Hillary Clinton has resurrected the Benghazi issue in a forthcoming book, a chapter of which has been leaked to the press before publication. Her apparent intention is to demonstrate that she acted responsibly during and after the attack that killed four Americans. Many readers will be convinced by her arguments. I am not. To begin with, several statements reportedly contained in her book either ignore the facts or strain credulity.
Clinton claims she did not see the warnings issued by Ambassador Stevens. “That’s not how it works. It shouldn’t. And it didn’t.” The fact that her name was on them was, she says, a “procedural quirk.” Even if we accept that explanation, the question remains, Why would the Secretary of State not have established a protocol for informing her immediately of every urgent message from an ambassador?
Clinton claims, “[President Obama] gave the order to do whatever was necessary to support our people in Libya. It was imperative that all possible resources be mobilized immediately. … When Americans are under fire, that is not an order the Commander in Chief has to give twice.” Given the undisputed fact that no resources were mobilized either in Libya or Italy or elsewhere, this claim is at best disingenuous.
Clinton apparently offers no explanation of why she did not appear on five Sunday talk shows following Benghazi, but instead had U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice appear in her place. Rice later said it was because Clinton had been too tired to do so herself. Too tired to discuss a crisis in her area of responsibility? Really? Is this the way she would behave as President?
Clinton claims, “Susan stated what the intelligence community believed, rightly or wrongly, at the time…That was the best she or anyone could do. Every step of the way, whenever something new was learned, it was quickly shared with Congress and the American people.” This directly contradicts verified reports that the administration knew—even as the attack was underway—that the perpetrators were not participants in a demonstration over an offensive video but terrorists. Incidentally, according to the families she spoke to when the bodies of the victims were returned to the U.S., Clinton herself blamed the video.
These reasons are more than sufficient to reject Clinton’s argument that she behaved responsibly before and after Benghazi. But for me, as a logician, there is another equally important reason. When asked about the Benghazi attack at a 2012 Congressional hearing, Clinton delivered the following remarks with great passion:
With all due respect, the fact is, we had four dead Americans! Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again. [Emphasis added]
This statement is a logical nightmare. Clinton is suggesting we shouldn’t bother learning the facts of what happened but should instead make sure it doesn’t happen again. To get a fuller sense of the absurdity of this suggestion, consider how you’d react to these parallel situations:
A plane crashes. The FAA official says to the media, “We can’t bother with what caused the crash—our job is to ‘figure out the details’ of what occurred.” You’d no doubt think he was crazy because finding the cause and finding what happened are virtually identical.
Your car breaks down. The mechanic tells you he’s not going to check it carefully and find out what went wrong. Rather, he says, he’s going to try to fix it. You’d no doubt reply, “That makes no sense. You have to find out what went wrong in order to know what needs fixing.”
You are discussing the economic disaster of 2008, a complex event involving many factors including subprime lending, easy credit, dishonest lending practices, and the bursting of the housing bubble. One person says, “It’s not important to learn which factors came first, which were most influential, and so on. We should focus on how to prevent another such disaster.” Chances are you’d say, “Wait a minute. We can’t prevent a recurrence unless we know why it happened.”
Clinton’s claim is as absurd as the claims of the people in these scenarios, and for the same reason—if we are trying to prevent something from happening again, it makes all the difference in the world whether we know exactly what went wrong the first time.
As if this offense against logic were not enough, Clinton demonizes anyone who would criticize her reasoning or behavior. She writes, “Those who exploit this tragedy over and over as a political tool minimize the sacrifice of those who served our country,” and adds,“I will not be a part of a political slugfest on the backs of dead Americans. It’s just plain wrong, and it’s unworthy of our great country. Those who insist on politicizing the tragedy will have to do so without me.”
Shame on Mrs. Clinton for insulting the intelligence of her fellow citizens. Double shame on those who fall for her performance.
Copyright © 2014 by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero. All rights reserved
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