In this space in January, I noted that Hillary Clinton had denied ever seeing Ambassador Stevens’s warnings about deteriorating security in Libya on the grounds that “1.43 million cables come to my office” — and she can’t be expected to see all of them, or any. Once Ambassador Stevens was in his flag-draped coffin listening to her eulogy for him at Andrews Air Force Base, he was her bestest friend in the world — it was all “Chris this” and “Chris that,” as if they’d known each other since third grade. But up till that point he was just one of 1.43 million close personal friends of Hillary trying in vain to get her ear.
Now we know that at 8 p.m. Eastern time on the last night of Stevens’s life, his deputy in Libya spoke to Secretary Clinton and informed her of the attack in Benghazi and the fact that the ambassador was now missing. An hour later, Gregory Hicks received a call from the then–Libyan prime minister, Abdurrahim el-Keib, informing him that Stevens was dead. Hicks immediately called Washington. It was 9 p.m. Eastern time, or 3 a.m. in Libya. Remember the Clinton presidential team’s most famous campaign ad? About how Hillary would be ready to take that 3 a.m.call? Four years later, the phone rings, and Secretary Clinton’s not there. She doesn’t call Hicks back that evening. Or the following day.
Are murdered ambassadors like those 1.43 million cables she doesn’t read? Just too many of them to keep track of? No. Only six had been killed in the history of the republic — seven, if you include Arnold Raphel, who perished in General Zia’s somewhat mysterious plane crash in Pakistan in 1988. Before that you have to go back to Adolph Dubs, who died during a kidnapping attempt in Kabul in 1979. So we have here a once-in-a-third-of-a-century event. And at 3 a.m. Libyan time on September 12 it’s still unfolding, with its outcome unclear. Hicks is now America’s head man in the country, and the cabinet secretary to whom he reports says, “Leave a message after the tone and I’ll get back to you before the end of the week.” Just to underline the difference here: Libya’s head of government calls Hicks, but nobody who matters in his own government can be bothered to.