Against vociferous Democratic objections, the House GOP approved a new investigation into the many unanswered questions surround the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing 52-year-old Amb. Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Voting 232-186, the bitterly partisan House established a new bipartisan panel to investigate unanswered questions surrounding the terrorist attack. Only seven House Democrats facing difficult reelection battles joined the GOP effort to open up a new investigation. GOP critics blame the State Department, especially Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, for not providing adequate security to the remote U.S. diplomatic outpost. Democrats charge the GOP with a partisan witch-hunt after seven prior investigations passd around a lot of blame but didn’t charge the White House with wrongdoing.
Establishing a House Select Committee puts pressure on Democrats to participate or risk receiving the brunt of GOP findings having little forgiveness for White House policies. “We will not take any shortcuts to the truth, accountability or justice,” said 64-year-old House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announcing the new panel. Chief among the most unanswered questions is a talking points memo given to 49-year-old former U.N. Amb. Susan Rice who went on several Sunday-morning talk shows at the White House request to disseminate what happened. When Rice told a nationwide TV audience Sept. 15 that the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. mission was due to spontaneous rioting it caused a media firestorm. Rice mentioned nothing to a national TV audience about terrorism less than two months before the presidential election. Rice’s misstatements cost her consideration for Secretary of State.
White House officials insisted that Rice’s statements were prepared by the intelligence community, not White House political operatives concerned about fallout on the presidential race. House Minority Leader and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-Calif.) debated whether or not to supply Democrats on the new panel. She’s concerned about any lingering adverse publicity to Hillary Rodham Clinton if she decides to run for president in 2016. “Our nation deserves better than yet another partisan and political review,” said Pelosi, couching the new panel as a political ploy. Sooner or later, House and Senate Democrats and the White House will have to explain why Rice was sent on national Sunday-morning talk shows to blame the lethal Benghazi attack on anything but terrorism. Obama ran on a platform in 2012, against GOP nominee Mitt Romney, that Wall Street’s alive and Bin Laden’s dead.
Whatever one thinks of former President Bill Clinton, he made a mess for himself and his Party with the Monica Lewinsky affair. While Clinton never really apologized, he finally conceded his relationship with Lewinsky was “wrong” and “inappropriate,” the closet to confessing a sexual encounter. Neither President Barack Obama, nor Vice President Joe Biden, nor his press secretary Jay Carney ever admitted that Rice’s talking points were political motivated to protect Obama’s chances on Election Day. With Clinton’s indiscretions back in the headlines because of 40-year-old Monica Lewinsky’s tell-all article in “Vanity Fair,” it raises old lessons about stonewalling and lying to the press. Obama’s GOP detractors won’t stop on Benghazi precisely because they see the deception and stonewalling. Had the truth about terrorism come out sooner, there’d be no House Select Committee.
Calling Boehners’ new House Select Committee “the crass and unbelievable,” Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) insisted that there’s “no evidence” of wrongdoing so far. “Let’s end this political circus,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), acting just a partisan as White House detractors seeking to score points. Responding to Democrats’ complaint about a witch-hunt, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fl.) asked Democrats to stop the “song and dance” and come clean about Benghazi. Republicans want to know the chain-of-command to Rice’s talking points memo that mentioned nothing Sept. 11, 2012 about terrorism. Whatever the political implications of Boehner’s new Select Committee, it’s necessary to answer questions how Rice allowed the White House to short-circuit her political career. By the time Hillary retired and her name was floated as a replacement, GOP objections hit tidal-wave proportions.
Like so many things in Washington, partisanship drives many political debates especially before elections. With the Senate hanging in the balance, dredging up Benghazi could hurt Democrats heading toward Miderm elections. Dismissing the GOP out-of-hand also smacks of the kind of partisanship that would like to bury a dicey chapter in Obama’s first term. Congressional investigators-indeed the American public-have a right to know if intel was processed to protect the president’s political fortunes. If that’s the case, as many suspect, new rules need to be put in place to prevent manipulation of the intelligence community. “No one will get away,” from the Select Committee’s inquiry, said a Republican National Committee email. No one likes getting put on the hot seat but voters have a right to know whether or not the White House manipulated intel for political gain.