The Clinton-Benghazi Scandal For Dummies

I don’t know about you, but I’m overwhelmed by U.S. politics right now. I care about politics, I really do, and I want to be a responsible citizen and vote with a clarity and discernment, but it’s hard to keep up with all the candidates and their issues when I have a busy life to live. Lately, the talk in my social circle has been about whether Hilary Clinton is trust worthy. I realized that I know very little about how all the scandals, court hearings, investigation findings, and personal omissions actually connect, so I decided to do a little investigation of my own. I wanted to know what everyone was basing their criticism on. Here’s what I found out.

On the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, a diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya was attacked by 125 to 150 Islamist terrorists. Soon after, a second compound was also attacked. Four Americans were killed in the attacks including one U.S. ambassador, Christopher Stevens, while 10 others were wounded. United Nations ambassador, Susan Rice issued a statement that the attacks were spontaneously inspired by protests against an anti-Islamic YouTube video. However, it was revealed that the attack was a premeditated act of terrorism.

Clinton was Secretary of State during this time, and as such, was responsible for the security standards of all diplomatic locations, including Benghazi. She received heavy criticism because the compounds had a weak perimeter, an incomplete fence, and a broken video surveillance system.

After the attacks, she was also criticized for giving a statement where she shunned responsibility for the attacks stating, “I’m not equipped to sit and look at blueprints, to determine where the blast wall need to be or where the reinforcements need to be…That’s why we hire people who have that expertise.” This testimony didn’t carry much weight with the investigators after it was revealed that officials at the Benghazi compound had requested greater security measures prior to the attack and did not receive it. One such issue was the military response time. The closest U.S. fighter planes at the time of the attack were in Italy, nearly 500 miles away. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that more of Clinton’s diplomatic bases in the Middle East and Africa could not receive military aid fast enough in the event of a similar attack.

But the main criticism against her has been the e-mail scandal that has captured so much media attention lately. The fact is that she never used the secure government e-mail address that was provided to her when she was appointed Secretary of State. Instead, she created her own personal e-mail,, which was maintained by a homemade e-mail server. This is illegal for two reasons, first, that storing classified documents in an insecure system is a risk to national security, and second, that government e-mail accounts exist so that the government can archive the information in them and sort what is considered classified material and what could become public record.

This is only considered a scandal because Clinton deleted tens of thousands of these e-mails after the State Department asked her to release them for review. Some have thought it especially suspicious that, after 55,000 of the remaining work-related e-mails were handed over, the server was wiped clean. When a judge ordered that any other e-mails be handed over and the deleted ones be recovered, one e-mail in particular addressed to Diane Reynolds on the night of the Benghazi attack, sparked a wildfire of suspicious speculation,

“Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an Al Queda-like group: The Ambassador, whom I handpicked and a young communications officer on temporary duty with a wife and two young children. Very hard day and I fear more of the same tomorrow. Let’s try again later.”

Calling the attackers “an Al Queda-like group,” on the night of the attack caused the outrage that has plagued her presidential campaign and led to an 11-hour congressional hearing on October 11th. The concern is that she referred to the attackers as a terrorist-like group in her e-mail that night, then publicly claimed they were an angry mob upset about an anti-Islamic YouTube video. Along with everything else, when directly questioned about the e-mail in court, Clinton admitted that the recipient, Diane Reynolds is a pen name of her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

This issue of Clinton’s trustworthiness keeps evolving and has been blurred by the constant churn of media commentary and speculation. I found it difficult to decide how to feel about the weekly wave of Clinton issues because I didn’t have a clear, linear understanding of the facts. This explanation has certainly left out quite a bit of detail, but hopefully it provides a basic understanding for voters who have lives to live and can’t keep track of the political theater.


Photo Source: