While the State Department was responsible for elements of the security for the diplomatic mission at Benghazi, the mission itself was used primarily for intelligence activities and most the U.S. officials there and at the nearby annex were CIA officers who used State Department cover.That purposeful ambiguity between diplomatic and intelligence efforts abroad has meant that at home, the State Department has taken almost all of the public blame for an error that was in part the fault of the CIA.
This is a combustible situation. In the struggle to defend themselves, each of these dueling bureaucracies is likely to leak information that casts its rival in a poor light—and there are some signs that there may indeed be more shadows in need of illumination. More headlines about Benghazi are the last thing that Team Obama, as well as Team Hillary, want to see right now. But if Benghazi can’t be buried, these teams, too, will get in on the Blame Game.And finally, as the top brass at State, CIA, Camp Clinton and the White House all try to wash their hands of the scandal, they will deal with the problem of underlings who refuse to be scapegoated. Furious at taking the fall for decisions made far above their pay grade, lower level officials will reach out to the press. Stories like this are like a fire in an ash tray; its flames may not reach all that high, but it can smolder for a long time and really stink up the room.
Don’t count Benghazi out of Scandal Season yet. So much went so wrong in so many ways, and the administration has tried so hard to keep a lid on the whole smoldering mess, that we suspect there are plenty more details waiting to emerge.[Image of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton honoring the victims of the Benghazi attack Andrews Air Force Base on September 14, 2012 courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]