No matter how many times it is called “phony” or the administration blames Fox News for keeping the scandal alive, the issue of Benghazi and the September 11, 2012 attacks remains alive and well. And this fact is damaging to presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, the former Secretary of State under President Barack Obama. A recent Pew Research Center/USA Today poll ranked the death of those four Americans that night in Benghazi as the “worst thing about the career of [Hillary] Clinton,” followed by her husband’s affair, according to Bloomberg this March.
The Democratic establishment has started to complain that this is Republican politicking because of Clinton’s unannounced, but presumed, candidacy. But the issue cuts both ways: the Democratic establishment has a glaring conflict of interest when it comes to finding out the truth about the Benghazi attacks because they don’t want some of their own tarnished in the process.
“The total cost of compliance with Benghazi-related congressional requests sent to the department and other agencies is estimated to be in the millions of dollars,” stated the Pentagon in a March 11 letter, according to the Associated Press.
“Congressional Republicans have been relentless in investigating the attack, arguing that the Obama administration misled the American people about a terror attack during the heat of the presidential campaign,” reports the Associated Press. “The GOP is determined to press ahead, especially since the assault on the mission occurred during Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.” This manufactured public relations framework is aided by the fact that the House GOP established a website dedicated to the investigation into the Benghazi attacks, and has released a number of reports that are authored by the House majority without input from their increasingly alienated minority Congressional partners.
But the converse remains true. Why hasn’t the Democratic leadership forged ahead on the Benghazi issue to investigate and then close it once and for all? There are real issues that remain to be settled in this controversy, such as why the security was so inadequate at the U.S. Mission that night despite escalating threats, and why the military was so poorly positioned on the anniversary of September 11, 2001. One must ask whether this reluctance comes because the investigation might harm those in power at the time—President Obama and Hillary Clinton?
And if the Republicans are engaged in a “witch-hunt,” as Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA)—who solicited the Pentagon letter—contests, why, then, has House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) refused to create a Select Committee to investigate the scandal despite ongoing pressure from a number of groups and even relatives of the deceased?
“Instead, media consumers are left with the narrative that this is a political battle rather than a search for the truth, and that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and his Oversight and Government Reform Committee are composed of belligerent politicians who care little about decorum or etiquette,” I wrote for Accuracy in Media back in October last year. “(That, according to Politico, seemed to be the greater takeaway.)” And the same messaging has continued to this day.
Now this issue is heating up, and the complicit media are quick to promote the party in power’s message. “A House Republican chairman is doggedly pursuing the question of whether military personnel were told to ‘stand down’ during the 2012 deadly assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya,” reported the Associated Press on March 28. “The panel’s persistence on an issue the military considers settled underscores that Republicans have no plans to relent in their politically charged investigation of the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans as President Barack Obama sought re-election that fall” (emphasis added).
In the MSNBC piece “Some Conspiracy Theories Aren’t Cheap,” Steve Benen writes that “These GOP lawmakers aren’t just spinning their wheels, looking for election gimmicks; they’re wasting our resources.” Politico says that Benghazi has “become a catchphrase signifying conservative suspicion of the Obama administration” and reports that all 17 Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee “demand” that Chairman Darrell Issa end his probe into the attacks.
Politico’s John Bresnahan also made sure to mention the Hillary connection. “Democrats privately believe that Issa is using Benghazi to try to hurt Clinton’s possible presidential ambitions in 2016,” he reports. At least Bresnahan was more honest; he reports the source of such complaints as being with the party in power instead of placing the blame on the GOP for politicizing the issue, as Businessweek and the Associated Press did.
“[Oversight spokesman Frederick] Hill said the reason the panel continues to probe the attacks—as well as pursues its investigation into allegations that the IRS improperly targeted conservative nonprofit groups—is because the Obama administration has turned it into a battle between the committee and the administration’s legal teams, slowing down the process dramatically while exponentially increasing costs,” reports Bresnahan. So the fight goes both ways. The media shouldn’t excuse the administration in the process.
This commentary appeared at AIM.org and is reprinted here with permission.