One of the core demands of the Trump hard-core fans is: “Jail her!” – for the elimination of e-mails on her private server and the events in Benghazi.

 

In both cases Hillary Clinton made severe mistakes.

Let us look into the facts about Benghazi.

The Benghazi attacks on the 2012 anniversary of September 11th in Libya have exposed a catalogue of intelligence failures, outdated technology and general negligence that lead to the deaths of four American personnel in a US diplomatic compound in Benghazi in September 11, 2012. 

  • United States House Select Committee on Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi was created to investigate the 2012 Benghazi attack.
  • During that tragic event, the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya was attacked, resulting in the deaths of the U.S. ambassador to that country, J. Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans.
  • May 8, 2015, the House of Representatives’ Select Committee releases an Interim Progress Update Report shedding new light on administration’s handling of attack in Benghazi.
  • This 800-page long investigation takes into account 81 new witnesses and 75,000 new pages of documents.
  • President Obama and Hillary Clinton accused of putting politics before security as intelligence flaws revealed.

The deadly 2012 Benghazi attack against two US government buildings in the Libyan city by members of the Islamic militant group Ansar al-Sharia overwhelmed American security forces.

Accusations of incompetence and complacency before and after the deadly incident have dogged the Obama administration, not least the then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton quizzed over Benghazi attack

Questions over Clinton’s handling of the Benghazi attack won’t go away.

In the race for the White House Hillary Clinton’s role in the affair has been much criticized by Republican candidate  Donald Trump throughout his campaign and blemished her reputation as a ‘safe pair of hands’ to run the country.

 

But what happened in Benghazi on that day and what can this major new report tell us about the security of Americans abroad? The results are not happy reading…

How Benghazi unfolded:

September 11, 2012: 

  • 9:40 p.m. Unidentified gunmen launch a premeditated assault on the U.S. diplomatic compound in the city of Benghazi, overwhelming U.S. and Libyan security troops. Personnel retreat to another building come under siege for two hours and are under siege for 2 hours.
  • 10:30 p.m. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and Sean Smith suffer massive smoke inhalation as attackers set fire to the main compound building.
  • 11 p.m. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey and President Obama meet for the first time.
  • 1 a.m. A  rescue team arrives in from Tripoli and nearly 30 Americans are evacuated from the compound. Ambassador Stevens is taken to Benghazi Medical Center and pronounced dead on arrival.
  • 1:45 a.m. News alerts appear reporting the death of at least one US personnel in Benghazi.
  • 4 a.m. Gunmen launch another  assault with mortars and Glen Doherty and Tyrone S. Woods former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone S. Woods are killed.

The 800 page report has been hotly anticipated and promises to shed new light on an extremely murky time for the Obama administration.  81 new witnesses were called to provide testimony, and  75,000 new pages of documents were analysed to paint a complete picture of what happened on the ground and the intelligence failings that surrounded it.

Key Findings

  • 8 hours after the attacks began following unrest and rioting, no military forces had been ordered to Benghazi.
  • Immediately following the start of attacks a Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team waited on an aircraft in Rota, Spain, for 3 hours, changing uniforms 4 times.
  • President Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta sent clear orders to deploy military assistance but nothing was sent to Benghazi or Libya by the time the last two Americans were killed.

Let Down by Politicians

  • Libyan forces helped some Americans escape to the Benghazi airport but they were any of the officially recognized militias the CIA had a relationship with. Instead, they were former Qadhafi loyalists who the U.S. had helped remove from power.
  • Despite a video released prior to the attack claiming responsibility for several similar incidents, no direct link or solid evidence existed connecting the attacks in Benghazi and the video. An American eye-witness said there was virtually no discussion about the video in Libya leading up to the attacks.

An “Intelligence Failure”

  • The CIA’s intelligence assessment from just before the attacks was riddled with errors. There is just a single mention of “the early stages of the protest” buried in one bullet point.
  •  GLOBALO found out that Benghazi was a main CIA hub and the agency as well responsible to protect its installations at the consulate and the airport- the CIA failed, not only the Department of State.
  • Just a month before the Benghazi attacks in September security on the ground had visibly and significantly worsened. Ambassador Stevens cancelled his plans to travel to Benghazi in early August, but cancelled the trip “primarily for Ramadan/security reasons”.
  • Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta admitted that “an intelligence failure” occurred to the committee in Benghazi. Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell also acknowledged multiple instances of intelligence failings and compacency prior to the Benghazi attacks.

Suicide Mission

The issue of keeping Americans safe abroad has been an unwelcome one for Hillary at these most recent debates. The Benghazi affair has prompted questions about her priorities when it comes to both the security of the country and her personal files. Her decision to use a Blackberry phone rather than a secure route for official correspondence, and the subsequent loss of important emails relating to Benghazi, has become a nasty blemish on her governmental record.

Hillary Clinton quizzed over Benghazi attack

Hillary Clinton was quizzed multiple times over the Benghazi attacks.

In response to the report, many have also decried the situation that the victims of Benghazi were placed by their own government.

Representative  Susan Brooks commented in a statement, “President Obama has said his worst mistake was ‘failing to plan for the day after … intervening in Libya.’ As a result of this ‘lead from behind’ foreign policy, the Libyan people were forced to make the dismal trade of the tyranny of Qadhafi for the terror of ISIS, Al-Qaeda and others. Although the State Department considered Libya a grave risk to American diplomats in 2011 and 2012, our people remained in a largely unprotected, unofficial facility that one diplomatic security agent the committee interviewed characterized as ‘a suicide mission.’”

We will have to see how this incident defines Mrs Clinton, but it is clear that there are many lessons from Benghazi still to learn.

Read More: Benghazi: A Smear Campaign Against Hillary Clinton?

Photo credit: Flickr/ Al Jazeera