Monday, August 19, 2013

Benghazi Firings

Here's the New York Times headline of December 19, 2012 regarding punishment for bureaucrats fingered in the Bengahzi attack:
4 Are Out at State Dept. After Scathing Report on Benghazi Attack
"4 are out". Most would assume "out" to mean fired.  But the Times worded it craftily in the body of their report:
Four State Department officials were removed from their posts on Wednesday after an independent panel criticized the “grossly inadequate” security at a diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that was attacked on Sept. 11, leading to the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
So "out" meant "removed from their posts", which technically does not mean fired. A few weeks later the New York Post clarified this in a story that was condemned by some on the left:
The four officials supposedly out of jobs because of their blunders in the run-up to the deadly Benghazi terror attack remain on the State Department payroll — and will all be back to work soon, The Post has learned. The highest-ranking official caught up in the scandal, Assistant Secretary of State Eric Boswell, has not “resigned” from government service, as officials said last week. He is just switching desks. And the other three are simply on administrative leave and are expected back.
When asked about it during her testimony in January Hillary was fairly forceful in suggesting the four should actually be fired:
“First, all four individuals have been removed from their jobs,” Clinton began. “Secondly, they have been placed on administrative leave. Thirdly, Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen highlighted the reason why this has been so complicated. Under federal statute and regulations, unsatisfactory leadership is not grounds for finding a breach of duty.”
“Fourth, I have submitted legislation to this committee and to the Senate committee to fix this problem so future ARBs (Accountability Review Board) will not face this situation. Because I agree with you, there ought to be more leeway given to the ARBs.”
But that was then.  Fast forward to this evening and an announcement from John Kerry:
Secretary of State John Kerry has determined that the four State Department officials placed on administrative leave by Hillary Clinton after the terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi do not deserve any formal disciplinary action and has asked them to come back to work at the State Department starting Tuesday.
Kerry said he made the determination based on findings of the ARB, which was precisely what Hillary had used to 'fire' them.

The funny thing is, Kerry is right. No lower level staffers deserved to lose their jobs over Benghazi, or even be sent home with pay. If there was going to be any ass-kicking it should have been a top leadership level. By blaming these four people the administration was trying to get people to think it was some kind of bureaucratic failure they were taking care of, instead of a planned terrorist attack on 9/11.

Now, nearly one year from that attack (and the misinformation dumped on the public explaining it)--and after closing 22 embassies based on an AQ threat just recently--there's no reason to pretend that what happened was a reaction to a video or even bureaucratic incompetence.  The stonewalling has shifted solely to what the CIA was doing there, which is a question that could take decades to answer. 

Although these non-firings really didn't factor into the 2012 presidential election, other than the president continually pointing to 'the ARB review' so he could avoid talking about it, something eventually had to be done when the final report came out.  So they 'fired' the bureaucrats.   Oddly enough, Kerry's reinstatement of these people could be taken as a slap at Hillary.  If he did it unilaterally it might even send a signal of his interest in challenging Hillary16! for the nod, which could cause her some headaches.  But the chances are he's just hoping few will notice.  

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