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Revelations in Wednesday's congressional hearings on the Benghazi terrorist attacks prove it is a massive scandal that will carry significant consequences for those involved in the cover-up, according to retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney.
McInerney served at the highest levels in the Air Force, including time as assistant vice chief of staff and vice commander in chief of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe. He believes the Obama administration deliberately misled the American people on the motivation for the attack and is now covering its tracks on decisions to prevent a military rescue in Benghazi. He told WND that is more clear than ever following Wednesday's testimony of former Deputy Chief of Mission Gregory Hicks and two others before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
"This is going to be the biggest scandal. It is going to make Watergate look like kindergarten because Watergate was primarily limited to the Oval Office. This cuts across the whole national security apparatus, where people were lying and covering up," McInerney said. "It is a dereliction of duty that this nation has never seen before."
So what consequences could that mean for the highest levels of the administration?
"Well, just see what the consequences were in Watergate. If it's far worse than Watergate, the consequences will go right into the Oval Office," he said.
McInerney said the tell-tale sign of Obama's dereliction of duty can be determined in the admitted White House narrative of the president's actions as the terrorist attack played out the night of Sept. 11, 2012.
"When is the exact minute he knew? We don't have the timeline, and it was well before the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff went over there. He only talked to the secretary of defense one time, so it's obvious he knew that he had given the stand-down order and did not need to talk to the secretary of defense or anybody else after that," McInerney said. "Then he goes the next day out on a fundraising campaign to Las Vegas. That is a low for the commander in chief of this great nation."
He also insists the stand-down order could only come from one source: the president himself.
"The only person who could have given it was the president, and he had to give it through the secretary of defense, secretary of state. The word came out so it came from the combatant commands and other unites below, but nobody could have given that except the president of the United States, and that is very clear," said McInerney, who noted that the State Department's own Accountability Review Board likely reached a similar conclusion in its report, which is why so few have seen it and the leaders of that study refuse to appear before Congress. McInerney believes they should be subpoenaed.
While he believes Obama has a lot to answer for, McInerney made it clear that many top-level subordinates deserve a lot of the blame too, and that's what makes the scandal so troubling.
"It's going to have significant consequences because it impacts two CIA directors, two secretaries of state, two chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, two secretaries of defense that are all involved now with the cover-up," he said.
The general also singled out former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her comment at congressional hearings in January in which she bristled severely at accusations the administration concocted a plan to blame the attack on a spontaneous demonstration over an anti-Islam YouTube video that got out of hand. Clinton slammed Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, saying, "What difference, at this point, does it make?"
McInerney sees that as a low point in American history.
"That is one of the most despicable statements that any American has said about such a tragic incident when you lose people like that. It makes a huge difference that our troops know that they will always be protected as much as they can and we'll do anything to protect them," he said. "She says, what difference does it make? That will live with her til the day she dies. I can tell you, all the people I know, both active and retired, think that is one of the most despicable statements we have ever heard a civilian leader say in our country's history."
McInerney said the administration's story is full of holes on a number of fronts, including the narrative about the supposed video protests. But the general said his own experience serving in that theater convinces him there was plenty of time and opportunity to deploy U.S. forces to protect Americans in Benghazi.
"We have never done that, that I know, in our military history, where we just abandoned and did not try to send in rescue forces. They could have gotten there from Aviano (Air Base in Italy) the F-16s. I used to fly F-16s out of Aviano when I was vice commander in chief of U.S. Air Forces in Europe. I know that scene very well. They could have made it. They said they didn't have tankers. They could have dropped their tanks. They could have recovered at a nearby Italian air base on an island," he said.
"So it is unacceptable to me that we didn't send those forces from Tripoli that we had there. We didn't send F-16s and the FEST team to go in and to try to rescue those people. That was unacceptable, but from the get-go they had a narrative that they wanted to stick with that was a political narrative that the war was over, they had defeated al-Qaida," he said.