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Paul Greenberg: What happened at Benghazi?

BY PAUL GREENBERG Published: November 28, 2012

Even days after the attack — or was it more like a week? — Ambassador Rice and Secretary of State Clinton were still emphasizing the supposedly spontaneous nature of the attack at Benghazi without fear of contradiction from the White House. Even now, a shred or two of that old story, full of holes as it is, still surfaces among the administration's defenders.

This vicious assault on our diplomats occurred in the midst of a hard-fought presidential campaign. At the time, Barack Obama was being billed, fairly enough, as the commander in chief who'd succeeded in hunting down terrorist-in-chief Osama bin Laden.

Then came this humiliating news out of Benghazi, just when al-Qaida was supposed to be a spent force. Was that the source of this essentially false narrative about a spontaneous demonstration just getting out of hand? The suspicion is unavoidable and, as the investigations proliferate, will remain in the background as an underlying explanation of this president's changing story about what happened in Benghazi. Cover-ups do tend to unravel. We'll see if that's true in this case.

It's an old rule in the military: A commander is responsible for all his unit does or fails to do, and now this commander in chief, whatever his talk about responsibility, will be held accountable by a judge far more formidable than his political critics or even American public opinion. He will be held responsible before the bar of History.



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