Published at FORBES with archives. A shortened
version was published in The Tennessean, Sunday, May 12, 2013. by Richard J. Grant When our political leaders tell us lies, we can forgive them
when they do so for clear national security reasons. That is, when they lie to
protect us, not merely to protect themselves. We can also forgive error when it is not due to negligence or
incompetence. Uncertainty dogs our decisions at the best of times, but during
an emergency requiring immediate action the uncertainty can bite hard.
The official immediate response (or lack of response) to the
September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi might have been
explained away retrospectively as an attempt to minimize losses. It might be
argued that fewer Americans would have died in the attacks had everyone obeyed
orders to stand down. A decision based on this belief would be forgivable,
unless those in charge should have made a better assessment of the full context
and had a better knowledge of the capabilities of available assets.
It seemed obvious at the time that not only had the rescue
been botched by decision-makers at the highest level, but also the situation
arose because an American ambassador was inadequately protected on hostile
territory. Eight months later, with new information finally coming out, it
appears that the obvious was true.
It had also been obvious that the Obama administration, which
was two months away from an uncertain reelection, wanted the whole issue to go
away. Clearly the events did not fit with the campaign narrative, and release
of the full facts would have jeopardized the president's reelection.
By the time our ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, appeared on
several Sunday television programs to assert that the Benghazi consulate attack
was a spontaneous reaction to a video offensive to Muslims, the absurdity of
this claim should have been obvious to her and to everyone else. Now, eight
months later, few question that the narrative was false.
Assessment of the response to the security failure remains
important but is necessarily overshadowed by the question of who tried to cover
it up. The two are inseparable.
Some might also be surprised by the smoothness with which the
Obama administration shifted into cover-up mode. But there was no shift
necessary. Given the administration's transformative social and economic
agenda, the resulting state of constant policy failure makes necessary a
constant state of cover-up.
Four years after the official end of the last recession,
economic growth remains below our long-term average and joblessness remains
high. As cover, the fact that we are no longer at the bottom is hailed as a
policy achievement. The so-called stimulus programs and assistance packages,
far from helping, have delayed recovery, weakened civil society, and hindered
economic progress. The Obama administration's complicity in the stagnation must
be denied, not for our benefit, but for theirs.
It is no accident that the response of the Obama
administration (and many predecessors) to any perceived problem, especially
healthcare costs and financial market reforms, resulted in bigger and more
intrusive government. In the course of enhancing their own power, they create
the very problems from which they pretend to protect us.
As Friedrich Hayek warned 70 years ago, the propaganda
necessary to support the transfer of power from civil society to central
government “is destructive of all morals” because it undermines one of their
foundations: “the sense of and respect for truth.”
Members of Congress have been trying for several months to
get the facts on the Benghazi fiasco. In a classic evasion of responsibility
and reality, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked, “What difference
does it make?” Alas, the truth is not her friend.