Mark Steyn On The New Benghazi Select Committee, And The True Partisanship Of The Whole Benghazi Fiasco
HH: It’s Draft Day, and with the first selection in the first round of the draft of the Hugh Hewitt Show, we select Mark Steyn of Canada, lately playing out of New Hampshire. Mark Steyn can be found, all things Steyn at www.steynonline.com. I’m sure he’s going to be watching the NFL Draft. I actually don’t think you’re an NFL draft kind of guy, are you, Mark Steyn?
MS: No, I must say I’m with the Taliban on…oh, no, the Taliban banned cricket. I’m not with the Taliban. But I’m with the Afghans in that I have a preference for cricket, and even buzkashi, the thing they play with the goat carcass than the NFL. I hate to come all unassimilated with you, but I think with sports, it’s what you get into at the age of seven or eight that sticks with you.
HH: You know, there’s a new movie from Disney coming out that is going to try and make Americans interested in cricket. Do you think that’s possible?
MS: Well, it’s fascinating, isn’t it, because there really, the only English-speaking countries that aren’t interested in cricket…and you know, I think, I mean, soccer has proved a tough sell. Do you remember, I think it was in 2004 or 2002, somewhere around there, when the United States was in danger of winning the soccer World Cup, and nobody in America, unless you were a close relative of the team members, knew about it? I mean, I went into the sports bar, I think, when America was in the semi-final, thinking that everyone would be kind of tuned to cheer on Team USA, and they were all watching like the Golden Girls rerun on channel 647. They would do anything other than follow soccer. And if soccer is a tough sell, and then I think cricket will be even more so.
HH: Well, today is not only the NFL Draft, and I am in Ohio for the NFL Draft, and Columbus with Rick Santorum, it is also the day that the select committee on Benghazi is formally brought into being. Do you think that those proceedings will be more interesting than the average cricket match?
MS: Well, Benghazi is more important. Benghazi is, not a lot of U.S. ambassadors get killed in the line of duty.
MS: If you discount the poor fellow who was on the plane with General Zia in Pakistan when that mysteriously blew up in mid-flight, you have to go back to Kabul over 30 years ago for the killing of a U.S. ambassador. So it happens extremely rarely. And when it does happen, and the United States Government lies to its own people about the reason why it happened, that’s a serious thing. And I think the lie is the serious business here. When, in free societies, when the government lies to you consciously and deliberately, they’re treating you with contempt. So it’s not really a partisan issue, because if you’re a liberal, and you’re a Democrat, and you’re defending the public statements of the Obama administration in the days and weeks after Benghazi happening, including the President’s quite disgraceful speech to the U.N. General Assembly, when he said that the future shall not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam, in other words, he was so wedded to this fake narrative that he was prepared to offer up the 1st Amendment and freedom of speech as a sacrifice to it. If you’re a Democrat or you’re a liberal, and you sign onto this, you’re accepting the right of your guys to treat you with contempt, because that’s what they’re doing. When democratic societies, when the leaders of free societies lie to their people, they’re treating their peoples with contempt. They’re treating them as subjects, not citizens.
HH: You know, we had Brian Lamb in studio on Tuesday for three hours, and during the breaks, Duane and I were lobbying him to get C-SPAN3 to commit to carry these gavel to gavel, because I believe there is an intense, immense amount of interest in this story for the reason you just touched on, not just the American ambassador being murdered, but who murdered him, what happened in the cover-up, the fact that brave SEALs did not have aid sent to their side in the intervening hours, and the astonishing wall of silence that has descended inside the Beltway around this, Mark Steyn. It cannot, they’ve persuaded themselves that this isn’t a story, because they don’t like to talk about it. But for those of us who live outside of the Potomac, it’s an enormous story, and our audiences demand that we cover it.
MS: Yes, because I think as you say, brave men fought valiantly all through that horrible, long night, and saved dozens of people. But they were waiting for the help that never came, the help that was two hours away, but was never ordered. And the official explanation is that oh, well, we could have sent somebody, but they wouldn’t have got there in time. Well, you know, just to go back to your sporting analogies, a terrorist attack on a U.S. facility is not a cricket match or a soccer match. You don’t know, a soccer game is going to be 90 minutes. You don’t know how long it’s going to last when the attack ends. And even if those, even if they had sent forces and they hadn’t gotten there in time to save the ambassador or to save the other three people who died, they could have got there in time when the people who committed this act were still sifting through the rubble of the U.S. facility. And so they would have caught them instead of these guys being free to wander around, swank around the Maghreb boasting about what they were able to pull off, which is what one hears from Tunisia and all kinds of other places where colleagues and those involved in this attack have been wandering around.
HH: Coming up later in the program, Jason Chaffetz is going to join me. He actually got on a plane and went there, and the State Department, or the Obama administration, was actually more concerned with keeping a follower, a handler, a minder with him than they were getting the FBI into Benghazi. Jason Chaffetz went there and saw for himself what had happened. I think that this is going to tell us a great deal about this administration, but it’s also going to tell us a great deal about post-Qaddafi Libya, Mark Steyn. And that’s not a story many people are eager to tell, either, because it isn’t, it isn’t the Arab Spring come to fruition. It’s just another example of chaos unleashed by these people.
MS: Yes, that’s true. And I think the lesson of…again, that’s one of the reasons why they didn’t want to send planes screaming over a land that they had supposedly liberated, even while leading from behind, behind Monsieur Sarkozy and Mr. Cameron and whoever, that they had supposedly liberated, help liberate this nation and make it safe for democracy and all the rest of it, as happened in Tunisia and Egypt. And it’s all pretty much gone south on the Arab Spring front. And that, too, was not helpful to their narrative. They were invested in that, and I think that’s the real question. There’s a question at the heart of this. Was it just about electoral advantage? Was it just to protect Joe Biden’s soundbyte that Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda is dead and General Motors is alive? Or is it actually worse than that? In other words, in those first few moments, when the President is informed what’s going on, does somebody, does somebody take the decision that because this whole thing is unhelpful to their view of the world, they are not going to send force? Because that, to me, does render, whoever made that decision, that person is unfit for office. So it does matter who it is.
HH: The new book, HRC, by Jon Allen and [Amie] Parnes is fascinating in the four pages it devotes to this, because so much is not known. But there is clearly an air of chaos and panic around the State Department and the White House that night. And they’ve just, they’re not in a hurry to get to the bottom of this. Now I want to ask you, Trey Gowdy said yesterday, and I salute him. He went on Morning Joe, not the most hospitable of places, and he said Republicans will pay a price, and they should, if they attempt to turn this into a partisan advantage, to raise money from it, etc. I think Trey Gowdy is a perfect choice for this. What’s your reaction, Mark Steyn, to putting the former federal prosecutor in charge?
MS: Yes, I think so, and I think that’s actually what I dislike, we talked about this before, is that when you have these committees, there’s a lot of showboating from people who make speeches or come up with some, wander around the subject and come up with some lame emotive question. And actually, what you want is a prosecutor who will bring some kind of forensic doggedness to bear on the witnesses. So I think he is, in that sense, a perfect guy. I agree with him that it shouldn’t be a partisan issue. But one reason it shouldn’t be is because everyone involved in this is either a career diplomat or a Democrat. There are no Republicans in sight in this story. The whistleblowers are career civil servants. Christopher Stevens, the slain ambassador, or Chris, as Clinton and Obama referred to him endlessly as if they’d been best buddies since third grade, even as they’re lying over his casket about the reason he’s dead, Chris, as Mrs. Clinton and Obama call him, was someone who subscribed to that Obama view of the Arab Spring. That’s why he was there in Libya. He’s one of them. He’s on Team Obama. He’s on Team Clinton. And what is fascinating about this is the heartlessness of the principals here. For Obama and Clinton, everything is politics. There is nothing beyond politics. Even a dead corpse being dragged through, a dead man being dragged through the streets of Benghazi is not real enough to them, for them to stop politicizing it for a moment. So all the politicization, the subordination of what really happened that night to politics, has come from Obama and Clinton, because the only principals in this story are Democrats or career civil servants.
HH: Well said. Well said. Mark Steyn, always a pleasure, www.steynonline.com, America.
End of interview.