Terry McLaughlin: The ‘other’ Sept. 11
What do you do when the impossible … the unimaginable … and the unthinkable become the inevitable? You may say to yourself, “This cannot possibly be happening,” as you begin searching for the most rational response.
It seems that almost everyone I’ve come in contact with recently is feeling this confusion and befuddlement about the presidential election looming before us in November. We are expected to select a leader from among the two most widely disliked and distrusted candidates of our era.
One of these candidates is an outspoken celebrity. When he appeared on television in the past, I would roll my eyes and change the channel. The other of these candidates has been proven to be dishonest, reckless and careless with important national security issues, and perhaps guilty of criminal negligence. How could America possibly have arrived at such a place as this?
We are all trying to navigate through these troubled times, and discussing our feelings and confusion honestly is not a sign of weakness, but rather an admission that we are doing our best to wade through the “spin,” the innuendo, the partisan bickering, the exaggerations and out-and-out lies, to find a path we can follow in good conscience.
In examining the public perception that neither of our chosen candidates are “suitable for the office of President”, it seems that claims of Donald Trump’s unsuitability are attributed to his temperament — his tendency to say whatever comes into his head, his personality, his mannerisms. In contrast, Hillary Clinton appears to be unsuitable based upon her actions — her lack of candor, her dishonesty, her willful disregard for rules, laws and regulations, her recklessness relating to the national security issues raised by her use of an unprotected personal server with which she communicated classified information, her poor judgement, her lack of accountability, and her negligence as Secretary of State which led to the death of four Americans.
In honestly examining the failings and flaws of both candidates, I feel that more weight must be given to facts and actions than to personality traits. Donald Trump may be flamboyant and outspoken, however I don’t believe that any Americans have ever died because of his actions or inactions — a statement that cannot be said in regard to Hillary Clinton.
On Sept. 11, 2012, in Benghazi, Libya, four Americans were killed in a terrorist attack, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Ambassador Stevens had sent repeated messages to Hillary Clinton’s State Department requesting additional security in Benghazi, as he understood that the local situation was extremely volatile and dangerous. But those requests were completely ignored. Either Secretary Clinton chose to ignore them, or her personal staff was so woefully inadequate that they did not brief her on critical security issues involving what should have been her most important priority — the safety of her State Department employees.
On the night of Sept. 11, when an attack on the American consulate was actually underway, security forces on the ground in Benghazi have testified that they were told to “stand down.” General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time, testified under oath that the military “never received a request for support from the State Department, which would have allowed us to put forces” in motion. Leon Panetta, then Secretary of Defense, testified, “We did not have any conversations with Secretary Clinton” on the night of the attack. Hillary Clinton left her men under attack to fend for themselves. Ambassador Stevens and his staff were not offered all the resources at America’s disposal. And they were not saved.
This attack was immediately blamed on a mob reaction to a YouTube video that mocked Muslims. However, it has been proven beyond a doubt that while Hillary Clinton was publicly saying “We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with,” she was emailing her daughter that this was an organized terrorist attack.
During a congressional hearing on this subject Hillary Clinton read from her prepared remarks, “For me, this is not just a matter of policy, it’s personal. I stood next to President Obama as the Marines carried those flag-draped caskets off the plane at Andrews. I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, the sisters and brothers, the sons and daughters.”
Yes, she did. And while she was putting her arms around the Stevens, Smith, Woods, and Doherty families she was also looking them straight in the eye and telling them that “we are going to have the filmmaker arrested who is responsible for the death of your son.” In an interview this August with Chris Wallace, Clinton said that she did not make those statements, and all of those grieving family members must be mistaken in their memories. Charles Woods, the father of one of the victims, responded, “There are two options … Either Mrs. Clinton is lying, or she has a bad memory because of her age or the head injury that she suffered.”
For me, it’s personal too. There are four reasons I could never support Hillary Clinton. Their names are Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty.
May these brave Americans never be forgotten, nor their memories dishonored.
Terry McLaughlin, who lives in Nevada City, writes a twice monthly column for The Union. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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