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The controversy surrounding the tragic attack in Benghazi has come to be a pivotal point in American politics, and also in the history of Libya. After eight congressional committee investigations it appears more and more like the continued investigation is far more about politics than it is about policy.

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Hank: Good morning, John. In 2012, on September 11th, a group of militants attacked the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Now, three years later, if you live in America, the word "Benghazi" is either one of those words that gets you real riled up, or it's a word that if you hear it, you're gotta get ready to run away from whatever nearby person is about to get real riled up.   It's one of those topics that you either know a whole lot about or you know pretty much nothing about. And the trouble is, learning about Benghazi is, no matter what, going to expose you to a great deal of partisan anger. Figuring out why this is, what actually happened, what it means, and hopefully, removing it a little bit from that crazy, angry partisan grandstanding is what we're gonna try to do in the next seven minutes.   Let's start out with Benghazi, which despite the fact that every American has heard of it as, at minimum, a site of a tragedy, at maximum, a site of a massive conspiracy, is actually a city in Libya. It's big. It's about 600,000 people, roughly the size of Denver, Colorado. In 2009, a pro-democracy protest broke out in Benghazi, which then spread across the entire country, and eventually resulted in the first Libyan Civil War.   Revolutions are very exciting. They promise the possibility of rapid change for good, and that's exactly what we were all hoping for after Muammar Qaddafi, generally accepted to be a pretty bad dude, was killed and his government toppled. Unfortunately, the usual immediate outcome of a revolution is a power vacuum, followed by groups of people who want very badly to control the future of their country with guns.   There was a great deal of hope that Libya, and especially Benghazi, where the protests first began, would find a quick path to stability, and depending on who you ask, the Obama Administration was either too optimistic about this or criminally negligent in pretending that it was all okay when it really wasn't and they just wanted to pretend it was for political reasons. Let's get this straight: in this story, there will be two sides to absolutely everything, and both of those sides want very badly to control the future of their country. You know, with incessant yammering on cable news and 85 different congressional committees, but thankfully without guns!   Now, there isn't much controversy about what actually happened on September 11th, 2012. A group of armed militants easily breached the Consulate, security experts attempted to gather all of the personnel and move them to the safety of a nearby CIA compound that was much more easily defensible. Two people, Ambassador Chris Stevens and diplomat Sean Smith, were in a safe room. After the compound was lit on fire, both of them died of smoke inhalation. The rest of the Consulate staff was taken to the CIA compound, which was then later attacked as well. There, two security officers, both former Navy Seals, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, were killed by mortar fire. It was believed that Ambassador Stevens might still be alive; his body wasn't found at the consulate, but it turned out that a group of Libyans had tried to rescue him, pulled him out of the building, and taken him to a nearby hospital where doctors were unable to resuscitate him. Some people saw pictures of the local Libyans trying to help Ambassador Stevens and put text on those images saying that he was being attacked or tortured by those Libyans, just to give you an idea of the kind of constant and deep misinformation we're dealing with here.   So this was an awful thing that happened. It was a terrorist attack, it was a tragedy, and what you think about it depends largely on how you feel about President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was, at the time, head of the State Department. People predisposed to distrusting the Democratic leadership tend to believe that they made grave mistakes and were criminally negligent and have so far successfully covered up their criminal negligence, while people who find it easier to trust Clinton and Obama tend to accept the State Department's version of events.   And that version indeed says that grave mistakes were made in not preparing the Consulate for the instability of the situation and that they could have been more responsive and that they were not. But it doesn't go any deeper than that, and it doesn't go any further up the food chain than that. Those who distrust the Democratic leadership say that Clinton and Obama had a vested interest in down-playing the severity of the attack, and yeah, maybe they did. Nobody wants to have a terrorist attack on their record. This viewpoint is upheld by the fact that immediately after the attack, the CIA indicated and the Administration repeated that the attack was just sort of a natural outgrowth of protests that were happening because of an anti-Islam film, when in fact it was definitely a planned and organized terrorist attack.   This was all very close to the 2012 election. Obama didn't want to be talking about how he'd let a terrorist attack happen and it was weeks before he even used the word "terrorist". But downplaying a crisis after it's happened is, at least to me, very far away from criminal negligence. Other accusations like the then-Secretary Clinton called off troops that could have helped have been proved over and over again to just be made up. But the State Department did make mistakes. They could have and should have done more to protect the Consulate, but those shortcomings have been acknowledged and indeed they were acknowledged in the State Department's own internal report.   Since then there have been seven more investigations that have found nothing new. At a certain point, it very clearly went beyond simple partisan distrust and a desire to get to whatever truth is down there and morphed into an actual active taxpayer-funded campaign against the presumptive Democratic nominee for President. Of course, left-wing pundits have been saying this the whole time, but right-wing pundits would then say, "No, we're just trying to get to the bottom of it" and left-wing pundits would be like, "You're at the bottom, there's nothing there." And they would just yell at each other, and that's how it went for a pretty long time.   But then, somewhat disturbingly, one of the staunchest proponents for Benghazi investigations came forward on national TV and said this:   Kevin McCarthy: Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee. What are her numbers today?   Hank: Now a lot of people on both sides were like "Yeah, of course. Of course this is what this is about, it IS partisan. It IS an opportunity for one party to gain advantage over the other." But coming out and proudly saying on national TV that you're running a series of taxpayer funded investigations to advance your political party, that's bad. That's wrong. I mean it's wrong to do it in the first place but, like, you can't say it, and indeed that guy who was probably going to become Speaker of the House, is no longer going to become Speaker of the House, 'cause that was dumb.   Today in America, the controversy surrounding the Benghazi attack has become so entrenched that there are a lot of people whose minds will never be changed, a lot of people who will believe forever that Obama and Clinton were criminally negligent, and a lot of people who will believe forever that it was never anything more than an opportunity for the Republicans to attack the Democrats. Now some people absolutely do believe that there's a prize at the bottom of this Cracker Jack box, that the President and Hillary Clinton are evil and that this is the best chance they have of uncovering that evil. But eight congressional investigations later, that's six more than we had after September 11th 2001, it's seeming pretty unlikely that we're gonna find out anything, and it's seeming more likely that this was a series of unfortunate circumstances and significant, but not criminal, mistakes. For most people in politics, though, Benghazi is now just a talking point. It's a way to raise money from increasingly polarized constituencies and also a way to polarize those constituencies more.   But even as it occasionally takes over U.S. politics, the attack on the Consulate was a much bigger deal for Libya. After the attack, aid organizations, investors, business people, and businesses all left the city crushing the economy. Other armies and militias saw the attack on the consulate as brazen and inexcusable and they took up arms and fighting increased. This led to the eventual second Libyan Civil War which began in 2014. Benghazi now has large areas that are completely in ruins, and the future of the city, and the future of Libya is fearfully in question.   So that is what's happening in actual Benghazi. As we here in America continue to talk about Benghazi as if it's just a twelve hour period of time in 2012 that was, of course, tragic but ultimately part of a much larger and longer series of tragedies. John, I'll see you on Tuesday.   Since it's only two o'clock in the morning and I just finished editing this video, I figured I would talk a little more. We've done other videos like this in the past. If you want to check those out I'll put a link to a playlist. We've been doing it pretty much since the beginning of Vlogbrothers, and I like that we get to do videos like this, especially because we get to go past the time limit. But it's hard and it's stressful and it's two o'clock in the morning, and I still have to edit this bit, and I don't, I haven't found many examples of people who are trying to do this. It seems a little bit like you're not going to get a ton of views if you're not all about outrage and you're not all about what the other side is doing wrong and how evil they are, and so there aren't a lot of people doing it. If I saw someone doing it, I would either hire them or I would just talk about them all the time.   The question is am I, is it just my own bias that makes me think that all these other people are biased? I don't think it is, mostly because the way to talk about it is from a little bit outside of the political system, and nobody seems interested in doing that because that detachment doesn't get people that interested. But if you know of people who are writing about complicated issues in a way that gives context, is a more full picture of something and doesn't, you know, very particularly have a goal of promoting the ideology or the agenda of one party or another, let me know in the comments. I'd love to read that, 'cause it would be nice just to help me research these, 'cause it's really not fun to read two angry positions and then try and figure out which parts of their anger are real and which parts are just them being angry, which is the majority of it.   Another nice thing about this being an educational video, is I just can keep talking, but I'm gonna stop now. Thank you for watching and I hope that it was useful. And not awful.