Hillary Clinton and “The Benghazi Triangle”—where careers and reputations vanish without a trace

The Bermuda Triangle is a well-known area where ships have been known to vanish without a trace, and without any cogent explanation. It seems that since September 11, 2012, there is also some kind of “Benghazi Triangle”–where careers and reputations vanish without a trace.

After steadfastly maneuvering to avoid “The Benghazi Triangle”, it now appears that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton risks ultimately being caught up in its vortex.

Clinton certainly did not want to be involved with Benghazi, where one of her ambassadors and three other Americans were killed by heavily-armed militants on the evening of September 11, 2012.

After a grueling week, she “declined” to appear on the Sunday talk shows on September 16, leaving the White House to delegate that task to Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Rice, once a leading candidate to become secretary of state in Barack Obama’s second term, was ultimately forced to withdraw herself from consideration for that post, in part due to the firestorms which erupted following her September 16 talk show appearances.

She had entered “The Benghazi Triangle” which, perhaps due to the fierce energies unleashed by the CIA “black operations” there, has been a zone where careers, ambitions, and reputations vanish without a trace.

Preceding Rice’s withdrawal from consideration for the secretary of state position, David Petraeus, the most celebrated general in recent times, had seen his career go up in smoke after entering into “The Benghazi Triangle”. Petraeus had had the temerity to insist on publishing the CIA version of what happened at Benghazi, on November 2, incurring the displeasure of other intelligence chiefs and government officials whose roles in the affair now came more fully into view. Days later, on November 6, 2012, the FBI called James Clapper, the head of the Directorate of National Intelligence (DNI), to inform him that Petraeus had had an affair with Paula Broadwell–which had ended four months earlier.

Clapper, without missing a beat, called Petraeus and urged him to resign.  Petraeus offered his resignation to Obama in a meeting on Thursday, November 8. The president thought about it overnight, and accepted it on Friday, November 9. 

Petraeus, in subsequent testimony before Congress on November 16, made clear that the CIA had not altered “the Benghazi talking points” it had originally prepared, which made specific reference to al-Qaeda affiliates’ participation in the Benghazi attacks on September 11.  This is an interesting point, since Michael Morrell, now Acting Director of the CIA, gave different accounts when meeting with Senators on November 27, 2012.

(An example of the misleading information being supplied to Congress and to the public is provided by the following excerpt from the Christian Sciene Monitor regarding meetings on November 27 of Susan Rice and CIA Acting Director Michael Morell with Republican Senators.)

…Republican senators said the meeting with Rice and Morell left them with more concerns than before. In a statement McCain, Graham and Ayotte said there was now more confusion about who had made changes in the talking points before they were given to Rice.

Morell told the senators during the meeting that the FBI had removed references to al Qaeda from the talking points “and did so to prevent compromising an ongoing criminal investigation” of the attack on the U.S. mission, the statement by McCain, Graham and Ayotte said.

“However, at approximately 4:00 this afternoon, CIA officials contacted us and indicated that Acting Director Morell misspoke in our earlier meeting. The CIA now says that it deleted the al-Qaeda references, not the FBI. They were unable to give a reason as to why,” the statement said (emphasis added).

–Tabassum Zakaria and Susan Cornwell (Reuters),”Controversy over Susan Rice’s Benghazi comments continues,” Christian Science Monitor, November 27, 2012.

See also The Trenchant Observer, “Lies, Spies and Politics: The Incredible Evolution of the Benghazi “Talking Points” Narrative–Part II,” November 27, 2012.

Morrell is reported to be a leading candidate to lead the CIA in Obama’s second term. Whether he can avoid “The Benghazi Triangle” remains to be seen. Certainly, if he is nominated, he will face some sharp questioning at his confirmation hearings.

Secretary of State Clinton avoided testifying about Benghazi in the first round of hearings, in November, due to her travel schedule which placed her out of the country. That schedule, apparently, was more important to her than testifying before Congress about what was arguably the worst foreign policy disaster during her term of office.

Now Clinton, the one key witness who could testify about what she–and President Obama–knew and when they knew it, has fallen and hit her head, suffering a concussion. Consequently, she will be unavailable for this week’s hearings, though she apparently will be working from home.

Everyone hopes she has a speedy recovery. As soon as she is well, the congressional hearings should resume, and she should be called again–for the third time–to provide critical information about what happened in and in relation to Benghazi, and what she and the president knew, and when they knew it.

If these questions are not promptly and satisfactorily answered, they may serve as an epitaph on her term as Secretary of State and all the diligence and hard work she has unquestionably brought to the job. Such an epitaph would undoubtedly affect judgments over the next four years regarding the viability of a Clinton candidacy for president in 2016.

In any event, her career and her reputation are at high risk, as she has ventured into “The Benghazi Triangle”–where careers and reputations vanish without a trace.

The Trenchant Observer