostage standoff with the deaths of another four Americans, the ongoing conflict in northern Mali.
While the mother group of Al Qaeda may have been dealt a fatal blow, closely aligned or new incarnations of the fanatical ideology of extreme jihadism is alive and well and thriving. The war on terror, contrary to some in the Administration, is far from over. We are losing and still not wining the hearts and minds of those who would see our destruction.
It was a political calculation to deflect what happened at Benghazi and to refrain from use of the terms "terrorism" and "Al Qaeda". But it was a flawed calculation that just keeps giving fodder to those who buy into cover-ups and conspiracies.
Where I disagree with Clinton is her reference in the hearings to allowing the FBI to continue its investigation and not get in the way of that investigation. The same occurred during her husband's administration following the attack on one of our naval vessels docked in the Middle East.
This is not a criminal case, where gathering evidence to prosecute in a court must be done. Remember the same occurred after the USS Cole incident. We had to gather evidence to prosecute those responsible rather than call the bombing what we know now it was...a terrorist attack by Al Qaeda. The US did not act to extract vengeance and justice. The terrorists saw this as a sign of weakness.
A year or so later, the Twin Towers tumbled in shambles and mayhem killing over 3,000 on American soil.
Failure to admit that Al Qaeda, even in its offshoots, is not decimated and is still a real threat is the problem and the issue. Had we responded immediately and with force to Benghazi, perhaps the Al Qaeda leaning terrorists would not have been emboldened to attack and kill four more Americans and others in Algeria.
The hesitancy shown in dealing with Benghazi as a terrorist attack, as well as an act of terror by Nidal Hasan in the Fort Hood mass shooting and not a "work place act of violence", only tells these fanatics and extremists bent on destroying our nation that we don't have the balls to hit back and hit back hard in spite of pronouncements to "bring the perpetrators to justice".
We have to stop thinking in terms of criminal cases and realize and accept this is war, not a courtroom with adversarial roles of prosecutor and defense attorney.
It matters, Madam Secretary, because over four months have passed. It matters, Madam Secretary, because another four Americans have died because of Al Qaeda related terrorists, this time in Algeria. It matters, Madam Secretary, because Al Qaeda in yet another inception has a foothold in northern Mali. It matters, Madam Secretary, because the dialogue out of the Administration does not match the reality on the ground.
The zealots of jihadist extremism, inspired by Osama Bin Laden, are growing and becoming more daring and brazen. These fanatics see the United States as weak and not having the wherewithal to follow through on threats of swift justice and vengeance.
No, Madam Secretary, the onus does not lie with you. The onus lies with the occupant of the Oval Office.
From the Cornfield, it matters that the President clearly tells the American people that terrorism is still very real and a threat to our American way of life. It matters that Congress addresses the questions to the right people.
As Clinton noted herself, just because the mainland US has not been hit since that awful day of 9/11/2001, it does not mean that these terrorists are not still plotting, planning and waiting for another try to inflict the most harm and do the most destruction.