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Sep. 17, 2014

The Only Transparent Thing About Benghazi Is the Cover-Up

A new report shows that Hillary Clinton’s advisers selectively sorted documents for review.

Two years ago, jihadis attacked the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya, killing four Americans – U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, his aid Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. No doubt Hillary Clinton wishes the American people would just forget what happened that night. After all, not only has it been two years since the attacks but it’s only two years until the 2016 election. And getting to the truth might impinge on valuable campaign time.

A new Benghazi bombshell reported by investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson has just made Hillary Clinton’s political life – and presidential campaign prospects – a bit more problematic. According to former State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Raymond Maxwell, who was punished and then cleared of wrongdoing surrounding the failures in Benghazi, high level State Department officials took decisive action as events unfolded – not in getting to the bottom of the attacks, but in purging State Department records of any documents that might make Clinton look bad.

Mere weeks after the Benghazi attacks, the Accountability Review Board (ARB), which was investigating the attacks, asked the State Department to turn over relevant documents. According to the State Department, employees were ordered to cooperate “fully and promptly” with ARB’s request. Of course, this is the same State Department that blamed a coordinated terror attack on a YouTube video, scapegoating one amateur filmmaker for an entire administration’s incompetence, so naturally the whole “fully and promptly” claim should be taken with a spoonful of salt.

No, make that a boatload of salt. According to Maxwell, before ARB ever got its hands on those relevant documents, key State employees held an secretive basement meeting, where they combed through documents to remove anything incriminating before turning the docs over to ARB. Maxwell heard about the meeting and, on showing up uninvited, was told by an office director close to Clinton’s top advisers that the plan was to “go through these stacks and pull out anything that might put anybody in the [Near Eastern Affairs] front office or the seventh floor in a bad light.” The “seventh floor” was a reference to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Attkisson reports that soon after, two high-ranking State Department officials, former White House counsel and Hillary Clinton’s Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, and Deputy Chief of Staff Jake Sullivan, joined the “meeting,” seemingly to see how things were going, then left.

In other words, the ARB, which, incidentally, never bothered to interview several of the most obvious sources, including Hillary Clinton, also may have been given documents that were purged of key information. We can’t help but ask: Among the 29 recommendations ARB issued to the State Department following the investigation, was “do not destroy evidence” one of them?

It’s disgraceful that, two years after the attack on a U.S. Embassy and the murder of four Americans, those who seem least interested in finding the truth are those in this administration and those who led the State Department at the time of the attacks. But then again, that’s not surprising. After all, the photo-op with those four, flag-draped caskets has passed.

Barack Obama pledged the utmost transparency, but the only transparent thing is that truth means nothing to this administration.

Thankfully, the House Select Committee on Benghazi, chaired by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), will be investigating Maxwell’s allegations. And among the questions the Committee will ask, “What difference does it make?” will not be one of them.

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