The talking-points controversy was always strangely misdirected—in part because, as this report makes clear, there is a lot that was substantively wrong with the way things were managed in Benghazi. That is true particularly if the subject of discussion is Hillary Clinton. She does not come out well in this report, in any part, although the Republican minority is more florid in its criticisms. The State Department made mistakes when she was its leader. One of the findings is that nothing changed even when “tripwires” meant to prompt an increase in security or suspension in operations had been crossed, and people in the Department knew it.Hillary has used her close association with Stevens as a reason not to blame her for what happened. She cared, specifically and personally, about him. But he cared about himself too, and he comes in for blame in that report for the circumstances of his own death. It looks to me — and, please, argue with me and correct me if I'm wrong — as though the idea of Libya was to win without putting our military personnel in the line of fire, and having seemingly won using that approach, Hillary Clinton and Christopher Stevens wanted to avoid needing to send our personnel in to provide security. They chose, for the sake of that image, to use Libyans for security, and that risk did not work out.
Why not? She doesn’t really have an answer; in the past, she has deflected questions by pointing out that Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, who died in Benghazi, was someone she knew well and cared about; there is no doubt that he was. Despite her performance at a hearing last year, when she wondered why exactly what happened really mattered, callous indifference is not the answer here.... But her reluctance to change course may have been influenced by her heavy investment in the decision to take military action in Libya; the former defense secretary Robert Gates writes in his new memoir that hers was the voice that swayed the balance. (Joe Biden was on the other side.) Libya was one of the things she had managed in her stint as Secretary of State, for which she had been so praised. Also, again, Libya was supposed to be something we were done with; now it will be a question Hillary Clinton has to contend with in 2016, and, in fairness, rightly so.
January 16, 2014
From Amy Davidson's piece in The New Yorker (boldface added):