The Conversation

Hillary Clinton Says Benghazi Attack Was 'Unpredictable' and 'Unforeseen' Event

Hillary Clinton expressed regret Monday for the failure in Benghazi even as she continued to suggest it was an "unpredictable" event. The Senate intelligence committee report published earlier this months concluded the attack was preventable.

Asked if she had any regrets about her term as Secretary of State, Hillary responded "Sure, I mean..." before pausing for a couple seconds. Eventually Hillary would cite the Benghazi attack as her biggest regret but only after framing it an "unforeseen" consequence and an "unpredictable" event.

"You know you make these choices based on imperfect information and you make them, as we say, to the best of your ability but that doesn't mean that there's not going to be unforeseen consequences, unpredictable twists and turns. You know, my biggest regret is what happened in Benghazi."

Less than two weeks ago the Senate Intelligence Committee issued a report which concluded that the attack in Benghazi was preventable. The attack was preventable because it was not unforeseen or unpredicted. That's why finding #1 (of 14) in the bipartisan report stated "In the months before the attack on September 11, 2012, the IC [intelligence community] provided ample strategic warning that the security situation in eastern Libya was deteriorating and that U.S. facilities and personnel were at risk in Benghazi."

Ample warning means there was more than enough. It wasn't just one hint in a haystack of routine paperwork. The Senate report goes on to say that the IC produced "hundreds of analytic reports" prior to the attack which warned about militias and terrorists who intended to strike the U.S. in Libya. The report lists 7 examples including a June 12 report titled "Libya: Terrorists Now Targeting U.S. and Western Interests."

Greater militancy and attacks on western and U.S. targets were predicted. Not only that, they happened. The UK, the Red Cross, the UN all suffered attacks in the months prior to 9/11. That's why finding #5 in the Senate report says the U.S. did not respond appropriately to "tripwires" being crossed when other nations decided to abandon Libya because of the increased militancy.

Granted there was no specific warning of a coming attack on a specific day at the Benghazi consulate. That was lacking. But the Senate report makes clear that the stacks of warnings about what was happening in the entire country and in Benghazi in particular should have been enough to indicate it could happen at any time.

It was in light of all of these warnings that the Senate report faulted the State Department's refusal to acknowledge requests for additional security or to make more than minimal security improvements to the Benghazi compound. This failure to take the warnings seriously took place even as the CIA annex located a mile away underwent a major security upgrade in response to the exact same information. Somehow the CIA got message that trouble was on the horizon even as the State Department did not.

Hillary Clinton has gone from saying "What difference at this point does it make" to saying Benghazi is her biggest regret. But she has still not absorbed the message of the bipartisan Senate report issued earlier this month: The attack in Benghazi was not unpredictable it was preventable. The problem is that Clinton's State Department did little to prevent it. And yet, incredibly, no one has been fired for the failure which led to four deaths.


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