Our View: Benghazi

Posted: April 20, 2013

There’s long been an ethos — or used to be — among American military personnel and their leaders, both civilian and in uniform, that the United States “leaves no man behind.” In light of what happened seven months ago at the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, that ethos is no longer unassailable.

Four men, including this nation’s ambassador to Libya, died in that terrorist attack. To this day, questions remain unanswered as to why America did not deploy all available military assets to rescue these men and the “untold others” wounded in the deadly encounter — a seeming dereliction of duty made all the more egregious once it was revealed that the hours-long raid had been viewed by other U.S. personnel in real time.

A mystifying code of omerta, or at least of administration silence, still envelops this untoward incident. As recently as Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry, during a testy exchange with members of the House Foreign Relations Committee, expressed a desire to “put [Benghazi] behind us” and concentrate on “serious, important, big current developments.”

Rep. Frank R. Wolf, R-10th, for one, is reluctant to do so — not with that longstanding ethos sundered, not with so many I’s willfully left undotted and so many T’s deliberately left undercrossed.

“[N]one of the terrorists involved in the attack are in U.S. or foreign detention,” Mr. Wolf said March 11, six months to the day after the raid. “The FBI has only had access to a single suspect for a mere three hours, after waiting for months. The FBI is being denied access to another person of interest in Egypt.”

Unbowed in his pursuit of Benghazi truth, Mr. Wolf has introduced House Resolution 36, which would establish a House select committee to probe the attack. Not only have 119 colleagues signed on as co-sponsors, but Mr. Wolf has also marshaled the support of the mother of one man killed in the attack and the father of another. What’s more, roughly 700 retired Military Special Operations professionals have a signed a letter registering their support of the resolution.

Not only do we commend Mr. Wolf for his persistence, but we agree with his basic contention, reiterated Friday at The Star, that “the American people and the families of those killed need to know the truth. Why were they not rescued? Why, why, why?”

Why, indeed. At stake here is nothing less than the continuing credibility of an ethos.