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Crises: Don't be outraged, just tell the truth
Charles Krauthammer's op-ed column on Redacted truth, subjunctive outrage.

Date published: 5/19/2013

WASHINGTON

--Note to GOP re Benghazi: Stop calling it Watergate, Iran-Contra, bigger than both, etc. First, it might well be, but we don't know. History will judge. Second, overhyping will only diminish the importance of the scandal if it doesn't meet presidency-breaking standards. Third, focusing on the political effects simply plays into the hands of Democrats desperately claiming that this is nothing but partisan politics.

Let the facts speak for themselves. They are damning enough. Let Gregory Hicks, the honorable, apolitical second-in-command that night in Libya, movingly and grippingly demolish the president's Benghazi mantra that "what I have always tried to do is just get all the facts" and "every piece of information that we got, as we got it, we laid it out for the American people."

On the contrary. Just hours into the Benghazi assault, Hicks reported, by phone to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton herself, on the attack with absolutely no mention of any demonstration or video, later to become the essence of the Susan Rice talking points that left him "stunned" and "embarrassed."

But Hicks is then ordered not to meet with an investigative congressional delegation. And when he speaks with them nonetheless, he gets a furious call from Clinton's top aide for not having a State Department lawyer (and informant) present. His questions about the Rice testimony are met with a stone-cold response, sending the message--don't go there. He then finds himself demoted.

Get the facts and get them out? It wasn't just Hicks. Within 24 hours, the CIA station chief in Libya cabled that it was a terrorist attack and not a spontaneous mob. On Day Two, the acting assistant secretary of state for the Near East wrote an email saying the attack was carried out by an al-Qaida affiliate, Ansar al-Sharia.

What were the American people fed? Four days and 12 drafts later, a fiction about a demonstration that never was, provoked by a video that no one saw (Hicks: "a non-event in Libya"), about a movie that was never made.


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