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This week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will be making her swan song appearance on Capitol Hill, providing at last to Senate and House panels her testimony about the Benghazigate scandal. Under the circumstances, legislators may feel pressured to be deferential and to keep their questions more limited in scope and superficial rather than probing. For the good of the country, it is imperative that they resist going soft.

After all, the hearings Wednesday before the two chambers’ committees responsible for foreign policy oversight afford the final opportunity to examine with the sitting secretary of state her legacy with regard not only to the fiasco that left four Americans dead in Benghazi last Sept. 11, but with the policies that led up to that event – policies that are roiling the region today and that will afflict us for many years to come.

In other words, the object of the exercise must be to understand how we got to the point in Libya where Shariah-adherent jihadists felt able to attack American facilities and diplomatic personnel murderously and with impunity. Consequently, Mrs. Clinton’s interlocutors need to go beyond exploring the record of repeated rejections of requests from Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and others to enhance security at the “mission” in Benghazi and the lack of U.S. response once the attack was launched.

Legislators must ensure that the following issues, for example, are also addressed:

Who was responsible for devising and executing the policy of engaging, legitimating, empowering, funding and arming Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood? It appears to date back to at least March 2009, when the United States first co-sponsored a Shariah-driven United Nations Human Rights Council resolution criticizing expressions that offend Islam. What role did Mrs. Clinton play in that initiative and in the broader policy of which it was a leading indicator?

What responsibility did Mrs. Clinton have for the serial Team Obama decisions that helped bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt? Is she concerned that, by so doing, Islamists determined not only to foster hatred for Israel but to pursue its destruction are now in a position to try again, for the first time since 1973? How does Mrs. Clinton justify, under such circumstances, sending to the Egyptian military additional U.S.-made fighter planes and tanks – weapons whose use, as a practical matter, can only be for waging war against the Israelis?

Does Mrs. Clinton recognize that the wholly predictable effect of overthrowing Moammar Gadhafi was to unleash al Qaeda-linked forces like Ansar al Shariah in Libya and arm them and their counterparts in places like Mali and Algeria? Was Ambassador Stephens in Benghazi on Sept. 11 in connection with the transfer of such weapons from Libyan sources to Syrian “rebels” – who include elements like the al Nusra front that even the State Department has designated a terrorist organization?

Who was responsible for promoting the fraudulent narratives that al Qaeda is basically the only enemy we face and that it is, as President Obama repeatedly declared during the campaign, “on the path to defeat”? Does Mrs. Clinton agree with either of those statements, let alone both, in the face of abundant evidence that Islamists of various stripes are trying to destroy us (some of whom associate themselves publicly with al Qaeda, many of whom do not) and that such Islamists are at the moment in the process of taking over countries, in whole or in part?

Does Mrs. Clinton support the release of the Blind Sheik, Omar Abdul Rahman, from federal prison where he is currently serving a life sentence, as a further gesture of support for Mohammed Morsi? Since her department authorized a visa last year so that a designated terrorist, Hani Nour Eldin, could visit the White House to discuss such a release, does she believe that step would reduce or increase the jihadists’ conviction that they are winning? If the latter, wouldn’t it merely have the effect of prompting them to redouble their efforts to make us, in the words of the Koran, “feel subdued,” meaning more violent jihadism?

Surely the Islamists’ have perceived as further proof of their ascendancy the so-called “Istanbul Process” over which Mrs. Clinton has personally presided. This multinational diplomatic exercise has as its objective bringing about convergence between Shariah’s blasphemy laws, which prohibit expression that offends Islam and its adherents, and our First Amendment, which guarantees our right to engage in it, among other types of speech, writings, videos, etc.

Mrs. Clinton aggressively promoted the line that just such an offensive video was responsible for the attack in Benghazi and that the video maker must be subjected to, in her words, “shaming and peer pressure.” Now that we know that was not the case, does she regret finding a pretext to incarcerate him for a year and fostering the Istanbul Process that threatens the freedom of expression of every other American?

Finally, The Washington Post reported in 2007 that “[Huma] Abedin is one of Clinton’s most-trusted advisers on the Middle East. When Clinton hosts meetings on the region, Abedin’s advice is always sought.” Has that continued to be the case during the past four years in which Ms. Abedin served as the secretary of state’s deputy chief of staff? If so, what role has she played in the development and adoption of the foregoing, misbegotten policies?

The American people need to know the answers to such questions. Congress has a duty to ensure they are asked.

Frank Gaffney, Jr.

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