If the Obama administration thought the questions over the Benghazi attack would die down after Hillary Clinton took full responsibility for it, they were wrong. Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte released the following statement in response to Clinton’s comment:
“We have just learned that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has claimed full responsibility for any failure to secure our people and our Consulate in Benghazi prior to the attack of September 11, 2012. This is a laudable gesture, especially when the White House is trying to avoid any responsibility whatsoever.
“However, we must remember that the events of September 11 were preceded by an escalating pattern of attacks this year in Benghazi, including a bomb that was thrown into our Consulate in April, another explosive device that was detonated outside of our Consulate in June, and an assassination attempt on the British Ambassador. If the President was truly not aware of this rising threat level in Benghazi, then we have lost confidence in his national security team, whose responsibility it is to keep the President informed. But if the President was aware of these earlier attacks in Benghazi prior to the events of September 11, 2012, then he bears full responsibility for any security failures that occurred. The security of Americans serving our nation everywhere in the world is ultimately the job of the Commander-in-Chief. The buck stops there.
At Time, Michael Crowley wonders why Republicans are still calling for Obama to take responsibility, instead of just accepting Clinton’s mea culpa:
The Secretary of State has been an archvillain of Republican campaigns for decades now. And when it comes to the debate over security in Benghazi, it would seem that the buck should stop with her. But suddenly it doesn’t suit the GOP to attack Clinton. Her approval ratings are sky-high. Romney already has a problem with female voters. And Hillary’s not on the ballot this November. The GOP wants to concentrate its political attacks on Obama, even at the cost of sounding nonsensical.
How is that nonsensical?
It’s likely Obama wasn’t aware of the diplomatic security failures in Benghazi before the attack. But he is responsible for how the aftermath of the attack was handled. There was initial intelligence indicating that it was an act of terror carried out by a group linked to al Qaeda. But for nearly two weeks after the attack, the Obama administration misled the public on the intelligence.
Imagine waking up on Sept. 12 and hearing the White House announce what it knew at the time: that a terrorist group affiliated with al Qaeda had attacked our consulate in Benghazi, killing our ambassador and three other Americans on the 9/11 anniversary. Not only would this have sent shockwaves through the world, it would have had major political ramifications for a president running for reelection on an “Al Qaeda’s dead, GE’s alive” platform.
They didn’t tell us that. Instead we were told that Ambassador Chris Stevens had been killed by a mob of extremist protesters. It took nearly two weeks for the White House to publicly acknowledge that this was a terrorist attack, and another month before the State Department admitted there was no protest. And the administration has yet to clarify al Qaeda’s involvement.
The administration hit the slow-motion button. The length of time between the official revelations cushioned some of the shock. And since much of the information we know was unearthed by the media, the administration could choose what it wanted to confirm on its own timeline, through lower-level officials and spokespersons. Notice that President Obama, who never turns down a chance to give a speech, still hasn’t formally addressed the public about the fact that this was a terrorist attack. That’s not what leadership looks like.