On September 11, 2012, a large contingency of terrorist-linked individuals attacked a U.S. consulate office in Benghazi, Libya. The attack left four Americans dead, including the U.S. Ambassador, Chris Stevens. For weeks following the terror attack, the Obama administration, from the White House to the State Department, wove a tale that implicated an offensive YouTube video as the catalyst of what they called a demonstration gone awry. Months after the attack, as more information on that tragic night was revealed, the Obama administration's narrative collapsed on itself in epic fashion, prompting a Congressional investigation.
At this point, the "YouTube" story has been completely debunked, not only by intelligence officials, but also by U.S. diplomat Greg Hicks, the second-highest ranking U.S. official in Libya at the time of the attack. "I think everybody in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning," Hicks told the House Oversight Committee conducting the hearing on Benghazi. "Chris's last report, if you want to say his final report - is, 'Greg, we are under attack.'"
In light of the damning evidence undermining the Obama administration's systematic campaign of misinformation following the terror attack, the administration's only excuse is to paint detractors as crying over split milk, which is exactly what U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton stated in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing back in January of this year. "With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans," Clinton stated in the hearing. "Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they'd they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?"
Having spent a significant portion of my childhood in the Middle East - graduating from high school in Iran - and having worked for the Central Intelligence Agency earlier in my career, I can attest that it does make a difference, and a most critical one at that. While the Obama administration would rather choose to move-on from the terror attacks, using the death of their "friends" as a shield from scrutiny, we must understand the truth of what happened, and how it happened, if we are ever to avoid experiencing such a tragic attack again.
The point of this week's Congressional hearing about Benghazi is not to score political points to be used in coming elections -- it is to understand how a U.S. ambassador was left to die, suffocating to death in a "safe room" with no ventilation or other safety precautions. Additionally, it is to discover who dropped the ball in preventing the attack, as well as assisting in the rescue of those Americans under attack and the failure to properly handle sensitive intelligence documents to keep them from falling into the wrong hands.
The hearing makes a difference because the Benghazi attack exposes vast vulnerabilities, which only embolden our enemies. Mistakes made in Benghazi are eerily similar to those made in the 1979 attack on the U.S. embassy in Tehran. In both circumstances, the U.S. looked complacent and unprepared, as we either ignored intelligence of a coming attack, or we simply failed to understand and act on information already available. Additionally, both attacks happened because of woefully inadequate security, in addition to near criminally stupid decision to rely upon local security forces for protection. Everything leading up to the Benghazi attack virtually guaranteed a tragedy like that which occurred last September 11th.
Everything we could have done wrong, we did wrong. That is, again, why it makes a difference. That is the reason why any attempts to stonewall, intimidate, inhibit, or otherwise show any hint of a lack of cooperation in uncovering the truth during these investigations should be regarded as a fundamental breach of ethics, national security and duty, by the Obama administration.
The Obama administration has much explaining to do in its intentional misleading of not only the American public, but also members of Congress, in trying to whitewash the Benghazi attack. Not only does it undermine the very foundation of trust we are supposed to have in our government, but it also prevents us from understanding what more we can do to ensure the security of our foreign officials overseas. How are we ever going to avoid repeating the same mistakes if we don't have honest responses and answers? We also must be concerned that exhibiting to our adversaries, including al Qaeda, that we don't know what we are doing -- or that we don't care -- is a real problem.
So, to those who say these hearings "don't matter" and would rather protect the image of the Obama administration than ensure the long-term safety of Americans in other countries of the world, the Republicans in the Congress should stand firm and not wilt in the face of self-serving efforts from the Administration.
Bob Barr represented the 7th District of Georgia in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003, and now practices law in Atlanta, Georgia. He was the Libertarian Party nominee for President of the United States in the 2008 election. Now he's running for Georgia's 11th Congressional District and is Chairman of Liberty Guard, a non-profit and non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting individual liberty.