WASHINGTON – After all is said and done, the Benghazi scandal boils down to just the same two key questions as those in the Watergate scandal: What did the president know? And, when did he know it?
That’s according to a man who used to guard the president for a living, former secret service agent Dan Bongino, author of the WND bestseller, “Life Inside the Bubble,” and current candidate to represent Maryland in Congress.
Bongino strongly suggested the answers to those questions will show President Obama just as responsible for the scandal as President Nixon was for his. The difference was, he said, people died in Benghazi.
Parodying the phrase used by former Secretary of Stare Hillary Clinton, Bongino rhetorically asked, “What difference does it make?” He then answered by saying four men were killed and nothing was done to help them.
The man who used to personally guard the president was one of more than a dozen expert panelists convened by the Heritage Foundation and the Benghazi Accountability Coalition for a four-hour examination of the scandal called, “Benghazi: The Difference it Makes is Accountability.”
The purpose of the live-streamed conference was to inform Americans of details they have not heard from the establishment media and to provide information for the House select committee on Benghazi to be chaired by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C.
Bongino called it “media malpractice of the highest order” that the most basic questions were not asked, and that the real conspiracy was the establishment media silence.
He promised he would stop talking about the anti-Islamic video the administration has tried to blame for the attack, if the mainstream media would find the answer to one question: “Where was the president on the night of the attack?”
“We know he was not in the situation room, thanks to Tommy Vietor, the ‘Benghazi was like two years ago, dude.’ And the situation room is where situations (like this) are handled.”
Retired Army Gen. Jerry Boykin said he was tired of hearing that U.S. rescue forces couldn’t have arrived on time and there was no way to save the four Americans who died in Benghazi that night.
“This is not just about lives lost,” he said. “This is about who we are. We have a fundamental ethos. We don’t leave people behind.”
Boykin said critics had asked him whether that applied to Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was swapped for five top Taliban commanders.
“A deserter is not a fallen comrade. There’s a big difference,” he instructed the audience, who responded with an enthusiastic round of applause.
Boykin described the history of how the U.S. military created special rescue forces, after the failed rescue attempt of the U.S. hostages in Iran, under President Jimmy Carter.
“We let four people die without any effort to save or retrieve them,” he said. “We had forces designed for this kind of situation, so what happened? Why was there no response?”
Frank Gaffney, an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, said blaming the attack by well-organized terrorists on a spontaneous uprising of people upset over a video was “a singular affront to intelligence of the American people.”
He said the president himself blamed the video while speaking to the United Nations “weeks after it was known to be untrue,” and he also noted the president told the U.N., “The future must not belong to those who slander the name of the prophet of Islam.” Gaffney said that was the sort of statement you could find on an al-Qaida website.
Gaffney then predicted, if the current Democratic efforts to change the First Amendment were successful, they wouldn’t just limit free speech, they would also make insults to Islam against the law.
Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas G. McInerney said there was one very big difference between Benghazi and Watergate: President Nixon’s scandal was limited to the White House. The general said the Benghazi cover-up cuts across the entire executive branch, including the State Department, FBI, Justice Department, National Security Council, CIA and elements of the military.
However, he added, he knew of members of special operations forces, forced by the administration to sign nondisclosure agreements, who were just aching to be subpoenaed by the Gowdy committee so they could tell lawmakers what they know.
Gowdy has famously asked the media: If all the Benghazi questions have been answered, could any of them say why U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed by terrorists, was in the obscure diplomatic compound that night?
McInerney said his understanding was Stevens was helping facilitate a covert gun-running scheme, with the U.S. government supplying arms from Libya to rebels in Syria, via Turkey.
He believes the 30 CIA agents on the ground in Benghazi during the time of the attack, as well as special operations and State Department personnel, were sworn to secrecy, but the logjam of information will break once they are subpoenaed.
He predicts the truth will come out, and when it does the American people will be outraged that they were lied to.
Former U.S. Attorney Joe diGenova said another reason the truth hasn’t come out is because the nation has an incurious media that operate as “flacks” for the administration.
Nearly all the panelists expressed dismay and outrage that the administration did nothing to save the lives of the four Americans who died during the attack on the compound on the night of Sept. 11, 2012.
DiGenova said the problem is no one would stand up to the president and tell him to send help.
His voice rising with indignation, diGenova declared, “Everybody knew what was going on that night. The question was who had b-lls that night? A lot of people didn’t have the b-lls and didn’t do their jobs.”
His voice rising to a crescendo, the attorney scornfully declared, “These people actually went home and went to bed, and people died.” The remark elected an emotional round of applause from the 200 people gathered at the Washington, D.C., hall to watch the panel.
For former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, the bottom line was that Americans came under attack and no one came to help.
McCarthy, who successfully prosecuted the perpetrators of the first attack on the World Trade Center, also noted, “Less than 24 hours after a humiliating defeat at the hands of al-Qaida and the murder of our ambassador,” Obama told a fundraiser in Las Vegas during the stretch run of his 2012 re-election campaign that bin Laden was dead and al-Qaida was on the run. That observation prompted more applause and howls of outrage.
Gaffney said the reason there was such poor security at the Benghazi compound was because of politics, and the president’s need to sell his contention that Libya was a success following the ouster of despot Muammar Gadhafi.
Gaffney said it was part of a larger problem, funding and arming jihadist “people who make no secret of wanting to destroy us,” leading Obama to five years of “policy error of unspeakable danger.”
By way of example, he said, it appears we were arming the people now invading Iraq, and Stevens’ last official act was apparently meeting with the Turkish consul general as part of the gun-running operation.
Gaffney added the problem was compounded by a spectacularly incurious media who have not asked what the president was doing the night of the attack, where he was or whether he asked any other governments for any hep rescuing Americans.
In fact, when video surfaced showing people dragging Stevens’ body through the streets, the administration claimed they were trying to help him, even though they were chanting, “Praise to Allah,” and the media never bothered to question it.
Democrats say all the Benghazi questions have been answered, but Gaffney said they’ve never even been asked.
In conclusion, former prosecutor McCarthy advised Gowdy’s committee “don’t go dark,” and keep putting out information, keep the issue in the spotlight.
Otherwise, he warned, the Democrats will fill the void with accusations of witch hunts.
That is one reason for the Benghazi Accountability Coalition, he said, to keep the truth from getting buried under propaganda.
McCarthy is the chairman of the coalition. He asks Americans to stay informed and participate in keeping the pressure on the Obama administration by going to the coalition’s website.