The Edmond Sun


August 23, 2013

Hold someone accountable for Benghazi

EDMOND — An item in the news this week has me reflecting on the term “whitewash.” The dictionary defines whitewash as “… Anything, as deceptive words or actions, used to cover up or gloss over faults, errors or wrongdoings, or absolve a wrongdoer from blame … An act or campaign to cover up something bad.” As early as 1591, the term appears in print to describe a cheap white paint used to cover up some architectural defect.

Apparently, unscrupulous property owners who didn’t want to incur the time, trouble and expense necessary to fix their problem would simply cover them with cheap paint to deceive anyone who might be interested in the building’s condition. Whitewash is a cheap effective way to conceal troublesome facts, as long as no one bothers to find out what’s under the painted surface.

Why are we thinking about whitewash this week? On Tuesday, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf announced the four State Department employees suspended in the aftermath of the attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi last year have been cleared of any wrongdoing and returned to service in the State Department somewhere.

To date, not a single employee of the State Department has been “held accountable” for any aspect of the tragedy in Benghazi. There are three possible explanations: everyone in the State Department executed their responsibilities in a perfectly competent fashion and, there’s no reason to call anyone to account. Or, these four acted appropriately and the real culprits are sure to be found out and exposed. Or, this is a shameless whitewash and those responsible are being protected by a cloak of cowardice, dishonesty and shameful disloyalty.

Let’s take a moment to review. In the months, weeks and days prior to the attack, our ambassador and others took affirmative unequivocal steps to notify Washington that the Benghazi facilities were vulnerable to a terrorist attack. Ambassador Chris Stevens went through correct State Department channels to ask that someone in Washington approve a request for additional security personnel. These requests were denied.

When our diplomatic facilities came under attack, Ambassador Stevens and others notified Washington and requested assistance. The messages went through and were, presumably, heard loud and clear at the highest levels of our government. These calls for help, tragically, went unanswered.

Ambassador Stevens died early in the attack. After a firefight lasting at least seven hours, three more brave Americans died. At some point early in the attack, reinforcements were notified of the situation and prepared to pull out all stops to get fighting men on the scene in order to support our people who were battling for their lives. Someone ordered those fighting reinforcements to “stand down.” Help never came in time.

On the night of the tragedy, our president, we are told, was being kept informed of the situation. Apart from “being informed,” we have no idea whether he actually did anything.

We do know he left the next day for a fundraiser in Las Vegas.

The State Department knew from the outset this was a terrorist attack planned, coordinated and executed by Al Qaeda affiliates. When Susan Rice, on the president’s behalf, spoke to the American people, she portrayed the attack as a consequence of demonstrations prompted by a video that got out of hand. This was a patent distortion of the truth. To date, not one person has been held accountable for the decision to substitute a bogus narrative rather than tell the American people the disturbing facts. There are two possible explanations; the real decision-maker is so camouflaged in thick layers of “CYA” bureaucratic shenanigans that his or her identity will never be discovered. Or, the State Department and the administration are well aware of exactly who made the decision but the embarrassing truth is being covered over by whitewash.

Let’s look beneath the whitewash and demand some responsibility. Whoever made the decision to deny the request for additional security at Benghazi breached a duty to Ambassador Stevens and the others who died that night. Someone must be accountable.

Whoever made the decision to order life-saving reinforcements to “stand down,” may have breached a duty to those who died late in the siege. The families and the American people are entitled to know the facts so we can determine for ourselves whether someone should be held accountable.

There is no doubt, in the aftermath of the attack, the American people were intentionally misled about the nature of that attack. Someone must be accountable. If the American people passively permit these politicians and bureaucrats to get away with it, we too are participants in the whitewash.

I’m Hink and I’ll see ya.


MIKE HINKLE is a retired attorney and Edmond resident.

Text Only
  • Free trade on steroids: The threat of the Trans-Pacific Partnership

    Many supporters of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, trade agreement are arguing that its fate rests on President Obama’s bilateral talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan this week. If Japan and the United States can sort out market access issues for agriculture and automobiles, the wisdom goes, this huge deal — in effect, a North American Free Trade Agreement on steroids — can at last be concluded.

    April 22, 2014

  • Can Hillary Clinton rock the cradle and the world?

    What's most interesting to contemplate is the effect becoming a grandmother will have on Hillary's ambition. It's one of life's unfairnesses that a woman's peak career years often coincide with her peak childbearing years.

    April 22, 2014

  • Chicago Tribune: If Walgreen Co. moves its HQ to Europe, blame Washington’s tax failure

    The Walgreen Co. drugstore chain got its start nearly a century ago in downstate Dixon, Ill., before moving its corporate headquarters to Chicago and eventually to north suburban Deerfield, Ill.
    Next stop? Could be Bern, Switzerland.
    A group of shareholders reportedly is pressuring the giant retail chain for a move to the land of cuckoo clocks. The reason: lower taxes. Much lower taxes.
    If Walgreen changes its legal domicile to Switzerland, where it recently acquired a stake in European drugstore chain Alliance Boots, the company could save big bucks on its corporate income-tax bill. The effective U.S. income-tax rate for Walgreen, according to analysts at Swiss Bank UBS: 37 percent. For Alliance Boots: about 20 percent.

    April 21, 2014

  • Sulphur a future major tourist destination?

    Greta Garbo says, “I want to be alone,” in the 1932 film “Grand Hotel.” That MGM film starred Garbo, John and Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery and a young actress from Lawton named Joan Crawford. It told the stories of several different people who were staying at an exclusive hotel of that name in Berlin Germany.
    It was critically well received and it inspired more recent films such as “Gosford Park” and television shows such as “Downton Abbey” in that it detailed the relationship between powerful and wealthy people and those who served them. The film opened amidst much fanfare and it received the Oscar for best picture in the year of its release.

    April 21, 2014

  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Why poverty across the world matters to Americans

    A child starving in South Sudan should matter to Americans. That was the message delivered last week by Nancy Lindborg, whose job at the U.S. Agency for International Development is to lead a federal bureau spreading democracy and humanitarian assistance across the world.
    That world has reached a critical danger zone, with three high-level crises combining military conflict with humanitarian catastrophes affecting millions of innocents in Syria, the South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
    But back to that child.

    April 18, 2014

  • Government leadership complicit in overfilling prisons

    One of the thorniest problems facing any society is the question of what to do with transgressors. Obviously, the more complicated a culture becomes, the more factors come into play in trying to figure out what to do with those who choose not to “play by the rules.”

    April 18, 2014

  • My best days are ones normal people take for granted

    It is a weekend for working around the house. My fiancee, Erin, and I have the baby’s room to paint and some IKEA furniture to assemble. I roll out of bed early — 10:30 — and get into my wheelchair. Erin is already making coffee in the kitchen.
    “I started the first wall,” she says. “I love that gray.” Erin never bugs me about sleeping late. For a few months after I was injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, I often slept 15 hours a day. The doctors said my body needed to heal. It must still be healing because I hardly ever see 8 a.m. anymore.

    April 18, 2014

  • Instead of mothballing Navy ships, give them to our allies

    A bitter debate has raged in the Pentagon for several months about the wisdom of taking the nuclear aircraft carrier George Washington out of service to save money. The Washington, at 24 years old a relatively young vessel, is due for a costly refit, a routine procedure that all of the 11 large carriers in service undergo regularly.

    April 18, 2014

  • The pessimist’s guide to grizzly bears and Earth Day

    This coming Friday, to “celebrate Earth Day,” the Walt Disney Co. will release one of those cutesy, fun-for-all-ages, nature documentaries. “Bears” is about grizzly bears.
    The trailer says, “From DisneyNature comes a story that all parents share. About the love, the joy, the struggle and the strength it takes to raise a family.”
    Talk about your misguided “Hollywood values.” I previously have acknowledged a morbid, unreasonable fear of grizzly bears, stemming from a youth misspent reading grisly grizzly-attack articles in Readers Digest. This fear is only morbid and unreasonable because I live about 1,500 miles from the nearest wild grizzly bear. Still. ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Digging out of the CIA-Senate quagmire

    Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., voted to declassify parts of its report on the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program. The White House, the CIA and the Senate still have to negotiate which portions of the report will be redacted before it is made public. But this is an important step in resolving the ugly dispute that has erupted between the intelligence committee and the intelligence agency.
    The dispute presents two very serious questions. Was the program consistent with American values and did it produce valuable intelligence? And is effective congressional oversight of secret activities possible in our democracy?

    April 15, 2014


Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

     View Results