When something goes terribly wrong the gut reaction of anyone is to look at who’s to blame. And when looking at who’s to blame for the attacks on an American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, those who perpetrated the attacks are who’s to blame. However, it is up to us to figure out how to make sure it is never allowed to happen again.
With Republicans trying their darnedest to try and make former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the person to point blame at, facts and reality show something rather different. Understanding this is none other than the sister of Ambassador Chris Stevens, who perished on that fateful night in Benghazi.
In an interview with The New Yorker, Dr. Anne Stevens explained what she feels led up to the death of her brother. 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.”
And she made sure to say that she does not blame Hillary Clinton:
“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.”
That’s the thing, and as horrible as some may find the statement, “it is something he took on himself,” it is true. When you take a career in foreign service in a volatile region, you are well-aware that there is a very large risk to your safety and the safety of those around you.
Then after explaining that she doesn’t see anything new from the latest Benghazi reports, Stevens explained what she thought of how Clinton handled everything:
“She 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.”
And as far as if she believes her brother’s death is being politicized:
“Yes! Definitely politicized. Every report I read that mentions him specifically has a political bent, an accusatory bent. One point that seems to be brought up again and again is the accusation that the attack was a response to the video. I could understand why that conclusion would be made, because it was right after the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Egypt. But, frankly, it doesn’t matter that that was the thinking, that night, about why the attack occurred. It’s irrelevant to bring that up again and again. It is done purely for political reasons.”
Stevens then explained that if Congress actually wanted to be helpful they would figure out how to better get resources to those working in State Department facilities everywhere. Which is actually what Clinton has been calling for from the beginning. If you’ll recall the infamous line “what difference does it make?” that right-wing pundits and politicians love to use out of context to claim she doesn’t care, is actually one of the most thoughtful moments of the initial investigations.
Here’s what Clinton said in full:
“With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. 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? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator. Now, honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this, but the fact is that people were trying in real time to get to the best information. The IC has a process, I understand, going with the other committees to explain how these talking points came out. But you know, to be clear, it is, from my perspective, less important today looking backwards as to why these militants decided they did it than to find them and bring them to justice, and then maybe we’ll figure out what was going on in the meantime.”
If only Republicans would listen to her.
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