Throughout the Benghazi
witch hunt investigation, Republicans have waved the name of Ambassador Chris Stevens, who died in the attack along with three other Americans, as some sort of rallying cry. Now, apparently having had their fill of GOP nonsense, Stevens’ family is saying in no uncertain terms, “stop it!”
Stevens’ sister, Dr. Anne Stevens, has been the spokesperson for the family throughout the years following the Benghazi attack, and the shameful political grandstanding against the Obama administration, and in particular former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that has followed it. In an interview published on June 28 in The New Yorker, Stevens indicated that she and her family have had enough.
The report from the Republican majority on the House Benghazi committee clears President Obama, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Clinton of any wrongdoing in terms of what could have been done to save the lives of Stevens and the others. But it still criticizes the Obama administration, the Defense Department, and in particular the State Department (and by implication Clinton) for security failures at the Benghazi outpost. Anne Stevens has a different take.
New Yorker writer Robin Wright asked Stevens, “Whom do you fault for the lack of security that resulted in the death of your brother, in Benghazi?”
It is clear, in hindsight, that the facility was not sufficiently protected by the State Department and the Defense Department. But what was the underlying cause? Perhaps if Congress had provided a budget to increase security for all missions around the world, then some of the requests for more security in Libya would have been granted.
She goes on to say that she doesn’t hold Clinton or Panetta at fault and reminds everyone that the ambassador wasn’t ordered to go to the outpost, but that he chose to do so.
I do not blame Hillary Clinton or Leon Panetta. They were balancing security efforts at embassies and missions around the world. And their staffs were doing their best to provide what they could with the resources they had. The Benghazi Mission was understaffed. We know that now. But, again, Chris knew that. It wasn’t a secret to him. He decided to take the risk to go there. It is not something they did to him. It is something he took on himself.
Stevens also indicates how unhappy she is about the way the whole affair has been politicized by Republicans.
Every report I read that mentions him [Ambassador Stevens] specifically has a political bent, an accusatory bent. One point that seems to be brought up again and again is the accusation that the attack was a response to the video. I could understand why that conclusion would be made, because it was right after the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Egypt. But, frankly, it doesn’t matter that that was the thinking, that night, about why the attack occurred. It’s irrelevant to bring that up again and again. It is done purely for political reasons.
The early statements that were made about the attack being in response to an inflammatory anti-Muslim video have been a central focus of Republicans in the various hearings that have been held. The GOP, understanding nothing except politics and power, has been absolutely convinced that had the Obama administration said from day one that Benghazi was a pre-planned terrorist attack, the president would have lost the 2012 election. That, of course, is highly questionable, and Anne Stevens is right — at this point it doesn’t matter whether that was the belief during and immediately after the attack or not.
And Stevens says her brother knew the risks of being in post-Qaddafi Libya.
He did tell us about the dangers then. He told us about a car bomb that had shaken the hotel where he had offices in Benghazi. But, when he talked about incidents like that, he never showed any fear or reluctance to continue the work. He took danger in stride.
It was so important to have a U.S. presence in Benghazi and to show support for the American center being set up and other programs, such as the Benghazi Medical Center. We were helping them establish their new society. I don’t think we’ll ever know why he made the decision to take the risk of going to Benghazi, knowing there were multiple attacks. It was clearly a bad decision.
Throughout the various investigations, Republicans have spoken in reverent tones of Chris Stevens, who they would no doubt have little regard for were he still alive, since he was an Obama appointee. Now Stevens’ family is asking them to stop using his name as a political tool. How the GOP responds to that request will tell us everything about their motives on Benghazi. And we probably already know how that will go.
You can read Dr. Anne Stevens’ full interview here.
Featured image via Justin Sullivan/Getty Images