Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was set to face a grilling from Congress this week over the terrorist attacks in Benghazi when she started channeling the late poet Shel Silverstein.
“I have the measles and the mumps / A gash, a rash and purple bumps,” said Clinton, in effect, informing the House and Senate (with regrets!) that she was suffering too many maladies to testify as expected about the Sept. 11 attack in Libya.
America’s top diplomat was to provide her first public answers regarding the murder of US Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Now that won’t happen.
Clinton’s story beggars belief: While traveling in Europe, she contracted a stomach virus . . . which made her dehydrated . . . which made her faint at home . . . which caused her to fall and hit her head . . . which gave her a nasty concussion.
So Clinton’s deputies will appear in her stead before the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday to explain the State Department’s failures.
That is not nearly enough.
We’ve chided the Obama administration in the past for its lack of transparency – but this looks like one of the most transparent dodges in the history of diplomacy.
And if Congress allows the secretary of state to wriggle free from scrutiny in the last days of her tenure (she may be gone from Foggy Bottom before the next round of congressional hearings in 2013), it will be a shame on that body as well.
So it’s clear that Clinton needs to testify.
And the Republicans, at least, seem to realize it.
“We still don’t have information from the Obama administration on what went so tragically wrong in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of four patriotic Americans,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee, when Clinton reported her noggin-bump. “This requires a public appearance by the secretary of state herself.”
Thursday’s hearing covers the State Department’s Accountability Review Board, the squad of DC luminaries who’ve been investigating the attack since October and who delivered their findings to Clinton yesterday.
The report may shed some light on the attack, but it behooves Clinton to explain why the administration spent weeks misleading the public by pinning blame for the strike on an obscure YouTube video.
No, she owes the public true accountability – not a paper press release from some former bureaucrats.
And that requires her to testify before Congress, before the public.
Nothing else will suffice.