It appears that Barack Obama is ready to let Secretary of State Clinton take the fall for the failure in security in Benghazi. During the vice-presidential debate on Thursday it became clear that is what the agenda was.
There is no doubt that is part of her responsibility in that role. According to the State Department’s website:
The Secretary of State, and by extension, the Chief of Mission (COM), are responsible for developing and implementing security policies and programs that provide for the protection of all U.S. Government personnel (including accompanying dependents) on official duty abroad. This mission is executed through the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS). Personal and facility protection are the most critical elements of the DS mission abroad as they directly impact upon the Department’s ability to carry out its foreign policy. With terrorist organizations and coalitions operating across international borders, the threat of terrorism against U.S. interests remains great. Therefore, any U.S. mission overseas can be a target even if identified as being in a low-threat environment.
As a result, DS is more dedicated than ever to its mission of providing a secure living and working environment for our Foreign Service colleagues as they implement foreign policy and promote U.S. interests around the world. Nearly 800 DS special agents serve in regional security offices at over 250 posts worldwide. The DS special agents, also called regional security officers (RSOs) when serving abroad, manage security programs and also provide the first line of defense for our personnel, their families, U.S. diplomatic missions, and national security information. RSOs serve as the primary advisor to the COM on all security matters by developing and implementing security programs that shield U.S. missions and residences overseas from physical and technical attack.
It seems that there is a legitimate reason for the Obama administration to throw Clinton under the bus on this one and it seems that everyone is on board with it, including Vice President Joe Biden. Foreign Policy reports,
Vice President Joseph Biden speaks only for himself and President Barack Obama, and neither man was aware that U.S. officials in Libya had asked the State Department for more security before the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, a top White House official told The Cable.
Biden has come under fire for saying at Thursday night’s debate, “We weren’t told they wanted more security. We did not know they wanted more security there.”
The Cable asked Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications Ben Rhodes whether Biden was speaking for the entire Obama administration, including the State Department, which acknowledged receiving multiple requests for more Libya security in the months before the attacks. Rhodes said that Biden speaks only for himself and the president and neither of them knew about the requests at the time.
The State Department security officials who testified before House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa’s panel Wednesday never said they had made their requests to the president, Rhodes pointed out. That would be natural because the State Department is responsible for diplomatic security, not the White House, he said. Rhodes also pointed out that the officials were requesting more security in Tripoli, not Benghazi.
But, if you think that Hillary Clinton is going down without a fight, you would be sorely mistaken. Already former President Bill Clinton has stepped in to give his wife some aid in the matter.
My sources tell me that Clinton is working on a strategy that will allow Hillary to avoid having Benghazi become a stain on her political fortunes should she decide to run for president in 2016.
Bill Clinton has even gone so far as to seek legal advice about Hillary’s liability in terms of cables and memos that might be subpoenaed by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which this week launched an investigation into the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The committee will also examine the apparent Obama administration cover-up that followed the Benghazi attack.
Finally, I’m told that Bill is playing with various doomsday scenarios, up to and including the idea that Hillary should consider resigning over the issue if the Obama team tries to use her as a scapegoat. That seems unlikely to happen. But if relations between Obama’s White House and Hillary’s State Department rupture publicly over the growing Benghazi scandal, that could damage the Democratic ticket and dim Obama’s chances for re-election.
Barack Obama has taken some initiative to protect his Attorney General Eric Holder, though it is possibly because of his own involvement in Operation Fast and Furious. It’s quite possible that Clinton is the one that not only knew of the need for extra security for the Libyan ambassador, but that she made the decision to not provide it.