BY RACHAEL BLANDAU – STAFF WRITER
On September 11, 2012, Islamic militants attacked the American Embassy in Benghazi, Libya, killing four Americans, and causing the attention of the nation to rest on the American government. During the eight-hour siege, the Americans in the consulate were forced to stand alone against the angry mob of Muslim Terrorists. After the attack, the reason the Obama Administration gave was a righteous response to an amateur YouTube video called “Innocence of Muslims” which has since been dismissed altogether as a cause for the siege.
In the years since, the Obama Administration—namely Secretary of State at the time, Hillary Clinton—have been blamed for the consequences of the attack, negligence in ensuring the safety of those in the Consulate, and the apparent cover-up that ensued. Clinton even took responsibility for the deaths of the four Americans, and for sending one of the victims, U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, back to Libya. Republicans maintain that the real cause for the siege was covered up because of its inopportune timing—mere weeks before the 2012 Presidential Election—when President Obama was seeking a second term. They believe that if the Benghazi attacks had come to light at the time, and had been covered by the media, Obama would not have won the election.
This brings us to where we stand today. Despite the fact that three years have passed, and America has basically forgotten about Benghazi, Republicans continued to press for a hearing where they could question Clinton on her part in the attack and her actions in the months that followed. Clinton acquiesced, leading to the October 22 marathon testimony where Clinton, the one person called to testify, spoke for nearly 11 hours straight. The hearing was politically charged, with the Committee’s questions ranging from insinuating guilt to pure redundancy, yet Clinton kept calm and continued to answer with respect, even with minor disdain. Republicans took the opportunity to question other hang-ups, such as her email controversy.
The aims of this Committee aren’t clear, which even members of the committee agree with. Representative Adam Schiff told NBC’s Meet the Press, “We don’t know what we’re looking for, we can’t put an end date on it because we don’t know what this committee is supposed to look for. Apart from damaging Hillary Clinton, it has no reason for existence.” This would point to the Democrats’ argument that this Committee’s aims are nothing but a witch-hunt.
However, it would be unfair to say that there is no reason for the trial to happen. Benghazi was a tragedy, and it is obvious that Hillary Clinton was involved in it—maybe less than her adversaries blame her for, but she admits that she was indeed involved.
“I think that the objective goal of the House committee is not unreasonable, to keep the Americans safer when they are posted abroad,” Assistant Professor of Politics Dr. Benjamin Knoll said. “That being said, the method in which the committee has organized its efforts does seem to have a clear sub-adjective, dealing with the current Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, that the committee waited for several months when they could have done it in the spring, trying to push it closer to the primary [elections]. “
So, while this 11-hour testimony may not be classified as witch-hunt, it is obvious that there could be ulterior motives at play. Although many of Clinton’s faults were aired before the country, Clinton wasn’t moved, and, in fact she might’ve gained support with the Presidential way she handled the onslaught. They gave her a unique, 11-hour advertisement that highlighted her intelligence and grace under pressure. Instead of giving her campaign a huge hit, and causing her polling numbers to take a nosedive, they made her seem more Presidential and caused a rise in her numbers and a rise in Campaign donations.
Can this second Benghazi hearing be seen as a success? Not really. For her adversaries, they did not succeed in causing her popularity to take a nosedive prior to the Primary elections. For those genuinely interested in what happened in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012, it wasn’t much of a success either—nothing new was said, no new information came to light, and the trial seemed to stagnate before it had even really begun. However, if you are Hillary Clinton or one of her supporters, it was a very good day that could lead to an upswing in her campaign. What could have been an unmitigated disaster turned into a roaring success.