Haunted by the ghosts of Benghazi

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It’s about time.

Six hundred days, to be exact.

That’s how much time has passed since Sept. 11, 2012, when the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were murdered in Benghazi by al-Qaida terrorists.

And finally, on Friday, Speaker of the House John Boehner did what millions of Americans have been calling for since before the 2012 election — appoint a select committee to investigate Benghazi and to bring the truth to the American public.

Of course, the truth would have gone down a lot easier 600 days ago. Instead, we have had 600 days of coverup and obfuscation from the White House, the CIA and the State Department as the truth has been bent, spindled and mutilated in an effort to isolate Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama from the repercussions of allowing the massacre to take place in the first place, and then lying about it later.

Substitute the Justice Department for the State Department, and throw in the FBI, and you will have the Watergate coverup administered by President Nixon from June 17, 1972, the date of the infamous break-in at Democratic headquarters, until 1974 when the truth emerged in a series of tape recordings that showed Nixon and his closest advisers were guilty of obstruction of justice and much more.

Nixon managed to win re-election handily in November 1972 because he told the American people that Watergate had nothing to do with him and he sent his press secretary, Ron Ziegler, out to lie for him. The Watergate burglary was just an isolated incident without any connection to the White House.

President Obama managed to win re-election handily in November 2012 as well, and for the same reasons. He and his press secretary, Jay Carney, kept telling the American public that there was no story in Benghazi. Just the result of anger in the Islamic world worked up over a “blasphemous” YouTube video that purported to be a life of the prophet Mohammed. It was a demonstration that got out of hand — an unfortunate incident without any connection to the president.

Of course, we know how it turned out for that other president, Richard Nixon. Eventually, he was faced with the imminent threat of impeachment and he resigned in disgrace.

In hindsight, it may look like that was the inevitable result, but as someone who lived through that era, I can assure you it was not. Most of the public stood behind their president. They believed it was the evil liberal press that was lying and hounding the president, making up stories and grasping at straws. The only thing that tilted public opinion was the discovery that Nixon could be heard vulgarly orchestrating the entire coverup on the secret White House tapes. This was evidence that could not be overlooked.

These days, the argument is that the demonic hounds of far-right Fox News will stoop to any level to make President Obama look bad.  And so, for nearly 600 days, the American public has given the president the benefit of the doubt. They have ignored critics such as myself who have challenged the official White House version of events on Sept. 11, 2012, and thereafter, and they have not only re-elected the president but continued to laud him as an American hero.

It was just six weeks after the Benghazi attack when I first wrote a column comparing the White House response to the Watergate cover-up. I suspected that President Obama, like Nixon, would be re-elected, but I knew that the story was not going to end with that. I remembered how the people who had supported Nixon most loudly became his most vituperative foes when they discovered that he had lied to them. And I wrote a prophecy on Oct. 28, 2012, that probably seemed over the top to many readers:

“... one thing is certain. Just as Nixon could not escape the whirlwind of Watergate merely by winning an election, neither will Barack Obama avoid the judgment of history and the American people for what happened the night of Sept. 11, 2012. And as Nixon discovered to his chagrin, sometimes the sword of that judgment is terrible and swift.”

Well, the sword may finally have fallen in the Benghazi cover-up. Last week, the White House released a series of e-mails that were requested by the watchdog Judicial Watch organization under a Freedom of Information Act request. Among them was an e-mail previously withheld from Congress in which Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, wrote about coaching U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to say that anger about a video had led to the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi. She famously did just that on five Sunday morning talk shows two days later.

This email contradicted the official story that the White House has been telling for the past 18 months, and it also contradicted another email that was just released Thursday night by Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah. In that document, which had also previously been withheld from the public because of a security clearance attached to it, Assistant Secretary of State Beth Jones plainly describes the events of Sept. 11, 2012, as an attack by Ansar al-Sharia, a branch of al-Qaida, and not as the random outcome of a protest against a YouTube video, as Ambassador Rice and Hillary Clinton later claimed.

No wonder John Boehner finally acted. With evidence accumulating, he had no choice. The ghosts of Benghazi demand justice. And with a select committee appointed to devote its full attention to the scandal, we can at last hope that the lies will stop and the truth will finally be heard.

It’s about time.

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