Arnold Ahlert / May 5, 2014

The Truth Matters – Dude

Most Americans know we are a divided nation. Yet last week offered a rare glimpse as to where the real fault line in that division lies. In two separate interviews on the subject of Benghazi, we saw the glaring difference between an America where concepts as respect, honor and decency still have real meaning, and one invested in the kind of terminal adolescence that breeds contempt, arrogance and, ultimately, a poisonous indifference to American exceptionalism. Retired Air Force Brigadier General Robert Lovell is a man of great courage. He was the deputy intelligence director at U.S. Africa Command, and stationed in Germany when the Benghazi attacks unfolded.

Most Americans know we are a divided nation. Yet last week offered a rare glimpse as to where the real fault line in that division lies. In two separate interviews on the subject of Benghazi, we saw the glaring difference between an America where concepts such as respect, honor and decency still have real meaning, and one invested in the kind of terminal adolescence that breeds contempt, arrogance and, ultimately, a poisonous indifference to American exceptionalism.

Retired Air Force Brigadier General Robert Lovell is a man of great courage. He was the deputy intelligence director at U.S. Africa Command, and stationed in Germany when the Benghazi attacks unfolded. In devastating testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Lovell not only took on the deplorable fiction regarding the Obama administration’s claim that the attacks were the result of a “spontaneous” demonstration gone awry, but the equally deplorable assertion made by many of his superiors and even some Republicans, that there was nothing we could do to save Ambassador Chris Stevens, diplomat Sean Smith, and Navy SEALS Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

“The discussion is not in the ‘could or could not’ in relation to time, space and capability, the point is we should have tried,” he testified. “As another saying goes – always move to the sound of the guns.”

In two sentences, Lovell exposed the bankruptcy of the Obama administration, as well as the military chain of command, both of whom are seemingly content with abandoning the warrior code that insists we do not leave our dead and wounded – much less those still fighting for their lives – behind.

The pushback was predictable. “BG Lovell did not serve in a capacity that gave him reliable insight into operational options available to commanders during the attack, nor did he offer specific courses of action not taken,” said Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Lovell admitted as much, but countered with the most obvious rebuttal. “We didn’t know how long this would last when we became aware of the distress nor did we completely understand what we had in front of us, be it a kidnapping, rescue, recovery, protracted hostile engagement or any or all of the above,” he explained.

Read those first eight words again: We didn’t know how long this would last. It is truly remarkable that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, and a host of other military commanders have never been pressed to explain how they could have determined assets that might have made a difference were “too far away,” when they had no idea how long the action in Benghazi would last. We certainly know, courtesy of testimony by Panetta and Dempsey, that Obama was informed of the attack one hour and 18 minutes after it began. We also know, courtesy of declassified testimony by former AFRICOM Commander. Gen. Carter Ham, that he informed the duo just prior to that meeting that there was a “terrorist attack” in progress.

Unsurprisingly, the administration’s defenders point to all the “flaws” regarding the notion that various assets were available, and/or that they could have made a difference. Yet every one of those arguments has been made in hindsight, with full knowledge of the Benghazi timeline after the fact.  We know now the fighting lasted approximately 7-8 hours. What if it had lasted 12-14 hours – or even longer?

Lovell claimed that the State Department never asked the military for backup that evening. “Basically, there was a lot of looking to the State Department for what they wanted and the deference to the Libyan people and the sense of deference to the desires of the State Department in terms of what they would like to have,” he testified. Again McKeon pushed back. “The Armed Services Committee has interviewed more than a dozen witnesses in the operational chain of command that night, yielding thousands of pages of transcripts, e-mails, and other documents,” he said. “We have no evidence that Department of State officials delayed the decision to deploy what few resources DoD had available to respond.”

Excuse me for asking an indelicate question, but why the focus on what the State Department wanted? What about what the Commander-in-Chief wanted? Again, we know neither Panetta or Dempsey ever heard from Obama again after their 5PM meeting. And to this day no one in our “intrepid” media have had the courage to ask the president where he was that night, much less what orders he may or may not have given.

But we do know one thing for certain: at around 10PM EST, while the battle was raging, Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton engaged in a phone conversation. That was a detail provided by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney in Feb. 2013 – and as night follows day, it contradicted an earlier assertion by the White House that Obama hadn’t made any phone calls that night. Carney’s hand had been forced by Clinton’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, when she acknowledged that she was aware of the attack an hour before the president was, and thus, “we were in continuous meetings and conversations, both within the department, with our team in Tripoli, with the interagency and internationally.”

After that, inconvenient reality. “I spoke with President Obama later in the evening to, you know, bring him up to date, to hear his perspective.”

CNS News puts the rest in devastating perspective. “That was more than six hours after the attacks started, more than an hour before Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed – and about the time that Clinton first released a statement linking the attacks to ‘inflammatory material posted on the Internet,’ a reference to an anti-Muslim video on YouTube,” they reported.

Which brings us to the other side of the divide. We now know that caper was a complete fraud, and while Clinton’s despicable dismissal of that fraud, as in her infamous “what difference at this point does it make” testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was bad enough, it pales in comparison to a private conversation she had with Tyrone Woods’ father, Charles. After shaking his hand at a ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base over flag-draped coffins, Clinton told Woods that the administration would “make sure that the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted.”

If America can elect a woman as callous and ethically challenged as that for president, they deserve everything they get.

Yet she is undoubtedly the standard-bearer for Americans like former National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor, who epitomizes the other side of the divide, and the aforementioned terminal adolescence that is an integral part of the progressive mindset. Vietor was interviewed by Fox News’s Bret Baier regarding his role in altering the taking points flacked by Susan Rice on five Sunday talk shows. When Baier pressed Vietor about the alterations, Vietor said he “maybe” changed the word “attacks” to “demonstrations,” but did not “really remember.” Baier was stunned. “You don’t remember?” he asked. “Dude, this was two years ago,” Vietor replied. “We’re still talking about the most mundane thing.”

Thus the deliberate attempt to misinform the nation about murder of four Americans is “the most mundane thing,” expressed in the kind of parlance that undoubtedly appeals to those for whom such concepts as respect in general, and for the dead in particular, are “so yesterday – Dude.” And in case one might be inclined to think Vietor might have had second thoughts about making a complete ass of himself on the national stage, think again. The next day on the Obama News Network more familiarly known as MSNBC, Vietor doubled down, telling host Chris Hayes that Fox News requires that only the “Queen’s English” be used. And just as naturally, a hack like Hayes insisted the only reason Republicans want to get to the bottom of Benghazi is to ruin Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations.

Sorry Chris, but if this is a country where honor and decency still matter, Hillary has done that all on her own.

But then again, that is the central question for our time, isn’t it? Do honor and decency still matter to a majority of Americans? Does the warrior code matter anymore? Or have the people who careen through life with concern for little else but the next distraction, so smugly self-assured of their own superiority that any challenged can be dismissed with surfer boy insolence, assumed the majority?

It’s Robert Lovell versus Tommy Vietor for the heart and soul of our nation – or the preening self-indulgence that would replace it.

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