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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Benghazi Mother and Sister: "Stop Trump Blaming Hillary Clinton"

 

"I know for certain that Chris would not have wanted his name or memory used in that connection. I hope that there will be an 
immediate and permanent stop to this opportunistic and cynical 
use by the campaign.” 

 --Mary F. Commanday, The New York Times

Mrs. Commanday, the mother of slain U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, is calling on Donald Trump's campaign and the Republican Party to stop using her son's name and death in Benghazi as fodder for political attacks.

In addition, Dr. Anne Stevens, the sister of Ambassador Stevens and the chief of pediatric rheumatology at Seattle Children’s Hospital, believes using Chris’s death as a political point is not appropriate. She said …

"It is clear, in hindsight, that the facility was not sufficiently protected by the State Department and the Defense Department. But what was the underlying cause? Perhaps if Congress had provided a budget to increase security for all missions around the world, then some of the requests for more security in Libya would have been granted. Certainly the State Department is underbudgeted.

“I do not blame Hillary Clinton or Leon Panetta. They were balancing security efforts at embassies and missions around the world. And their staffs were doing their best to provide what they could with the resources they had. The Benghazi Mission was understaffed. We know that now. But, again, Chris knew that. It wasn’t a secret to him. He decided to take the risk to go there. It is not something they did to him. It is something he took on himself.

(Robin Wright. “Chris Stevens’s Family: Don’t Blame Hillary Clinton for Benghazi.”  The New Yorker. June 28, 2016.)

Dr. Stevens fondly recalled that her brother had been fascinated by the Middle East since childhood, when he dressed up as Lawrence of Arabia, with a towel and a pot atop his head. He served in the Peace Corps, in Morocco, before joining the Foreign Service, and he served twice in Libya before his final posting there, as well as in Damascus, Cairo, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. 

When asked what she thought about Secretary Clinton's conduct on Benghazi, Stevens said ...

“She (Clinton) has taken full responsibility, being head of the State Department, for what occurred. She took measures to respond to the review board’s recommendations. She established programs for a better security system. But it is never going to be perfect. Part of being a diplomat is being out in the community. We all recognize that there’s a risk in serving in a dangerous environment. Chris thought that was very important, and he probably would have done it again. I don’t see any usefulness in continuing to criticize her. It is very unjust.... 

“I know he (Christopher Stevens) had a lot of respect for Secretary Clinton. He admired her ability to intensely read the issues and understand the whole picture.”

The New Yorker reported that some Republicans, including senators John McCain and Mitch McConnell, supported U.S. action to help the Libyan rebels, and that would also have meant dropping the Benghazi investigation once it became clear that there wasn’t any evidence tying Clinton directly to security failures.

South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy and his colleagues in the House preferred to use the incident to “tar Hillary Clinton in 2016, rile up the G.O.P.’s base, and help the party to raise money even when it was obvious that they didn’t have the goods.” It was mudslinging which caused John Cassidy, staff writer at The New Yorker to conclude ...

“Most ordinary Americans, after following the hearings online or watching the coverage on the evening news, will have been wondering what all the fuss was about. Setting aside the basest form of partisan politics, the answer was not very much at all.”

(John Cassidy. “Where the Benghazi Committee Went Wrong.”  
The New Yorker. October 22, 2015.) 
 
The truth of Benghazi is this:

FALSE: Administration officials watched the attacks unfold in real time but did nothing to intervene.

The audio feed of the attack was being monitored in real time in Washington by diplomatic security official Charlene Lamb. CBS News learned that video of the assault was recovered 20 days later from the more than 10 security cameras at the compound.
FALSE: Requests issued by U.S. personnel for military back-up during the attacks were denied.

The White House flatly denied that President Barack Obama withheld requests for help from the besieged American compound in Benghazi, Libya, as it came under on attack by suspected terrorists on September 11th. "Neither the president nor anyone in the White House denied any requests for assistance in Benghazi," National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor [said].

And the CIA has denied that anyone in its chain of command rejected requests for help from the besieged Americans.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, asked why there had not been a quicker, more forceful response to the assault, complained of "Monday-morning quarterbacking." Panetta said he and top military commanders had judged it too dangerous to send troops to the eastern Libyan city without a clearer picture of events on the ground.

FALSE: The body of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens was "dragged through the street" following the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi.

Stevens' body was not dragged through the street, at least not in the degrading way some suggest, multiple accounts and three official reviews make clear.

"Local Libyans found the Ambassador at the Mission Facility and brought him to a local hospital. Despite attempts to revive him, Ambassador Stevens had no heartbeat and had perished from smoke inhalation."

Two other government bodies said much the same thing. An Accountability Review Board, headed by former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen and veteran diplomat Thomas Pickering, declared that Stevens was brought to the hospital by six civilians. "To the best knowledge of the Board these were ‘good Samaritans’ among the hordes of looters and bystanders," the review concluded.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee – controlled by Republicans -- reported that "local Libyans found the remains of Ambassador Stevens in the main diplomatic building at the Benghazi Mission and transported him to the hospital. The Libyans apparently did not realize who the Ambassador was, but they alerted the State Department of his location by using the cell phone that was in the Ambassador’s pocket. Libyan doctors tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate Ambassador Stevens upon his arrival at the hospital."

(Jon Greenberg. “Laura Ingraham: U.S. ambassador 'was dragged through the street' in Benghazi.” Politifact.com. May 05, 2014.)

The House Republicans final report on Benghazi contained no positive proof of Hillary Clinton's fault in the Benghazi tragedy, but the haters don't need “new” information or factual information to condemn wrongfully an opponent. They simply want to repeat the sick incantation of “Kill-ery” in hopes that a majority of the public will believe Clinton caused American officials' deaths.

Retired General Wesley K. Clark, the former NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, praised the e-book, The Benghazi Hoax by David Brock and Ari Rabin-Havt, explaining how the right-wing media turned a night of terror -- but also of valor -- into a phony scandal geared at damaging the Obama administration

Clark said, "David Brock and Ari Rabin-Havt peel back layer after layer of partisan deceit to reveal the truth about Republican motives and methods in the aftermath of Benghazi - and in so doing offer a strong warning to America and our media to focus on the facts - not partisan rhetoric."

Democrats have noted, the Republican-run probes into Benghazi have gone on longer than did the inquiries into the Sept. 11, 2001, assault, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

With respect and honor to those who lost their lives, it is time people put the Benghazi controversy to rest. Ambassador Chris Stevens, information officer Sean Smith, and former navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty died in the service of their country on September 11, 2012. They gave the full measure of their devotion for freedom and liberty, not for political campaigns or partisan gain.

For her part, Hillary Clinton has admitted the tragedy occurred on her watch. We can also show reverence for the tremendous responsibility borne by an American Secretary of State, and we can refuse to condemn her for unfortunate circumstances beyond the reach of her control. I believe that regard is the duty of those in a nation that employs ambassadors of democracy serving in danger zones filled with constant risk. 

 
Ambassador Chris Stevens

 

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