As we navigate our way through this season of political scandal there are questions which have begun to arise, surrounding events in Benghazi, as to motives, both on the part of the supposed architects of failure and those likewise ascribed to their accusers. The Benghazi affair is both fraught with conflicting stories and muddled facts as to what happened and why and what role, if any, was played directly by President Obama and his immediate lieutenants. Beyond discerning what the president actually knew and when he knew it there are numerous questions as to what are the real motives of those on the right who are leading the charge to get to the bottom of it all.
Looking back to this past February, Senator John McCain, appearing on Meet the Press demanded: “Shouldn’t these people [the Administration] be held accountable for the deaths of four brave Americans? We need answers.” More recently Congressman Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, appearing on that same program, made his case for going after whomever it is determined to be responsible. Issa has publicly alleged that the CIA has been manipulated to get the truth that the administration wanted and that the American people had been lied to. That lying, deception, false statements and cover up are all actions of this administration that are legitimately within the scope of Congressional oversight. Issa has demanded to know what the State Department had failed to do to protect American lives. And lastly he, along with the rest of the American public, has lamented the needless loss of four brave Americans.
The maelstrom that Benghazi has become is now easily seen as a politicized contest between the G.O.P. and the Obama administration in their respective efforts to shape a message to the American public. That message, to paraphrase BBC Washington correspondent Katty Kay, is one in which the American people are now completely either missing the point or can’t discern what constitutes a clear picture of what actually happened and why. Are we engaged in a political witch-hunt to bring down the Obama administration or are Republicans engaged in a legitimate inquiry so as to preclude future Benghazi’s or is it both? Is this really about establishing ineptitude on the part of former Secretary of State Clinton or a rightwing ploy to torpedo her chances in 2016? After all Rand Paul, a potential contender for the presidency, has gone on the record as saying, before guilt has been unequivocally established, that Hillary Clinton is unqualified for the presidency. Former Vice president Dick Cheney has publicly asserted that the Obama White House is engaged in a cover up, David Brooks of the New York Times has disputed that, saying that the CIA is trying to shift blame to the State Department. White House sources have alleged that Republicans have altered e-mails so as to create “support” for their position. In the froth and foam of all of these charges and countercharges some on the far right, as in the IRS scandal, have clamored for Obama’s impeachment while other voices within and from outside of the G.O.P. have cautioned restraint until all of the facts are known. The House Republican leadership has asked that Congressman Issa to cease and desist with his personal attacks.
If it is truly the goal of Issa and his allies to rectify, for all time, the shortcomings that led to the Benghazi, tragedy then I say he deserves our support and if it leads to the impeachment of the President Obama and / or the end of Hillary Clinton’s political career so be it. But if Issa’s efforts are just the latest iteration of “gotcha” politics or just another attempt at partisan attack for its own sake then it is almost certainly guaranteed to yield little in the way of benefit to either the American people or the Republican Party. For you see the issues that surround the tragedy in Libya are far from unique to the Obama Administration. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. Political columnist Bob Cesca in his article “13 Benghazis That Occurred on Bush’s Watch without a Peep from Fox News” detailed numerous attacks on American interests which took place during the Bush administration and which received little if any attention from those now clamoring for accountability in the Benghazi incident. Likewise in his interview with Congressman Issa, David Gregory, moderator of Meet the Press, pointed out a litany of past attacks on U.S. interests abroad and asked why Issa wasn’t interested in establishing responsibility for those attacks as well only to have Issa ignore past history in his focus on the present.
The central and most important question to be raised here is whether or not Congressman Issa and his political allies will seize this opportunity to examine all of the recent failures in protecting American interests abroad so as to establish a sound and effective policy for protecting those interests going forward, or will they succumb to the politically attractive alternative of short term political gain that might be had from tying up the Obama administration in endless rounds of hearings over scandals real or imagined? Conceivably and legitimately, this line of inquiry could extend to an analysis of the run up to and the conduct of the War in Iraq as well which contained elements of manipulated intelligence, lying, deception, false statements and cover up of the ineptitude of the Bush administration’s lack of a game plan to manage Iraq after the end of hostilities. After all couldn’t it be said that hundreds of Americans died needlessly there as well?
I’m not a big believer in “multitasking” so I say let Issa and his consort make a thorough examination of Benghazi and let the political chips fall where they may. But after that let Issa and his associates go through the list of other past security failures as outlined by Bob Cesca and as suggested by David Gregory so that they can prove to the American people that their motives aren’t purely, or even largely, political. Anything less than that would leave the American people with only one plausible conclusion and that is that Issa and the Republicans had only one goal in mind when they launched the Benghazi hearings and that was the pure politics of a continual campaign of obstructing the Obama Administration through whatever means were handy at the time.
Steven J. Gulitti
7 June 2013
John McCain: Meet the Press – February 17, 2013: http://presspass.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/02/17/16992343-meet-the-press-mcdonough-mccain-mark-kelly-roundtable-february-17-2013?lite
Darrell Issa: Meet the Press – May 12, 2013; http://www.nbcnews.com/id/51857413/ns/meet_the_press-transcripts/t/may-darrell-issa-dianne-feinstein-thomas-pickering-adam-kinzinger-david-brooks-katty-kay-wes-moore/
New Benghazi probe evidence puts spotlight back on Clinton; http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/middle-east-north-africa/298395-new-evidence-in-benghazi-probe-puts-the-spotlight-back-on-clinton
Serious Investigations, or Partisan Ploys?; http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/05/08/are-congressional-hearings-serious-investigations-or-just-party-politics
Boehner calls for release of Benghazi emails as pressure grows on administration; http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/05/09/issa-seeks-more-whistle-blowers-after-dramatic-benghazi-hearing/
13 Benghazis That Occurred on Bush’s Watch without a Peep from Fox News; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-cesca/13-benghazis-that-occurre_b_3246847.html
Benghazi emails put pressure on White House; http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/10/us-usa-benghazi-idUSBRE9490VD20130510
Rand Paul: Hillary Clinton does not deserve higher office due to Benghazi; http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/299165-paul-hillary-clinton-does-not-deserve-higher-office-due-to-benghazi
Benghazi: A Desperate GOP Attack; http://www.realclearpolitics.com/2013/05/14/benghazi_a_desperate_gop_attack_307696.html
Cheney: White House ‘lied’ to hide Benghazi ‘incompetence’; http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/299587-cheney-white-house-lied-to-hide-benghazi-incompetence
White House: GOP fabricated leaked Benghazi email; http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/299645-white-house-gop-fabricated-benghazi-email
State fretted over Benghazi talking points; http://www.politico.com/story/2013/05/benghazi-talking-points-91458.html
White House releases Benghazi emails; http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/300039-white-house-releases-benghazi-emails
White House: Benghazi emails have different quotes than earlier reported; http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57584947/wh-benghazi-emails-have-different-quotes-than-earlier-reported/
Redacted truth, subjunctive outrage; http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-05-16/opinions/39311695_1_benghazi-libya-susan-rice
Benghazi witness points finger at Clinton on lapses in consulate security; http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/middle-east-north-africa/300879-benghazi-witness-points-finger-at-clinton-on-lapses-in-security#ixzz2TvmyPa2J
Petraeus’s role in drafting Benghazi talking points raises questions; http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-05-21/politics/39420257_1_petraeus-benghazi-attack-house-permanent-select-committee
Rep. Chaffetz: Administration covering up on Benghazi terror attack; http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/301983-chaffetz-administration-covering-up-on-benghazi#ixzz2UPOSm7Bg
Benghazi Depositions To Examine Hillary Clinton’s Role In Response To Attacks; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/13/benghazi-depositions_n_3265354.html?utm_source=DailyBrief&utm_campaign=051313&utm_medium=email&utm_content=FeatureTitle&utm_term=Daily%20Brief
Defense bill presses Pentagon on lessons learned from Benghazi failures; http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/terrorism/303161-defense-bill-presses-pentagon-on-lessons-learned-from-benghazi-failures
House Republicans grill Benghazi auditor on blame for security lapses; http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/terrorism/303385-republicans-get-their-chance-to-grill-benghazi-auditor-on-whos-to-blame-for-security-lapses
GOP to Darrell Issa: Cool it; http://www.politico.com/story/2013/06/gop-darrell-issa-cool-it-92306.html