Column: Benghazi cover-up conspiracy stinks to high heaven
May 17, 2013
Remember the presidential campaigns last fall when Republicans thought the issue that would sink Obama was the Benghazi screw up and an alleged cover upon the scale of Watergate? The US Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed while visiting a dangerous part of Libya. As an issue, it did not enter into the electorate's psyche in 2012. The same fate is likely to meet this current rehashing 2016.
If we learned anything in 2012foreign policy mess ups that are water under the bridge rarely become a determining issue in a campaign.The economy, debt, ,tax policy class warfare, and immigration issues drowned out the Benghazi tragedy as factors determining the outcome and no doubt some of these issues and issues yet unknown will dominate 2016, too, if Hillary Clinton or anyone else is standard bearers of the Democratic party..
As much as some in the GOP hope it would be, Benghazi is no Watergate,a cover up which did impact future elections and brought down Pres. Nixon. Watergate covered up a crime sparked by political dirty tricks,…a break in at the Democratic headquarters. At worst,the Benghazi talking points could indeed have been spun to some political purpose to protect the President's posterior at the end of a re-election campaign . At best,they walked backPres. Obama earlier attribution of terrorist involvement in the Benghazi attack before the actual identification of the perpetrators were known.
Those talking points, delivered days after the event by UN Ambassador Susan Rice, positioned the at cause as part of widespread demonstrations across the Muslim world instead of an attack by militants. That is not the first time a high US diplomatic official repeated points spun by others. Secretary of State Colin Powell was fed bogus "proof" of Iraq's WMD which he repeated at the UN. While it did gather international support for conducting the longest war in US history, it did not result in George W Bush's election loss or in talk of impeachment proceedings.The Benghazi spin had no comparable impact on shaping U.S. policy.
The GOP-controlled House of Representative committee has almost exclusively focused on finding proof that Benghazi was a covered up by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. This stinks to high heaven as a witch hunt concocted to woundClinton enough to keep her from being a winning candidate for president in 2016. If the House committee really cared about preventing such future tragedies, they should instead be examining whether all diplomats in stable areas need more security or an rescue squad should be kept on call nearby when diplomats venture from their green zone,whether the risk assessment was faulty,or whether there was adequate funding for our diplomats' security.
TheHouse hearing so far has disclosed substantially little more than we had learned running up to the 2012 election or a subsequent investigative report. As Ambassador Thomas Pickering,who chaired the independent investigative report,commented on Candy Crowley's CNN show Sunday , he found that Clinton did not make decisions on the actual events and that the military commanders responsible confirmed that logistics made rescue impossible. Pickering further commented that he saw nothing new coming from the committee hearings regarding conduct of the actual Benghazi event.
New information that did emerge so far concerns post attack actions. A committee of government agencies, including representatives of the CIA, White House and State Department,revised Rice's talking points twelve times. The State Department reassigned the second in command of the Libyan embassy for blowing the whistle without a minder present contrary to personnel policy. That action did not contribute to proving cover up since the cat was already out of the bag.