Donald Rumsfeld, a man who doesn’t mince his words, placed the blame for the Benghazi disaster squarely on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an interview posted by Breitbart TV on Thursday.
Others, like the British government and the International Red Cross, were aware how dangerous Benghazi was and pulled their personnel out, but Clinton insisted on pursuing a diplomatic U.S. presence in Benghazi, but left them practically undefended. After disaster struck on September 11, 2012, she also passed on the blame to four lower level officials in the State Department.
On The Steve Malzberg Show Thursday, Rumsfeld stated:
“In this instance, there was widespread knowledge, as was pointed out by Congressman Issa, the British knew that there were al-Qaeda threats, and they pulled their people out because they knew they couldn’t protect them.”
“Our people knew there were al-Qaeda threats, and they not only did not protect them, but they didn’t pull them out. That, in my view, is a neglect of important responsibilities. The idea that it falls to someone down the line, I think, is a misunderstanding. Clearly, the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the person responsible.”
Rumsfeld’s very reasonable remarks echo findings by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which has released its bipartisan “Review of the Terrorist Attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012.”
The review concluded that the tragic loss of American lives could have been prevented had the warnings of the U.S. Intelligence Community on al-Qaeda activity in Benghazi been heeded and the needs of the Benghazi diplomatic facility given the correct level of urgency by the State Department — which ultimately means the woman at the top of the department, Hillary Clinton.
Not only does Clinton bear responsibility in principle as the head of the U.S. diplomatic service, but she was also in receipt of specific cables and insistent appeals from U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens for additional security for Benghazi in the months and weeks before September 11. Clinton was questioned about these cables in her hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on January 23, 2013, but denied ever having read the emails.
Though Clinton recently stated that she “regrets” Benghazi happened, she has never truly accepted the blame for the loss of four brave American lives.
Thank you to Secretary Rumsfeld for speaking out. A great many Americans share his sentiments.
Helle C. Dale is the Heritage Foundations Senior Fellow in Public Diplomacy studies.
Her current work focuses on the U.S. government’s institutions and programs for strategic outreach to the publics of foreign countries, as well as more traditional diplomacy, critical elements in American global leadership and in the war of ideas against violent extremism.