(AP/Charlie Neibergall)

Get ready for a Benghazi show trial: John Bolton admits Hillary Clinton's testimony is about her "ability to lead"

Leading neocon and influential Republican owns up to tomorrow's real purpose

Sophia Tesfaye
October 21, 2015 6:20PM (UTC)

Tomorrow, Hillary Clinton is set to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi to answer a series of questions chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) has taken great pains to insist are not political in nature, despite members of his own party saying otherwise. Now, on the eve of his biggest prosecutorial moment, Gowdy is again being undermined, this time by none other than George W. Bush's former ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton.

In a new Wall Street Journal op-ed, Bolton argues that "Benghazi still makes a difference" because he believes Clinton's "Thursday testimony may tell us much about her ability to lead," thereby admitting to the political nature of the investigation.


Despite insisting that "the hearing’s focus must be on the key policy and leadership implications of the mistakes made before, during and after the" attack, Bolton writes that the Republican-led Select Committee should grill Clinton about her ability to lead the nation as commander-in-chief based upon her performance handling the Benghazi attack.

"Politics has no place in the committee hearing on Thursday," Bolton argues, "save for a question that many Americans may be asking: Is this how we want our country led?":

If earlier secretaries of state have been perfectly prepared to get their fingernails dirty in operational details when those under their responsibility were threatened, why wasn’t Mrs. Clinton?

Bolton faults Clinton for not "staying at her desk" while reports of attacks in Benghazi, Cairo and Tunis came into the State Department. "Imagine the effect on morale when, with colleagues in Libya in mortal peril, State Department personnel learned that their leader had gone home for the evening," Bolton asks.


And who did concoct the Muhammad video explanation? State Department and CIA personnel on the ground in Tripoli and Benghazi all knew in real time that a terrorist attack was under way. There was no fog of war in Libya, as Mrs. Clinton has contended. The fog was all in Washington, an ideological and political fog protecting the last two months of President Obama’s re-election campaign, and reflecting his unworldly view that the global terrorist threat was receding.

Bolton then instructs Gowdy's committee to ask the former secretary of state about her "role in formulating the U.S. response to the Benghazi attack" and whether "she ever advocate[d] retaliation for the coldblooded killing of four Americans."

"Policy, leadership and management failures at the administration’s highest levels," Bolton concludes, lead to the attacks in Benghazi and it's clear he wants House Republicans to hold Hillary Clinton responsible.

Benghazi Committee On Defense As It Readies For Hillary Clinton To Testify

Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's Deputy Politics Editor and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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