THE BLOG
01/05/2015 01:16 pm ET Updated Mar 07, 2015

Every Time Conservatives Mention Benghazi in 2015, Liberals Should Remind Them of September 11, 2001

Mark Wilson via Getty Images

Conservatives are the Harry Houdinis of foreign policy.

These Apple Pie loving and God fearing escape artists will always free themselves from their failure to prevent 9/11; despite the chains of broken lives, debt, and counterinsurgency wars that followed the terror attacks under their watch. Like a skilled illusionist, the GOP's sleight of hand will remove the colossal blunders of Bush, Cheney, Rice, and company, while at the same time placing Benghazi in your line of sight. The result is that according to Gallup, 55% of Americans believe the GOP will keep them safer from terrorism, even though bin-Laden was killed under Obama's tenure and the Twin Towers fell while George Bush was reading a children's book.

I'm not the biggest Hillary Clinton fan, but fair is fair. If you blame Hillary for Benghazi, then don't forget to assign blame to Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld for 9/11. As stated in a Washington Post article titled Two Months Before 9/11, an Urgent Warning to Rice, Bush's then National Security Advisor could have done far more to protect this country from 19 hijackers:

On July 10, 2001, two months before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, then-CIA Director George J. Tenet met with his counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, at CIA headquarters to review the latest on Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Black laid out the case, consisting of communications intercepts and other top-secret intelligence showing the increasing likelihood that al-Qaeda would soon attack the United States.

Tenet called Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser, from the car and said he needed to see her right away.

...For months, Tenet had been pressing Rice to set a clear counterterrorism policy, including specific presidential orders called "findings" that would give the CIA stronger authority to conduct covert action against bin Laden.

...Tenet had been losing sleep over the recent intelligence he'd seen.

But Tenet had been having difficulty getting traction on an immediate bin Laden action plan, in part because Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had questioned all the National Security Agency intercepts and other intelligence. Could all this be a grand deception? Rumsfeld had asked.

...Besides, Rice seemed focused on other administration priorities, especially the ballistic missile defense system that Bush had campaigned on. She was in a different place.

...Afterward, Tenet looked back on the meeting with Rice as a tremendous lost opportunity to prevent or disrupt the Sept. 11 attacks. Rice could have gotten through to Bush on the threat, but she just didn't get it in time, Tenet thought.

So, Condoleezza Rice was "in a different place" with a different set of priorities than defending our nation from al-Qaeda. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld thought the warnings were possibly a "grand deception" and like Rice, had different priorities before the attacks. If their names were Clinton and Kerry, or Hagel and Susan Rice, what would Rush Limbaugh have said about their failure to protect America?

Moving on to more evidence in the blame game, let's look at others who ignored intelligence reports that could have saved the lives of 3,000 Americans. In a New York Times article titled The Deafness Before the Storm, the evidence shows President Bush was given ample opportunity to defend the country from al-Qaeda:

On Aug. 6, 2001, President George W. Bush received a classified review of the threats posed by Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network, Al Qaeda. That morning's "presidential daily brief" -- the top-secret document prepared by America's intelligence agencies -- featured the now-infamous heading: "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." A few weeks later, on 9/11, Al Qaeda accomplished that goal.

A bit too obscure of a message, you might say? Only if Sarah Palin were reading the warning, perhaps, but then again she doesn't read much. However, when an American president reads the words, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.," then it's safe to say he was warned about an impending attack.

Then of course there's a Bush official who pulls zero punches when it comes to blaming the president for "ignoring" various warnings about impending danger. In a 2004 CNN article, Richard Clarke explains the frustration and anger associated with a president who simply wouldn't take intelligence reports seriously:

"Frankly, I find it outrageous that the president is running for re-election on the grounds that he's done such great things about terrorism," Richard Clarke told CBS' "60 Minutes" in an interview Sunday night. "He ignored it. He ignored terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something to stop 9/11. Maybe. We'll never know."

Imagine if 9/11 had taken place under President Obama. Imagine Richard Clarke saying President Obama "ignored" terrorism. Can you hear Ann Coulter now in your mind? Can you hear the fabricated outrage from chicken hawks like Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly?

Finally, there's the transcript from Condoleezza Rice's 9/11 Commission testimony. While few have noticed the following testimony as contradictory to the facts, let's analyze her words in relation to Hillary's Clinton's involvement with Benghazi:

RICE: Well, Mr. Chairman, I took an oath of office on the day that I took this job to protect and defend. And like most government officials, I take it very seriously. And so, as you might imagine, I've asked myself a thousand times what more we could have done.

I know that, had we thought that there was an attack coming in Washington or New York, we would have moved heaven and earth to try and stop it. And I know that there was no single thing that might have prevented that attack.

Rice states, "had we thought" attacks were imminent, they would have done everything possible to prevent the disaster. But what about Richard Clarke's stated "outrage"? What about the memo titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S."? What about CIA Director Tenet's meetings and warnings to Rice about al-Qaeda?

You'll hear Benghazi thousands of more times from now until 2016. If indeed Hillary Clinton failed to act in a responsible manner to prevent this catastrophe, then it's true, she deserves blame for the loss of American lives.

However, if the standard by which Hillary Clinton is judged coincides with her involvement in Benghazi, then Jeb Bush should answer for his brother's lack of reading comprehension.

The GOP should answer for its inability to protect this nation from the deadliest terror attack in American history.

Bush's National Security Advisor and Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and other officials in his cabinet should also be judged by the devastation and loss of life linked to September 11, 2001.

Whenever a liberal hears Benghazi, the correct rebuttal is 9/11.

The conservative foreign policy séance should end once and for all, especially when 9/11 happened under their watch. From now on, Americans should judge scandal for scandal, terror attack for terror attack, and decide based on the facts who keeps this nation safer from catastrophe. I'll take Bill Clinton's sex life over Watergate, The Iran-Contra Affair, 9/11, the outing of a CIA agent, two counterinsurgency wars advocated by neoconservatives who never served in the military, a torture fiasco, the 2008 financial crisis, and an ISIS threat that should never have evolved after we brought democracy to Iraq.

Hillary Clinton isn't perfect, but at least she's not George Bush and company.