Senator Dianne Feinstein (D – CA), Chairman of the Senate Select Inelligence Committee, defended former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on criticism relating to the latest Benghazi report coming out of the committee laying blame on the State Department for not providing enough security for the U.S. compound in Benghazi before the deadly attack in 2012.
“I want the record to be clear: I condemn any effort to use this report for political purposes,” said Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
She was referring to remarks from Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) on the Senate floor on Thursday that were critical of the role Clinton, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, for not doing enough to prevent the attack.
“Statements on the Senate floor this morning and some media reports about the Senate Intelligence Committee’s bipartisan report on the attack against our diplomatic mission and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya, intimate that the report assigns culpability to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the tragedy,” Feinstein said.
She added: “The report approved on a bipartisan basis says no such thing. As a matter of fact, Secretary Clinton is not mentioned a single time in the 58-page bipartisan section of our Benghazi report.”
She pointed to six unnamed Republican senators, saying they were adding “additional views” on the report.
But are Republicans’ criticism of her handling of Benghazi the only problem Clinton may have when it comes to her 2016 presidential aspirations? Vice President Joe Biden wants the Oval Office just as much as Clinton and the GOP. It should be noted that Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, was appointed by Biden in February of 2013.
Sullivan previously worked at the State Department where he served as the Director of Policy Planning and Deputy Chief of Staff to Clinton. Sullivan was part of the Benghazi e-mail “talking points” chain. He suggested the facility in Benghazi be referred to as a “mission” or “diplomatic post” as opposed to a “consulate.” The naming of the facility in Benghazi is important as security standards may have been lowered as a result. Fox News reported:
What’s clear is that Benghazi was not referred to as a consulate in the “Action Memo for Under Secretary Kennedy” by Feltman. The omission may have exempted it from mandatory physical security standards.
In fact, the recently released “talking points” emails show that the State Department was insistent that the White House not refer to Benghazi as a consulate. Instead, policy adviser Jacob Sullivan said it should be called a “mission” or “diplomatic post.”
Both Kennedy and Feltman signed the Dec. 27, 2011 memo titled: “Future of Operations in Benghazi.”
The document also indicates that the CIA and State Department operations were separate, undercutting reports that the Benghazi mission was a cover for the agency’s activities which included the rounding up of loose weapons after the fall of the Libyan dictator. The action memo notes that the “State presence cannot be accommodated at the annex and the current State facility is not large enough to permit co-location.”
If Biden and Clinton go head to head in the next Democratic Presidential primary, Sullivan will have to choose sides. The question, however, is: has he already?