What difference does it make why murderers trashed our embassy in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, and killed our ambassador and three other Americans?
It doesn’t make any difference at all unless human life is precious and important. If human life is important, then why it happened matters a great deal. If human life is important, then it matters why someone killed American Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, and Americans Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods, on that night such “a long time ago.” If something could have been done to save those lives, it matters that we did something else instead. If human life matters, we want to know what happened, in order to determine if we ought to do things differently in the future. This is why we investigate fatal house fires or accident scenes or crime scenes. This is why we do autopsies. When human life is lost, why it happened matters to us.
It doesn’t make any difference why the events in Benghazi happened unless truth is important. If truth is important, than why those things happened matters a great deal. It matters because if we have truth, we can evaluate the situation and learn from it. Only with accurate information can we determine what mistakes we made, if any, and what improvements we need to make. False information is useless to us.
It doesn’t make any difference why things went wrong on that fateful night in September unless it is important for Americans to be able to trust their leaders, especially their president. If being able to trust our leaders is important, then what happened on the anniversary of 9/11 matters a great deal. It matters because we were told over and over that events unfolded one way, when evidence has emerged that things actually unfolded another way and that the leaders who informed the public knew that. Believing something that is not true affects our ability to make judgements. If trusting our leaders matters, it makes a difference if it turns out that our leaders misled us for political reasons.
It doesn’t make any difference why our consulate was attacked and our property destroyed unless it is important for American property and interests to be preserved. If those interests are important, then why things happened the way they did matters a great deal. It matters because our property is purchased and defended through the labor of Americans. Knowing why assets were lost matters because we expect our investments to be protected, and knowing why our consulate was not adequately defended can help us to safeguard our other properties, including other embassies or consulates that exist or may exist at some point in the future.
It doesn’t make any difference why an American ambassador is dead unless it matters when a representative of our president, a symbol of our country itself, is killed. If the life of one who symbolizes our country is important, then why Ambassador Stevens died matters a great deal. It matters because Ambassador Stevens was our representative to a foreign state, a guest of that nation, sent to act in our behalf. An attack against our ambassador is an attack against the United States.
It doesn’t make any difference why armed individuals committed an act of terrorism against an American target unless America’s sovereignty and freedom are important. If our sovereignty and freedom are important, then why that act of terrorism occurred matters a great deal. It matters because any terrorist act threatens our sovereignty and freedom to some degree. Our security rests on our ability to defend and protect our nation and on our ability to discourage enemies and potential enemies from attempting to breach our security.
The attack on the Benghazi consulate was not the fault of the president nor of the secretary of state. Terrorists carried out that attack and the four murders that occurred, and they are responsible for it. President Obama and Secretary Clinton, no doubt, mourn the loss of our men and wish that there had been no terrorist attack on September 11. Secretary Clinton’s famous question, “What difference does it make?” was certainly not intended to imply that the deaths of the Americans, including her personal friend, Ambassador Stevens, didn’t matter.
But opportunities to prevent the attack and opportunities to save some or all of the fallen were missed. And evidence strongly suggests that government officials knowingly gave the public misinformation in the aftermath of the slaughter. Those things make a difference because Americans are dead who might now be alive and because Americans were not told the truth about it.
We need to know what happened, not to embarrass or vilify anyone, and not to score political points. We need to know what happened, because human life is important. We need to know because truth and being able to trust our leaders is important. We need to know because America’s property, interests, and representatives are important. We need to know because we do value our sovereignty and freedom, and terrorist acts against the United States threaten them.
What difference does it make why terrorists killed Americans? It makes a difference because what terrorists deemed a good reason to kill Americans on September 11 may seem like a good reason for killing Americans to like-minded people today and tomorrow.