The Email War Of Our Time: My Take on the Benghazi Hearings
The purpose of today’s Benghazi hearings is purportedly to get to the bottom of why not enough security was in place to protect the lives of four American diplomats who were fatally attacked while on assignment at the U.S. compound in Libya in 2012. More to the point, whether there was a failure on the part of the former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, which would leave her culpable and ultimately punishable for these tragic losses of lives.
Hillary Clinton says she takes responsibility for what happened under her watch, but qualifies that the deceased ambassador Chris Stevens did not communicate directly with her about security, but instead communicated those needs to the security professionals assigned to that detail, whose judgement she trusted and whom she expected to keep her briefed.
Benghazi Committee Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R) complains that some emails were answered by Clinton while others were not, and he wants to know why. He argues that former political aid to Bill Clinton and longtime confidant to Hillary Clinton, Sidney Blumenthal, was the Secretary of State’s primary advisor, while she refutes that. Gowdy’s impression that Blumenthal enjoyed a privileged connection to Hillary Clinton comes solely from the number of unveiled emails sent to Clinton from Blumenthal.
As such, Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails have become the basis of the Republican charge, as the Republican panel claims they found hundreds of email requests for additional security in Libya that received no apparent response. Citing a book written by former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell, “The Great War of Our Time” that purportedly claims some 20 attacks on Libya were made before the fatal attack, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R) wants to know “how many” attacks would have had to happen before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took action and provided protection.
The complaint by opposing Republicans further centers around the content of Hillary Clinton’s personal email during the time of this incident. At the root of their complaint is that Hillary Clinton is a full on liar…by listening to today’s hearings, it becomes clear that that is what they are trying with all their might and evidence to prove. Or, to disparage Clinton, as she is currently the front-running Democratic presidential candidate for 2016. Or, both–that she is a liar that should not become President. Your basic mud-slinging convention convened at the high cost of everyone’s time and money.
Halfway into the hearings, Mrs. Clinton is holding her own, and the Republicans have not yet proven their case. In fact, Rep. Adam Smith (D) states at this halfway point that “what we have learned here is nothing, frankly.” While “everyone agrees this is a serious matter and that there is no question that mistakes were made, spending 17 months and 4.7 million” plus dollars to continue this mission to “rip apart every email” to continue to try to prove that Hillary Clinton somehow did not do her job just shows, as Rep. Adam Smith points out, “the difficulty of [Clinton’s] job,” and that she, in fact, should be commended, not condemned.
Regardless of anyone’s political affiliation, whether you believe Hillary Clinton is honest or dishonest, the focus on email exchanges is unique to our times of changing technology, particularly because before such communication, few people were as readily or successfully scrutinized–we didn’t even have hearings after the terrorist attack of 9/11/01. Such controversy tells us something of our times as it applies to our leaders and also to ourselves.
Are we to be afraid of using email as a means of communication? Or are we, like Hillary Clinton, to use it as we see fit, necessary, and expedient? Are non-threatening emails ever a full representation of our thoughts, actions, needs or ideas? I don’t think anyone would ever say it is. What email reveals is or ever revealed was only a piece or pieces of a puzzle, but it was never meant to be the whole puzzle. If you receive an invitation to an event, it is not the event itself. This blog encapsulates a few essays, thoughts and experiences of one writer, yet it is in no way meant to be fully representative of a life, a philosophy, or even the writer’s comprehensive experiences or ideals.
Could it be possible that the same diligence that Hillary Clinton exhibits during today’s hearings is the same sort of diligence she led the country with as Secretary of State? Could it be that she did do what was in her power to do, and maybe that our country learned by the possible mistakes of this event or of her position or of her regrets? Do we have to segregate everything into good and bad, right and wrong, truth and dishonesty just because it fits our need to know, to understand, to act and to react? Does this sort of interrogation have anything to do with Hillary personally?
Life is complicated, our jobs are complicated, and even the discourse of email itself is complicated. What is the first thing everybody always says about email and electronic text–that it does not carry tone; that we cannot read emotion or intention from it; that it is fragmented, pieced together like dialogue, with too much information missing. No one uses email as the definitive transcription of any event in its entirety, do they? Would you want to be held accountable not only for every email you ever sent, but more to the point for every arbitrary interpretation of your email, sent and received? Since it began, the use, purpose and value of email communication has had tentative designations.
In truth, as more and more technological forums evolve, email has become even less significant. We reserve email for certain communications–but these days, we are so overwhelmed by modes of communication and by information that none of us has time to micromanage any of it. We simply take our fill and use it all to our ability and discretion, hoping to accomplish our daily work. Does anyone really have time to drum up schemes like the Republicans accuse Hillary of? She’s a pretty busy and pretty accomplished person. The whole premise seems a little far-fetched, but somehow some people are adamantly convinced of her masterminded evil. Evil that has yet to reveal itself to me, who tries to watch carefully. Evil, which at least at this point, seems as elusive as a ghost.
During a political season, it’s especially important to follow the rhetoric of candidates, political parties, and events such as these Benghazi Hearings so that the most informed decision can be made once election day arrives. Since I am feeling a bit under the weather today, it has given me a golden opportunity to watch the Benghazi Hearings, which you can follow live, here. You can read more about the controversy here and here.
So far, with just a few hours of today’s hearings left to go, I have not been convinced by this Republican panel that Secretary Clinton was in any way remiss. We have wasted nearly a year on this, trying to demonize a woman who appears to be committed to serving the United States with dignity. Let’s quit reliving the Salem Witch Trials and return to 2015, which sorely needs our attention.
This is Day 22 in the 31 Day Writing Challenge, 31 Days of Breaking Free from Fatigue
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