Thursday, June 30, 2016

Benghazi Committee’s Event Horizon - Lee Cary

by Lee Cary

When public officials fail to hold each other accountable for negligence, incompetence, and corruption, the entire nation is the victim.

South Carolina Republican Congressman "Trey" Gowdy (R. 4th Dist.) led the House Benghazi Committee into a black hole.

In a CBS Face the Nation video of an interview back on October 18, 2015, Gowdy aimed to fend off criticism of the committee’s efforts saying that he “has a message for his Republican colleagues and friends: ‘Shut up talking about things that you don't know anything about. Unless you're on the committee you have no idea what we've done, why we've done it, and what new facts we have found.’”

The CBS reporter interpreted his language as an effort to fend off criticism that his committee was created to discredit Hillary Clinton.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R. CA.) helped fuel that criticism when he stated that Clinton’s poll numbers had been declining since the committee was formed. 

On June 28, 2016, the House Republicans on the Benghazi Select Committee issued their report. The PDF files of each section can be read here.  The pages are not numbered consecutively, so the total is obscured.  It’s a lot.
And, as was the case with the Affordable Care Act (AKA: ObamaCare), no elected official in the federal government may ever read it all.

In the meantime, two Republican Congressmen (Jim Jordan, Mike Pompeo) provided a 51-page summary of the final report. Here are the highlights of their short version:
I.   The First Victim of War is Truth: The administration misled the public about the events in Benghazi
Officials at the State Department, including Secretary Clinton, learned almost in real time that the attack in Benghazi was a terrorist attack. With the presidential election just 56 days away, rather than tell the American people the truth and increase the risk of losing an election, the administration told one story privately and a different story publicly. They publicly blamed the deaths on a video-inspired protest they knew had never occurred.
II.  Last Clear Chance: Security in Benghazi was woefully inadequate and Secretary Clinton failed to lead
The State Department has many posts but Libya and Benghazi were different. After Qhaddafi, the U.S. knew that we could not count on host nation security in a country where militias held significant power. The American people expect that when the government sends our representatives into such dangerous places they receive adequate protection. Secretary Clinton paid special attention to Libya. She sent Ambassador Stevens there. Yet, in August 2012, she missed the last, clear chance to protect her people.
III. Failure of Will: America did not move heaven and earth to rescue our people
The American people expect their government to make every effort to help those we put in harm’s way when they find themselves in trouble. The U.S. military never sent assets to help rescue those fighting in Benghazi and never made it into Libya with personnel during the attack. And, contrary to the administration’s claim that it could not have landed in Benghazi in time to help, the administration never directed men or machines into Benghazi.
IV.  Justice Denied: The administration broke its promise to bring the terrorists to justice
After the attacks, President Obama promised “justice will be done.” There is no doubt our nation can make good on that commitment. Yet, almost four years later, only one of the terrorists has been captured and brought to the United States to face criminal charges. Even that terrorist will not receive the full measure of justice after the administration chose not to seek the death penalty. The American people are owed an explanation.
V.  Unanswered Questions: The administration did not cooperate with the investigation
Despite its claims, we saw no evidence that the administration held a sincere interest in helping the Committee find the truth about Benghazi. There is a time for politics and a time to set politics aside. A national tragedy is one of those times when as a nation we should join together to find the truth. That did not happen here. So while the investigation uncovered new information, we nonetheless end the Committee’s investigation without many of the facts, especially those involving the President and the White House, we were chartered to obtain.
And, below is the final paragraph of the short version:
In the end, the administration’s efforts to impede the investigation succeeded, but only in part. The minority members’ and their staff’s efforts to impede the investigation succeeded also, but again only in part. And although we answered many questions, we could not do so completely. What we did find was a tragic failure of leadership—in the run up to the attack and the night of—and an administration that, so blinded by politics and its desire to win an election, disregarded a basic duty of government: Tell the people the truth. And for those reasons Benghazi is, and always will be, an American tragedy.
Lines in the abridged document are blacked out on pages 2, 12, and 33.  Here is the hidden content:
(p.2)   “everybody takes a position to support what we have in store, which we don't know what it is at this point. We are not sure. We don't know if the fight is over or if it is going to be longer.” 
(p.12)  “No. There was nothing out there up until, well, up until there was. I had been out of the gate at 8:30 that night. We had had personnel leaving the compound, and they drove away from our compound and didn't report anything, and I spoke with them subsequently, there was nothing out there.”23 That same witness updated officials in Washington every 15 to 30 minutes throughout the night—”
(p.33)  “wild east.”
Looking back on Congressman Gowdy’s comments in October 2015 about members of the House not on the committee having “no idea what we’ve done,” he can now add much of America to the not-knowing ones.

When public officials fail to hold each other accountable for negligence, incompetence, and corruption, the entire nation is the victim. 

And in this case, “Benghazi is, and always will be, an American tragedy” – enhanced by an inconsequential investigation.

Lee Cary


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