If you want the 5 second spoiler to this article, here it is: According to a CNN/ORC Poll, 72% of the country views the work of the Congressional Select Committee on Benghazi as nothing more than a partisan witch hunt and nothing that happened today changed that.
The joke that was this committee’s supposed hearing with former Secretary of State Clinton was made apparent with two discordant messages from Republicans on the committee. First was chairman Gowdy who tried to claim that the goal of the select committee was to get to the truth and not attack Hillary Clinton. He so badly wanted to get that message across that he used the word “truth” no less than twenty one times in his opening statement.
The first problem with this is that seven other congressional investigations have been conducted on Benghazi. We have enough findings on paper to fill the gold vaults at Fort Knox. We know the truth. This wasn’t about the truth.
The second problem with the “It’s about finding out the truth regarding Benghazi and not about Hillary Clinton" line was Indiana Congresswoman Susan Brooks visual props which featured no less than several tens of thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails, the vast majority of which are personal and have nothing to do with the affairs of the Government let alone Benghazi.
So this isn’t about Hillary Clinton with a stack of her emails a foot and a half high on this congresswoman’s desk? That right there is the tell that explains what this whole select committee is about.
Of course we knew all this from two congressional Republicans who said in the last month that the entire purpose of the Benghazi Select Committee was to hurt Hillary Clinton's chances to win the 2016 Presidential election. Representative Richard Hana said it on October 14 and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said it a few weeks before that. We know this is all a partisan farce.
The news of the day in Conservative media is that Republicans believed they found two or three cases where Hillary contradicted herself.
I was asked about those situations on the Steve Malzberg show on Newsmax TV. One of those is where Republicans claim that at the same time that Hillary was sending out emails calling the attacks a Terrorist attack, in public she was saying something different, that it was about the anti-Muslim video.
If this sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because Republicans tried to assert some conflict on this during the 2012 President election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Most of the public was smart enough then to see through what the Republicans were trying to sell. It was a confused situation, the anti-Muslim video had come out and caused violent protests at several embassies throughout the middle east, and if the attack on Benghazi wasn’t related, it was a pretty strange coincidence
My answer to all of this was simple, Hillary had her suppositions but couldn’t prove anything. She voiced her suppositions to friends and family in emails. I am sure other members of the administration had suppositions too. Until those suppositions were proven, the administrations official line was to be cautious about publicly pointing a finger at terrorism or anything else besides what seemed to be the same reasons elsewhere (the anti-Muslim video).
This should be familiar to anyone working at a company that has any kind of media policy regarding talking to the media about the company. You might have private ideas of things going on but you cannot discuss them with the media without permission and certainly if the folks in charge of media relations at that company aren’t sure about what has taken place. This isn’t that different.
As I said, Republicans have tried to make a big deal of this, but there is no there there. What does it matter what it was called in the confusion of the first 24-48 hours if when we received incontrovertible evidence two days later the correct culprit was called out? No one has as yet told me the difference of calling it terrorism or not terrorism right away. This happened September 11, 2012, the election was November. The effect on the election whether the right answer was figured out on September 11 or September 13 was/would be zero.
Even this amount of space in this article given to all of that is more than it deserves.
Here is the coup de grace on all of this silliness, one of the masterminds of the Benghazi attacks, Ahmed Abu Khattala told Reuters before his arrest that the video in fact was the motivation for the Benghazi attacks. Khattala said:
"The film which insulted the Prophet was a direct attack on our values and if America wants good relations with the Muslim world it needs to do so with respect," Abu Khattala said. "If they want to do it with force, they will be met with force."
There are other things Conservatives are pointing to that are equally silly. The issue raised about the multiple requests for additional security were well answered by Secretary Clinton when she said that the requests went to the folks at State who handle embassy security. Hillary is not a personal or embassy security expert, nor is it a requirement for the SecState to be those things and I don’t think any Secretary of State has ever been those things.
I think it’s fair to point out, when discussing the security of American personnel overseas, that most people crying about Hillary regarding Benghazi are old enough to have been around and opining when over 220 Marines, 18 Sailors and three Soldiers were killed in a terrorist bombing of the Marines barracks in Beirut on October 23, 1983 under the administration of Ronald Reagan. No Republicans in congress or elsewhere cried out for congressional hearings after this disaster. Reagan was allowed to address this with an internal administration investigation only. And as far as warnings go, the American embassy in Beirut was bombed by terrorists only six months before (April 18, 1983) the Marine barracks were hit killing 17 Americans. That’s much more of a clue that Americans were being targeted in Lebanon by terrorists than anything that was going on in Libya. Again, there was no clamoring for congressional investigations on the Beirut bombing by Republicans. No Republicans cried that Reagan was at fault or that additional measures should have been taken or that warnings should have been heeded.
The good news about this for people really interested in the truth is that Hillary sailed through these hearings with grace and with Presidential bearing. If it had an effect, I think this helped her more than it hurt her. What is more true, however, is that if you are one of the 72% who thought these hearings were a partisan witch-hunt before Hillary testified, you are certain of that afterwards, and if you are one of the 23% who thinks there were good reason for the hearings, the supposed contradictions, silly as they are as I noted above, have added fuel to your suspicions.