Former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton says the lax security that led to the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya may have been the result of the White House trying to promote the message that the United States was winning the war on terrorism.
"Why did we open a consulate in Benghazi that didn't come anywhere close to meeting the State Department's standards for security, especially in a dangerous environment like that?" Bolton said on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
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"I think it was about advancing the theory that the overthrow of [Moammar] Gadhafi was a huge success, the Arab Spring was eliminating terrorism, everything was going well in Libya," said Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
"Really, what could go wrong? That put these people in a vulnerable position to begin with, and that is a matter of policy ... that comes from the top of the State Department."
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Bolton, now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said that after Wednesday's testimony by Benghazi "whistleblower" Greg Hicks, "I really do think it should be open season."
Hicks, who was deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Libya and was in Tripoli when he got the calls about the assault, questioned his superiors about an early claim that the attack might have been a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Islamic video.
"Mr. Hicks and the others had to make it clear that there was simply no factual basis from the get-go to any argument that this was a demonstration in Benghazi that got out of control, a demonstration over the ... video," Bolton said.
"This was a terrorist attack from the outset. Everybody understood it to be so, and there was never any doubt."
Bolton said he is sure the truth about who knew what and when they knew it — and what may have been covered up — is about to come out.
"We’re going to now begin to find out where the responsibility lies. Is it at the doorstep of [former] Secretary of State [Hillary] Clinton? Or does it go to the White House and all the way to the Oval Office?'' he asked.
"We don’t know the answers to those questions yet, so, of course, the pro-Obama, pro-Clinton spin is that there’s no smoking gun from the hearing. That may be, but there was a lot of smoke in the room.''
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