Congressional Hearing Produces Shocker on Benghazi

Helle Dale /

imago stock&people/Newscom

imago stock&people/Newscom

Kudos to members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee for squarely placing Benghazi on the table at today’s hearing with Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry’s answers were nothing less than shocking.

What we learned is that State is conducting yet another internal review of Benghazi, initiated by Kerry himself immediately after taking office and allegedly due soon. This amounts to a huge indictment of the credibility of Kerry’s predecessor Hillary Clinton and of the investigation by the State Department’s Accountability Review Board. Clearly, even John Kerry is not confident in the Obama Administration’s version of events.

Kerry promised the committee that he would “clear the air,” though he also repeatedly used the phrase that clearing the air needs to be done “so we can move on” to far more important issues.

In the breadth of issues covered in the hearing, from North Korea’s nuclear threats to Middle East peace to the disputed Venezuelan elections, the urgency and specificity of the members’ many Benghazi questions stood out. No one likes being given the run-around accorded the congressional committees by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. As Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R–CA) stated, shaking with anger: “I do not believe Secretary of State Clinton was cooperating fully with this committee. We think there was a cover up of some kind of wrong doing.”

However, if—a big if, admittedly—Kerry keeps the commitments made at Thursday’s hearing, there could be a breakthrough in understanding the egregious lapses in security that left the Benghazi consulate vulnerable to the September 2012 attack, which killed four Americans, including U.S. ambassador to Egypt Christopher Stevens.

What Kerry did not promise was to investigate the misleading statements made by U.N. Secretary Susan Rice on September 16 on the Sunday talk shows. Representative Mo Brooks (R–AL) got an unusually straight “no” to his question of whether Kerry was investigating Rice’s part in spreading false information in the aftermath of the attack.

Kerry himself has an opportunity, however, to establish greater trust between the Obama Administration and Members of Congress by providing real answers to its legitimate questions. This is critically important—not in order to “move on” but fix diplomatic security for those who serve this country.