The Benghazi Problem
In Mr. Romney's mind the incident in Benghazi has religious overtones, as do all foreign policy issues. Mormonism takes a superstitious view of American exceptionalism, in line with its superstitious and wholly false view of its own origins. So Mr. Romney's overreaction is not surprising. As Washington Post stenographer David Ignatius accurately points out, however, there is no there there. Mr. Romney's complaints fall well short of the mark. There is, however, another aspect of the incident which deserves attention, namely, who at the State Department should take the blame for a colossal security failure.
Mrs. Clinton has set retired Ambassador Thomas Pickering to report on what went wrong. A world-class fixer he will do his best to sweep up the mess and leave everything shiny and bright, including the reputations of all involved. He probably will succeed. But he might not.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Charlene Lamb, of International Programs within the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, recently had the unenviable task of testifying before Darrell Issa's Oversight Committee but my guess is it would be unfair to pin the blame on her. The one congressman Issa should be raking over the coals is Ambassador Eric J. Boswell, Assistant Secretary of the Bureau and (two hats) Director of the Office of Foreign Missions. Ambassador Boswell should be forced to explain, in detail, who had reported requests for more security in Libya, who at Main State had considered those requests, and who had denied them. This was not a DAS level decision or, if it was, the AS was not doing his job. Assuming it was an AS decision to what extent was it (before and afterward) reported up the ladder? Believe me, there's a hefty paper trail to be found. Mrs. Clinton says she takes responsibility but at the same time says she was in the dark. It can't be both. Who was the highest level official in the loop? That person, if a career official, should be reassigned, demoted, whatever, and made a great bloody example of unhappy career termination. If a political appointee, removed at once.
If it's Ambassador Boswell who made the mistake Mrs. Clinton would find herself in a difficult bind. As a rule, officials of his stature are never held accountable. She no doubt hopes that a reckoning won't need to be sorted out until after the election but that would be to put her own political future ahead of that of her boss.
With the presidential race as close as it seems I'm wondering whether accountability for Benghazi might move a material number of the undecided one way or the other?