Muftic: Benghazi grilling exposes GOP agenda

Felicia Muftic
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Felicia Muftic
Courtesy Photo |

The 11-hour grilling of Hillary Clinton by Republican members of the House Benghazi Select Committee last week had some unintended consequences for the GOP.

Not only did their attack dog prosecutorial tone fail to rattle her, it gave her an opportunity to demonstrate in a very public way she had the self-control, stamina, and intelligence that a president would need. The overt attempt by GOP committee members to trip her up with loaded questions, to get her to incriminate herself with her answers, also became additional proof of the partisan nature of the committee and did nothing to restore its credibility.

What did come out of her answer to a GOP committee member’s question is a fact that may in the long term diminish the importance of another issue dogging her — her emails on a private server.

The highly partisan GOP-dominated committee began the hearings with a strike against their credibility by a whistle blowing ex-staff member and statements by two members of the House that the committee’s purpose was to hurt her candidacy. As even committee chair, Rep. Trey Goudy, admitted afterward, no new facts resulted. Perhaps he meant no new facts emerged that could bring down her poll numbers.

Goudy had begun his opening case statement against her with trying to link the negatives of Benghazi to Clinton’s private emails. He failed. What fact did emerge was to her advantage, that the decision making and communications of a Secretary of States’ office were made in staff briefings, one to one conversations, and mostly with old fashioned cables, not by emails. This may explain why so little evidence of use of the private server has shown any impact on national security. Only an unfinished investigation by the FBI to see if there was “gross negligence” in handling classified and non-classified documents remains.

The GOP committee members substantiated the partisan purpose of the hearing with their attitudes and questions that were not fact seeking, but were questions prefaced and constructed to make a public case for their accusations.

Adding to suspicions of GOP partisanship, the role of other major players had not gotten the same public exposure. Many questions and answers essential to protecting diplomats in the future are buried in written documentation, prior investigations, and hearing transcripts.

Instead, GOP committee members were preoccupied with posing questions that explored conspiracy theories for the world to see, aimed at pinning blame on Clinton herself.

Particularly glaring was the committee’s failure to conduct equal public grilling of CIA and military officials. Why were there intelligence failures and why was the military positioned too far away to come to the aid of a besieged ambassador?

There were other unasked pertinent questions deserving a high profile public airing: What happened in the State Department that fumbled the ambassador’s request for more security? Was underfunding truly an issue requiring prioritization? Why was the ambassador’s visit not seen as deserving priority? What measures has the State Department taken to reduce the possibility of a future attack against our diplomats? How and why did post-Gaddafi Libya’s democratically elected governance fail? What lessons learned can be applied to future situations when a dictator is deposed?

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