The following is an excerpt from OpinionJournal’s “Best of the Web” at WSJ written by the editor, James Taranto.
‘Spinning Up as We Speak’
Judicial Watch is out with a revealing new email in its continuing Benghazi investigation. On Sept. 11, 2012, the date of the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other men, Pentagon deputy chief of staff Jeremy Bash wrote State Department leaders “immediately offering ‘forces that could move to Benghazi’ ”:
Bash’s email seems to directly contradict testimony given by then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February 2013. Defending the Obama administration’s lack of military response to the nearly six-hour-long attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Panetta claimed that “time, distance, the lack of an adequate warning, events that moved very quickly on the ground prevented a more immediate response.”
Here’s the text of the released email:
I just tried you on the phone but you were all in with S [apparent reference to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton].
After consulting with General Dempsey, General Ham and the Joint Staff, we have identified the forces that could move to Benghazi. They are spinning up as we speak. They include a [REDACTED].
Assuming Principals agree to deploy these elements, we will ask State to procure the approval from host nation. Please advise how you wish to convey that approval to us [REDACTED].
There’s a lot of material redacted, though Townhall.com’s Katie Pavlich reports Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, has the full email. It appears the “principals” did not agree. “Ultimately, Special Operations forces on their own initiative traveled from Tripoli to Benghazi to provide support during the attack,” Judicial Watch notes. “Other military assets were only used to recover the dead and wounded, and to evacuate U.S. personnel from Libya.”
This email does not directly implicate then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. One imagines she was probably among the “principals” mentioned in the email, but so far there’s no way to know if it was she who objected to the deployment of forces.
In other Benghazi news, HotAir’s Guy Benson notes an exchange Mrs. Clinton had Sunday on ABC’s “This Week With [Clinton foundation donor] George Stephanopoulos.” The background: Families of the men killed at Benghazi have said that in meetings after the attack, the then-secretary repeated the administration’s line that an anti-Muslim video was to blame. Said Charles Woods, the father of Tyrone: “I gave Hillary a hug and shook her hand. And she said ‘we are going to have the filmmaker arrested who was responsible for the death of your son.’ ”
The claim that the Benghazi violence was provoked by an anti-Muslim video is difficult to reconcile with Mrs. Clinton’s claim last month that “Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.” Were the attackers secular social justice warriors moved to violence by outrage at “Islamophobia”? At any rate, on ABC Mrs. Clinton offered a one-word denial of Charles Woods’s account, followed by 133 words of blather:
Stephanopoulos: Did you tell them it was about the film? And what’s your response?
Clinton: No. You know, look I understand the continuing grief at the loss that parents experienced with the loss of these four brave Americans. And I did testify, as you know, for 11 hours [before the select committee]. And I answered all of these questions. Now, I can’t—I can’t help it the people think there has to be something else there. I said very clearly there had been a terrorist group, uh, that had taken responsibility on Facebook, um, between the time that, uh, I—you know, when I talked to my daughter, that was the latest information; we were, uh, giving it credibility. And then we learned the next day it wasn’t true. In fact, they retracted it. This was a fast-moving series of events in the fog of war and I think most Americans understand that.
As Benson notes (and as we noted in October), a Sept. 12, 2012, State Department email revealed that Mrs. Clinton told an Egyptian diplomat: “We know that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack—not a protest.”
Charles Woods’s account of his conversation with Mrs. Clinton and her denial constitute a classic he-said/she-said dispute. Readers will have to make up their own minds whom to believe, taking into account Mrs. Clinton’s long public record. We do know, however, that the administration made good on the putative threat to arrest the filmmaker.
NBC News reports that Mrs. Clinton, now the inevitable Democratic presidential nominee, “on Tuesday denounced in an online post Donald Trump’s call for ‘a total and complete shutdown’ of Muslims entering the United States, saying the Republican presidential front-runner is ‘playing right into’ the hands of terrorists”:
“It’s a shameful idea. It’s also dangerous,” Clinton said of the idea Trump proposed Monday in a written statement, adding, “At a time when America should be doing everything we can to fight radical jihadists, Mr. Trump is supplying them with new propaganda.” . . .
She had a specific message for Muslim-Americans: “What you’re hearing from Trump and other Republicans is absolutely, unequivocally wrong. It’s inconsistent with our values as a nation—a nation which you are helping to build. . . .”
One can certainly argue that Trump’s proposal goes too far. But it takes gall for Mrs. Clinton to lecture anyone about “our values as a nation,” given that she was part of an administration that responded to a terrorist attack by arresting a filmmaker.
True, the arrest was for a probation violation, but a few days earlier, speaking at the United Nations, President Obama himself made clear that was but a pretext: “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam,” the president of the United States told the world.
Not only is that more illiberal than anything Trump has (thus far) dreamed up; it actually is precisely what the terrorists want.
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