America demands the truth!

News item: U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., says he will hold up all presidential nominations until survivors of the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, testify before Congress.

We’ve long since passed the time for answers.

When Americans die on foreign soil, the very least we can expect is that their countrymen know why and for what.

But all we have heard are lies, and all we’ve witnessed in Washington, D.C., is a cover-up.

And make no mistake: No matter what else you’ve heard, this cover-up goes all the way to the top, right into the Oval Office. The president cannot avoid culpability in these deaths, no matter how much he might wish to escape.

It’s up to all of us to hold him accountable. We’ve all heard the cover stories about why it started, stories the administration knew — or should have known — were lies.

But high-ranking officials told those lies anyway, on the world stage, not in service of their country, or to defend a legitimate operation, but to defend their own complicity in the murder of Americans in a distant land.

Oddly, very few in official Washington have taken this scandal seriously. They’ve brushed it off, ignored it, hoped it would go away. But it hasn’t. And it won’t.

Not as long as a small but dedicated cadre of committed people continue to demand answers.

Yes, the administration has submitted to hearings, provided documents, offered testimony. But it has not given us real answers, the kind of answers that we must continue to demand until the deaths of every single one of those Americans is fully explained.

Among those questions: Why were they even there in the first place? Why were they sent from safety into harm’s way, especially when we had intelligence that suggested the entire thing was a bad idea?

The temptation after tragic events like this one is to forget it, to want to move on, to avoid contemplating the most terrible thought: Why would high-ranking officials of our own government turn a blind eye when they knew our people were in harm’s way, likely to be killed? Why did they allow it?

But we can’t give in to that temptation. We have to push on. We have to keep demanding the truth.

The president may be charged with seeing that the laws are faithfully executed, but he is not above the law. Justice must someday come for him, too.

And that goes for everyone else in the administration with knowledge of the truth: The vice president. The secretary of state. The CIA director. The secretary of defense. All of them were involved, and all of them must be called to account, by Congress at least, if not by the courts.

The lies have stood long enough!

The falsehoods stain our national honor, and no matter how many days pass, no matter how much public indifference greets our questions, we must push forward until the day comes that we finally know the truth. The families of the lost deserve at least that much.

The possibility exists that — once we have the truth — we will confront a grim prospect: That high-level elected leaders of our country acted with depraved indifference to the lives of Americans sworn to their country’s service.

On that day, we must act with resolve to bring justice to every person who participated in this shameful episode.

No matter how long it takes, the American people finally must be told the truth about why President George W. Bush started the unnecessary war in Iraq.

He must be held accountable. The American people demand no less.

(Note: According to The Washington Post, 4,474 American soldiers have died in Iraq since the war began in 2003.)

Steve Sebelius is a Review-Journal political columnist, and author of the blog SlashPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter (@SteveSebelius) or reach him at (702) 387-5276 or ssebelius@reviewjournal.com.

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