Columbine. School tragedy. 9/11. Terrorist attack on America. Pearl Harbor. Japanese attack on America. Newtown. School shooting tragedy. Watergate. Presidential scandal and cover-up.
Certain words and phrases now take our minds and memories, not to their original meanings, but to the tragedies, the attacks that now define them.
Benghazi should now join this list.
On Sept. 11, 2012, the consulate in Benghazi, Libya was attacked.
The response from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama following the consulate attack was anything but firm and clear that there was a link to al-Qaeda.
Instead, our two "leaders" generated headlines like this one from the New York Times during the evening of Sept. 11, 2012: "Anger Over Film Fuels Anti-American Attacks in Libya and Egypt."
To understand Benghazi, a few key events prior to the consulate attack must be acknowledged:
• From 2011 to July 2012, a security report logs 234 "security incidents" in the Benghazi area that included "car-jackings, kidnappings, assassination attempts and gun battles."
• On June 4, 2012, Abu Yahya al-Libi, an al-Qaeda "mastermind," was killed by a U.S. drone.
• On June 5, 2012, an al-Qaeda affiliate released a video claiming credit for an explosion at the Benghazi consulate in response to the drone assassination the day prior. The hole created in the consulate wall was broad enough for "40 men" to enter. Leaflets promising future attacks against the U.S. were left.
• On June 10, 2012, the British ambassador to Libya survived an assassination attempt as his convoy was attacked by a "rocket-propelled grenade 300 yards from their consulate."
• June 18, 2012, the Tunisian consulate in Benghazi was attacked by the same Al-Qaeda affiliate group.
• By the end of June, the British consulate had closed with all staff removed.
• Three days prior to the Benghazi attacks, The Independent reports that American diplomats were warned and an "alert was issued 48 hours before the attacks by the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, but was not made public."
• On the day of the terror attacks against America, Sept. 11, 2012, a video was released by Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri titled "The Lion of Knowledge and Jihad: Martyrdom of al-Sheidh Abu Yahya al-Libi," referencing the U.S. drone assassination in June. This video called "people to flock even more to his writings and call, Allah willing."
Despite these facts and the reality of four dead Americans, we witnessed a YouTube video receiving the blame even as our commander-in-chief and secretary of state stood before flag-draped coffins eulogizing these brave men who were operating in danger's lap and were ultimately abandoned.
There is an overlooked fact that Ambassador Chris Stevens was specifically in Benghazi to establish a permanent embassy at the orders of Secretary of State Clinton on the day of the attack, even among all the violence, danger and failed security assessments.
Now America gets to watch "textbook tactics of a cover-up of a scandal" as noted by the editor of National Review, Rich Lowry, in describing the Obama administration's response to Benghazi: "1. Stonewall, 2. Don't answer questions, 3. Let time pass, 4. Then, call it 'old news.'"
All of these actions and decisions were painted on the landscape of the November 2012 presidential election. Between Sept. 11, 2012 and Nov. 1, 2012, Barack Obama claimed no fewer than 32 times on his re-election campaign trail that Al-Qaeda "is decimated" and "on the run."
Where's the anger? We'll see if America has the spine and the congressional leadership to demand justice.
Robin Smith served as chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party from 2007 to 2009. She is a partner in the Smith, Waterhouse Strategies business development and strategic planning firm.