The terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which took the lives of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, on September 11, 2012, was a horrible tragedy. Shamelessly, however, congressional Republicans have made it into a travesty, a grubby fundraising contrivance to exploit the deaths of patriots serving their country. Republicans have pursued an ongoing political spectacle, a faux blame-game undertaking that has no interest in finding the truth—only the narrow goal of scoring political points to raise money. And now they are at it again.
On May 8, 2014, Speaker of the House John Boehner, called on House Republicans to open a new investigation of the 2012 Benghazi attack. For all practical purposes the new inquiry was approved by a straight partisan vote: 232 to 186, with seven weak-kneed Democrats joining the Republican majority to support the new inquiry.
When they started the first Benghazi investigation over a year ago, I thought they were looking to embarrass the Obama Administration. I wrote that their effort to create a scandal where no scandal existed would be difficult to sustain, explaining that the “legs on this so-called scandal” had been “buckling and wobbling for months.” I figured the GOP would soon move on. What I did not realize was Benghazi had resonated with Republican followers, who loved the (often bogus) attacks on the Obama Administration over its handling of Benghazi. The investigations were prompting Republicans to send money to express their approval of such activities. So Republican leaders are at again and doubling down.
Findings of Prior Benghazi Inquiries Are Being Ignored
Before Speaker Boehner created the newest Benghazi panel, according to the Associated Press: “Benghazi has produced thirteen public hearings, the release of 25,000 pages of documents and 50 separate briefings.” There have been seven prior Benghazi investigations. Needless to say, these hearings, trips to Libya and endless congressional briefings have cost the government—more to the point, American taxpayers about whom Republicans often pretend to have such great concern—untold millions of dollars.
This new investigation is being undertaken on the thinnest of reasons. The New York Times noted that notwithstanding all the prior inquiries, Republicans want the new investigation because “after the White House was forced to release a new email that shows that administration officials tried to shape the way Susan E. Rice, then the ambassador to the United Nations, discussed the attack on several Sunday morning news programs, when she said the chaos in the Middle East at the time may have prompted the deadly attack.”
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who made a similar but unsuccessful effort in the Senate to either join the new House inquiry, or launch a separate Senate investigation, nicely demonstrated the purely partisan superciliousness of these undertakings. Cruz said what he really wanted to know, in addition to the answers to series of questions that have already been answered repeatedly in prior investigations, the answers to such pressing questions as: “Did President Obama sleep the night of September 11, 2012 [the night of the Benghazi attack]? Did Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton [sleep]?” Ted Cruz has given a bad name to being a former Supreme Court law clerk with his frivolous Tea Party politics.
Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen summed up this new Republican investigation nicely: “So what is Benghazi? Beats me, I am tempted to say. But I recognize it as a transparent Republican attempt to provide the party’s base with grist for its fantasy mill. Is it possible the Obama administration fudged the nature of the attack, refusing to apply the term ‘terrorist’? Yes, of course. Did the White House spinmeisters put their hands all over it? Could be. But is any of this so momentous that it has required 13 public hearings and now a select House committee that will delve and delve feverishly—for what?”
If anyone claims this new Benghazi investigation has any merit whatsoever, that is a person unfamiliar with the facts. Yet Republicans are doing what they do so well—engaging in totally useless partisan nonsense to satisfy that element of their party that has no sense of political propriety whatsoever. The true scandal of the Benghazi terror attack is how Republicans have abused their congressional power and used this incident to raise money.
Truth Be Damned, Benghazi Is a Money Machine
Rumors on Capitol Hill surrounding the new Benghazi inquiry—one of which made it into print—suggest that Speaker Boehner created this new select committee in the House because he wanted to get the Benghazi inquiry away from the irrepressibly irresponsible chairman of the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee, Darrell Issa (R-CA). According to the New York Times, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi noted that Issa is widely viewed as “damaged goods” for early and abusive investigation of Benghazi, which was handled with slightly less decorum and astuteness than a typical kindergarten-level kangaroo court.
While that might well be the case in trying to close down Issa, there are two other House committee chairs who did not want this new inquiry: Mike Rogers (R-MI), who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, and Buck McKeon (R-CA), the chair of the House Armed Services Committee. Both Rogers and McKeon have conducted extensive Benghazi investigations, but unlike Darrell Issa who has a propensity for making baseless and false accusations, they found problems but nothing seriously wrong in the Benghazi tragedy. It should be noted that privately both Rogers and McKeon hold Issa’s work in minimal high esteem (as the diplomats put it).
Nonetheless, Issa has refused to back down, and plans his own continuing investigation of Benghazi, most recently taking the unprecedented step of issuing a subpoena for Secretary of State John Kerry. Issa could care less that Kerry has a few more important things to do than perform at Issas’s circus. Why is Issa continuing? For the same reason that Speaker Boehner is calling for another new panel to inquire. This is all about money.
The New Republic reported how Issa has effectively used his post as the head of the House Government Oversight committee to raise untold amounts of money because of his Benghazi investigations. While his colleagues might not think well of his style, Issa has written the playbook for the House leadership, and no sooner had Speaker Boehner announced formation of the new House select committee to launch a new Benghazi investigation, than National Republican Congressional Committee had sent a fundraising email claiming this investigation would not let anyone “get away,” and soliciting donation.
These fundraising efforts will only increase when the new select committee gets started. And it is unclear at this time how Democrats are going to deal with this latest investigation. It is also unclear how Republicans are going to reinvestigate this matter that has already been over investigated. To date, there is no evidence of serious misfeasance, malfeasance or nonfeasance by the real targets of the investigation: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama. Were there mistakes? For sure, but for Republicans the biggest mistake is that top officials were not mind-readers, and then when it happened, they didn’t admit to mistakes they had not made. Notwithstanding the difficultly of this subject already having been over-investigated, the new inquiry will proceed through the 2014 November election—unless it backfires sooner and Speaker Boehner closes it down. This abuse of power to raise money is not without risks for Republicans.
Potential Outcome of the New Benghazi Inquiry
Speaker Boehner has selected Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC) to chair the new twelve-member select committee (7 Republicans and 5 Democrats, if they decide to participate). Before taking this assignment, Gowdy was best known outside of South Carolina and Washington, DC for his hair. His hair styling, or lack thereof, has long been striking and distinctive. But Speaker Boehner is counting on Gowdy’s background and experience as a prosecutor, including six years as an assistant United States attorney. Gowdy has a reputation of being smart, savvy and ambitious. This assignment is his big chance to play on the national stage.
Gowdy has already shown caution. Shortly after his selection, and when appearing on Fox News, Gowdy thoughtlessly responded to how he might deal with the standard procedure of the executive branch unwilling to assist with the politics of the legislative branch. Gowdy said, “If an administration is slow-walking document production, I can’t end a trial simply because the defense won’t cooperate.” (Emphasis added.) But Gowdy quickly walked back his allusion to calling his Benghazi inquiry “a trial.” Gowdy, while clearly a GOP ideologue, is also obviously politically attuned. Most notably, Gowdy has also been smart in distancing himself from GOP efforts to use his inquiry as a fundraising tool, so he fully recognizes the perils of his new position. This will not stop the fundraising, because that is the reason for the inquiry, but it places the chairman above the sleaze.
This is a win-win, low risk political undertaking for Speaker Boehner. It is a pure political plum to his Tea Party caucus, which has been requesting such a select committee inquiry of Benghazi since shortly after the tragedy occurred. This concession to his crazies will buy him goodwill. He is trusting the ambitious Gowdy to keep it sane. If they turn up something new and embarrassing on the Obama Administration, great. If they the find nothing new, so what, they will have raised potentially millions of dollars before the election, and the committee goes out of business at the end of this Congress. Finding something new, however, does have risks for two chairmen: Mike Rodgers and Buck McKeon. They will have to explain how they missed it. But that is not likely to happen.
Democrats have been worried about how to deal with this select committee. Nancy Pelosi should make it clear this undertaking is, in fact, one of the GOP’s more disgusting money-raising shames. Intelligent voters know how to handle such information.
And Watergate was not a fundraising lollapolozza for the Democrats?
What should be frightening about Benghazi is that the Obama Administration was gun running in a very similar fashion as Reagan to the Contras in Nicaragua. These imperialist games usually end badly
WELL SAID, BUT SAD THAT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY SEEMS TO FORGET THE 200+ MARINES WHO DIED ON REGAN’S WATCH IN BEIRUT. THE DEMOCRATS UNITED BEHIND THE PRESIDENT, NOT LIKE THE REPUBLICANS, WHO RATHER DENIGRATE HIM AND HIS OFFICE.
Kind of like your Democrat pals did with Sandyhook, the Iraq War, the Giffords shooting, Katrina.
Mr. John Dean needs to realize that his Ivory Tower may not oversee all of the US topography. I for one have watched all seven of the investigations closely, or as closely as a democratically run government will allow a normal Joe Blow citizen. This voting citizen and nearly all of the voting citizens that I know and talk to, wonder why the US Government has not prosecuted OR held accountable for any of the errors leading to this event.
“Findings of Prior Benghazi Inquiries Are Being Ignored” What I have echoes what Mr. Dean has done with his article: divert attention. I am very thankful that previous ‘investigations’ are being ignored. In everyone of them that I have seen results from there has been a decidedly protective position taken. Conclusions drawn that ALMOST lead to culpability. Facts that lead to more questions; that were not asked. Questions that were never asked of some individuals, and administrations balking during discovery.
No, the previous investigations were dog and pony shows at finding facts, and that is why the voters are pushing republicans to take a fresh look. If Democrats would give ear to voter concerns about this topic democrats would be looking into it. I feel that perhaps those that are accountable for the deaths of the “patriots serving their country” were democrats who are avoiding accountability.
Mr. Dean proves it’s own point by quoting Richard Cohen. “What is Beghazi? Beats me..” Well I would like to know, why doesn’t he? “Did the White House spinmeisters put their hands all over it? Could be.” Could be? I would actually like to know: Did they? Who are they? Why are they not being punished for hiding facts from the American people? What other facts are they hiding from the American people? Is this really how this administration works? The point is that we the people don’t like to be given spin, especially when American lives are at stake.
“It’s all about money!”
Yes, it MIGHT be. Or, even, it IS. The point? The only reason Mr. Dean is writing this piece is for the money. Don’t try to mince words or divert (again). This article will somehow benefit Mr. Dean, and/or the Democratic party, which benefits Mr. Dean. Whoop-de-doo! I’m willing to pay for an actual investigation that shows what really happened. Oh, and, wait. DEMOCRATS are worried about spending money?!? I think this is solid proof that all Mr. Dean is just another fop attempting keep the American public in check, or in the dark. Either way, an argument against the Government spending money coming from the Dem side of the isle should always be looked at with scrutiny. Spending money is solidly a Democratic undertaking.
Potential Outcome of the New Benghazi Inquiry
Well at least here, Mr. Dean hits the mark. “If they turn up something new and embarrassing on the Obama Administration, great.” Yes. If we have an administration that considers the unneeded “deaths of patriots serving their country” as just an embarrassment, then mission accomplished. We already have an administration where “the standard procedure of the executive branch unwilling to assist with the politics of the legislative branch.” is SOP.
The resounding question should be “Why is there a faction in control within our government that wishes not to have the truth about the death of an US Ambassador and his security detail kept from the voters.” Mr. Dean is just another mouthpiece for an agenda of disinformation.
Very interesting take and a well written slice of journalism. It would be better received, one would think logically, if it were not proffered by someone with a number of massive and epic ethics failures while serving under a corrupt and dishonest President, Nixon. I suppose we all move on, but we all have a past and those who write extended essays on ethics might want to have a small section where they at least mention their criminal past.
No secrets there. Mr Dean’s record is public. So what about you? You obviously want to shoot the messenger, but do you have ANY credibility?
Mr Dean has made mistakes, admitted them, and leaned from them. I cannot think of a SINGLE currently active neo-GOP politician for whom I could make such a claim, no matter how hard I stretched. You might ask about Chris Christie, but it isn’t yet clear if he learned anything, and I’m not sure he is actually a neo-GOP pol or is just exploiting their ignorance. He sometimes seems to be an actual survivor of the GOP.
Oh, wait. I see. Your ad hominem argumentation has succeeded in changing the topic.
The inducement by America of foreign countries to overthrow their leaders is nothing new. Questionable justifications to the American public is quite common with both political parties using “scare tactics” for fund raising. As for Benghazi, a ruler was overthrown, another government was put in place that was later rejected by it’s people. In the interim there appeared to be an arms supply operation that was destabilizing the MidEast. The White House had knowledge of the CIA directors affair and the activities of a Florida socialite with security clearances. It wasn’t until the CIA was forthcoming with Congress about Benghazi that a resignation was demanded. This begs the question, “Had Gen. Petraeus followed the party line, as others did, would he still have his job”? That too rises to the level of scandal. Is the producer of the supposedly causative video still in jail? Will he be called to testify ?
What a crock. Dean has proven himself, time and time again in recent
years, to be a tool for the Democratic/Progressive political machine
in spite of claims of being an Independent. I subscribe to Justia
Opinions, and read Dean’s columns on a regular basis, and in general he seems to have no objectivity whatsoever and attacks the Republican Party,
politicians, and policies incessantly.
This line from his bio on Wikipedia pretty much says it all, “Dean is currently an
author, columnist, and commentator on contemporary politics, strongly
critical of conservatism and the Republican Party…” For crying out
loud, he’s a commentator on MSNBC which has been shown by several
studies, including one by the Pew Research Center, to be the MOST pro-progressive and anti-conservative biased news network.
Who else finds it offensive that Dean, and Justia, still try to bolster his credibility with the statement, ” John W. Dean, a Justia columnist, is a former counsel to the president.” That was a LONG TIME AGO, and he was counsel for a President who resigned in disgrace. In regard to Watergate and the events preceding and following the break in, the FBI described Dean as, “the master manipulator of the cover-up”.
All of that aside, the latest Benghazi hearing, the FIRST with a select committee, became necessary, and viable, because it took a lawsuit by Judicial Watch to get the administration to release emails and other communications that they had
been illegally withholding from congress and FOIA requests from numerous
parties. A select committee is necessary because the administration
was, and is still, STONEWALLING ( a practice with which Dean is all
too familiar) and the facts are still not all out.
I think you’re a smart fellow, and all that, but I think this column is rather politically insensitive (making an attempt at diplomatic speak). Money is NOT a major concern for the neo-GOP. They have a sufficient supply of large donors. Even if they raise millions of dollars from this partisan pitch, they have a number of donors who could single-handedly match those millions without strain.
The problem, as the neo-GOP perceives it, is that money alone does not always buy sufficient numbers of votes. Yes, they are asking for money, but what they really want are the committed and fired-up voters who will show up this November. If they can get these people to donate a few bucks, okay, but what they actually care about is protecting their increasingly desperate gerrymandering.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to argue that they aren’t pushing the right buttons in this case. It’s not like vast numbers of rational voters are going to rise up and lash out against the craziness and wastefulness of more Benghazi hearings. It seems like the best we rational folks can hope for is neo-GOP overreach in 2015, which may explode in their faces in the election of 2016–but the neo-GOP politicians are NOT capable of planning that far ahead. Just the natural consequence of working for businessmen who can’t think beyond next quarter’s profits?
P.S. One other political omission regarding Ted Cruz. No one (besides himself and a few crazies) takes him seriously. His political purpose is to recalibrate the spectrum. After all, Cruz frequently makes Rand Paul look reasonable, which is kind of impressive, in a bizarre way.
Is Watergate the best you can do? Why no use world war 2 also?