Nel's New Day

May 12, 2014

GOP’s Benghazi OCD Shows Ignorance

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:18 PM
Tags: , ,

Over a leisurely, late breakfast this morning, I discussed politics with a beloved friend, a Republican who now calls herself a centrist. Two topics that came up were the proposed hearings on Benghazi and the Affordable Care Act. I always take away interesting information from my talks with her, and this morning was no exception.

Almost 20 months ago, four people were tragically killed at a diplomatic outpost in Libya. The GOP is still convinced that President Obama lied about the reasons behind the deaths because the 2012 campaign was heating up. Conservatives also claim that the deaths could have been prevented and that Hillary Clinton was callous about the deaths. The other side still believes in the possibility that an anti-Muhammad video resulting in riots across 30 countries was a contributing factor.

The most recent excuse to have a 14th hearing on the tragedy comes from the appearance of an email about talking points for Susan Rice, then Ambassador to the United Nations and responsible for public information about Benghazi.  The new effort makes eight subpoenas, 50 briefings, hundreds of hours of transcribed interviews, and 25,000 pages of documents.

The ACA, my other topic discussion with my friend, received at least 50 repeal votes since it was passed in December 2010. (It appears that Benghazi has a few more hearings to go.) Although GOP candidates trying to replace members of Congress are campaigning on repealing Obamacare, existing lawmakers realize that the healthcare reform has gained a great deal of popularity since it went into effect in the last few months. That popularity has shifted the GOP circus from one circle to another. Fox network has almost totally withdrawn from any discussion of ACA to focus on Benghazi as the following chart shows:

benghaziobamacare550

Fox also dropped the Cliven Bundy stories when they figured out they would have to blame the conservatives.

foxbenghaziobamacare bundy The new circle at the circus may come back to bite the GOP. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said that a possible Democrat boycott of the hearings would demand the GOP to meet a high standard, as if a high standard were not customary for House hearings. Boehner also needs to worry about the embarrassment from politicizing the hearings. Although they continue to claim that this is not being done for any political reasons, both the RNC and GOP candidates are using the event for fundraising.  Boehner denies any knowledge about the fundraising although he leads a monthly briefing meeting at RNC headquarters.

Although the House pretends that the Benghazi hearings are for fact-finding reasons, the committee chair, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) is treating it like a trial. In answering a question about whether the panel’s work would continue in the 2016 election cycle, he replied, “If an administration is slow-walking document production, I can’t end a trial simply because the defense won’t cooperate.” He is convinced that the Obama administration is guilty and his responsibility is to prosecute its officials: “I can’t disclose that evidence yet, but I have evidence that there was a systematic intentional decision to withhold certain documents from Congress.”

Gowdy also explained that the hearings are weighted with Republicans because “one side gets more strikes than the other side when you’re constituting a jury.”  Following his policy, the Democrats should have a greater number:  in Gowdy’s trial his side has only six peremptory challenges as compared to the ten that the defendant receives. In a gesture of generosity, Republicans are willing to let Democrats read the documents and know about subpoenas.

Unfortunately for Gowdy, he’s also starting out with other positions of ignorance.  He plans to ask about lacking security, failure of military units to more toward support, and lack of references to “terrorist” and “attacks” in President Obama’s talking points. Answers to these have already been provided. Gowdy says that he doesn’t wish to rehash earlier Congressional investigations, but  these questions have been asked a number of times.

In discussing the recently-surfaced email, Gowdy seems ignorant of any disturbances and dangers in  the Middle East other than at Benghazi. In the email’s reference to bringing countries to justice for harming our citizens, he said, “What other country could they be talking about? I mean what else was being discussed after September 11, 2012 other than Benghazi?” Maybe Egypt, Yemen, and Sudan to begin with?

As a prosecutor, Gowdy would be familiar with the objection “asked and answered.” Counsel can’t repeat a question to a witness after getting an answer. He wants to ask Hillary Clinton why diplomats remained in Benghazi because of danger. Clinton has already answer the question, but the GOP wants to ask it again because they don’t like her other answer.

A question for Gowdy regarding the hearings, however, is why they are concentrating on Benghazi. Just the year of 2012 saw 86 “significant attacks” against diplomatic outposts, according to the State Department. The death toll of these attacks was 24, not four. Since 1970, 521 attacks on U.S. diplomatic targets killed 500 people. These included a truck bomb explosion in Nairobi (Kenya) that killed 213 people, 12 of them from the United States.

In 1983, Ronald Reagan’s time, 241 GIs died in an attack on a Beirut barracks. Less than a year later, a U.S. government outpost in Beirut was bombed for the third time in 18 months. Reagan explained that repairs hadn’t been finished on time: “Anyone who’s ever had their kitchen done over knows that it never gets done as soon as you wish it would.” There were no hearings for hundreds of deaths, a tortured and killed CIA chief, and other bombings despite the urging of the U.S. Secretary of Defense to pull out the people serving in Lebanon.

The House suffers from either Benghazi Fever or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder—or both. Before Boehner set up the special House committee to investigate the attack at Benghazi, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) subpoenaed Secretary of State John Kerry on the same subject, despite the fact that Kerry has voluntarily testified before Issa’s committee and would probably do so again. Yet he was ordered to appear, not asked.

During Issa’s hearings, retired Brig. General Robert Lovell said, “I did not say we did not try [to save the people at Benghazi].” Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) declared, “We have no evidence that Department of State officials delayed the decision to deploy what few resources the Defense Department had available to respond.”

An extensive investigation by The New York Times, including interviews with Libyans who were familiar with the attack, revealed no evidence of Al Qaeda or international terrorist group participation. Fighters who benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi led the attack. In large part, it was fueled by anger at the Christian video which led to more anger after the false rumor that guards inside the U.S. compound had shot Libyan protesters. A Senate intelligence committee report in January stated:

“Intelligence suggests that the attack was not a highly coordinated plot, but was opportunistic. It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attacks or whether extremist group leaders directed their members to participate. Some intelligence suggests the attacks were likely put together in short order, following that day’s violent protests in Cairo against an inflammatory video.”

Republicans have already behaved shamefully by revealing the names of Libyans talking the U.S. consulate, thus putting these people into danger. They ignored reports from Libyan security officials about a demonstration at the Benghazi diplomatic outpost because of the anti-Muhammad video. Despite Graham’s claims, Benghazi is not dominated by Al Qaeda. The Benghazi municipal council told then U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens, killed in the attack, that security in the city was improving. About six months before the attack, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) talked about “the enormous progress … made in the past few months.”

No one in the House has investigated the CIA for its participation in the attack because of its compound attached to the diplomatic million. Nor have they created a select committee to investigate the problem instead of a specific situation. Doing so, however, doesn’t raise money and elect Republicans.

The GOP leaders claim that they’re re-investigating Benghazi for the families, but they don’t want it. The budget doesn’t want it. Nothing new will be revealed. Therefore the House GOP members will waste money and cause more pain to get elected in 2014.

None of the committee members has been in Congress for more than seven years, and almost half came in with the Tea Party sweep of 2010. Most are extremely conservative (as compared with quite conservative). Several are lawyers, and the chair is a former federal prosecutor. Four of the seven have already investigated Benghazi.

If the committee succeeds, the GOP will cheer; if it fails, Boehner will have thrown a few Tea Party members under the bus’s wheels. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), watching from the safety of the Senate, said, “The people who are seen as politicizing this are going to get burned.”

Next year, dictionaries may add Benghazi as different parts of speech—the verb “to Benghazi” someone, the adjective “a Benghazi experience,” even an expletive “oh Benghazi!”

The House would be better served by investigating the terrorist militias in Nevada and Utah who are pointing weapons at U.S. citizens, violating U.S. law, and destroying U.S. property.

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