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Posted by on Oct 11, 2012 in 2012 Elections, Featured, International, Politics | 16 comments

Darrell Issa’s Benghazi Circus

WASHINGTON – After watching hours of Rep. Darrell Issa’s oversight hearing The Hill headline remains the story of Wednesday’s congressional circus: “Rep. Issa Closes in on Clinton.” It was a partisan spectacle from start to finish. At a moment when the country truly needed a transparent attempt to get facts, Mr. Issa and his sidekick Jason Chaffetz, along with other preening political show horses, revealed their lack of seriousness on the subject, putting politics above all else. Congress earns the disdain they receive from the American public.

The Republicans believe they’ve found a way to damage Obama on national security, as the video above reveals. They may be correct, because the Obama administration couldn’t have handled the aftermath worse.

Rep. Chaffetz stood out, but not in a good way. He went on CNN earlier in the day to brag “ABSOLUTELY,” proud to have cut State Department funding. But it was his allegations that State was revealing classified documents, which he pulled out of thin air, even taking Issa by surprise, that made him look so foolish.

One of the smartest foreign policy reporters in the business expressed what most were feeling on Twitter:

Ambassador Kennedy, who wasn’t taking any of the Republican charade as anything but what it was, a partisan show, again and again emphasized that the FBI had cleared all material being offered.

Full live coverage of the hearing, which I live tweeted, is here.

Charlene Lamb, deputy assistant secretary in charge of diplomatic security, admitted rejecting requests for security, which made her the easy scapegoat for the Administration’s Libya policy, which as way of disclosure I should say I’ve been against from the beginning.

As to the funding question, Lamb gave conflicting answers minutes apart, though when Rohrbacher got his “no,” he abruptly cut her off.

The title of the Issa’s hearing, “The Security Failures of Benghazi,” gave the purpose of Issa’s hearing away.

Secy. Clinton warned at the time that cuts would endanger national security. Republicans are always targeting the State Department’s budget, because most on the right think diplomacy is for weenies, preferring to load up the Pentagon beyond what we need and can afford.

Dana Milbank made the obvious connection to Issa’s hypocrisy.

For fiscal 2013, the GOP-controlled House proposed spending $1.934 billion for the State Department’s Worldwide Security Protection program — well below the $2.15?billion requested by the Obama administration. House Republicans cut the administration’s request for embassy security funding by $128 million in fiscal 2011 and $331 million in fiscal 2012. (Negotiations with the Democrat-controlled Senate restored about $88 million of the administration’s request.) Last year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that Republicans’ proposed cuts to her department would be “detrimental to America’s national security” — a charge Republicans rejected.

After Rep. Issa blew it on Fast and Furious, making a fool of himself, he’s making sure not to shoot too high and miss. But his target is clear.

The Washington Post picked up the same framing as The Hill.

Facts are important and there are many questions to ask, including of the State Department, though intelligence and DoD should be brought in as well. But the goal wasn’t answers on Wednesday. The goal was to humiliate President Obama in an election year.

Former Green Beret Lt. Col. Wood, as well as another security expert, Mr. Nordstrom gave damning testimony of the lack of security, leaving open questions for which the Administration must answer. But the partisan nature, with Issa choosing that over transparency, diminished the power of both men’s experienced accounts.

Ambassador Stevens knew the security reality, while choosing to not only move out of Tripoli to the Benghazi location, but remain as threats mounted, as well as attacks on the consulate escalated. This is what no one wants to talk about, but which Ambassador Kennedy, who was strong and forceful, continued to emphasize. The foreign service needs to be in these dangerous places. You can make them safe, but you can’t protect them against everything.

It was a precarious situation at best, as I wrote about in another piece yesterday, covering this issue from top to bottom.

It’s a hero’s job what the foreign service does in far away places and it’s dangerous, too, diplomatic soldiers putting their lives on the line. We are reminded of it yet again through the deaths in Benghazi.

The Obama administration remains on the grill over Benghazi. Trying to keep your job while forgetting to do your job, which begins with communicating to the American people when things go wrong in foreign lands, is a perilous road in today’s 24/7 multi-media landscape, as has been proven through Benghazi.

Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media blog www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women and power.

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Copyright 2012 The Moderate Voice
  • ShannonLeee

    further proving the incompetence on both sides of the isle…

    On side cut funding, while the other side ignored requests.
    The State Dept should still take the largest blame here..no you cant protect our people from everything, but certain volatile countries require special security measures.

    and we are just now hearing about another US official being killed in Yemen.

  • It’s U.S. policy that should be on the grill. The Libyan bombing was a mistake from the start.

  • dduck

    This was not a fair hearing, that is true. Issa is a show boater, true.
    But, both the WH and State have lots to be sorry for.
    Perhaps a senate committee hearing, hopefully with Rice, will be fairer.

    TM, what policy, how do you mean that?

  • ShannonLeee

    “simply concede that the White House is responsible for allowing Americans to die because of red tape.”

    eh? Instead of being insulted, you might try to be an open minded reader. I don’t think anyone is blaming the WH.

  • slamfu

    It really irritates me when bad things happen, people want to shift the blame to the most expedient political opposition. This was a terrorist attack, and it appears a co-ordinated one. In a pretty unstable part of the world. The GOP wants to blame the administration, and the administration wants to blame the GOP cuts, and I don’t see either one spending half the energy on the guys who did it as they expend on eachother. I’m sure in 20/20 hindsight its obvious steps could have been taken, but the reality is there are a lot of guys with guns over there who don’t like us, and sooner or later we are going to get hit at a weak spot, like this one. We should be honoring those that died trying to help get Libya, a newly minted and struggling democracy, on its feet, instead of pointing fingers. Apparently neither party is sufficiently concerned with the threat, or our energies would be focused outwards, not inwards. Its truly sad.

    On another note, I was pleasantly surprised that the Libyans seemed to rally in support of our people, and seemed to take action against the militias in the area that were responsible. Even the brand new Libyans can formulate a faster and more coherent response than our guys. That is both encouraging for them and discouraging for us.

  • scparegien

    I’m blaming the White House for attempting to cover it up. That’s right. There’s my open mindedness. I read the article three times. Twice I have to read about Issa “making a fool of himself” when I have to watch, read and listen to news outlets feed us the official White House response that this was all the result of that internet video. Locally my newspaper did a front page AP story on the man who made the video and how he’s tied to a Christian retreat in our area. Is that news? It is if we are told it is I guess. WE, the American public, were lied to (my 12 year old son comes home from school and asks me about this video because his teachers are reverifying it as the cause of these attacks) and this article is about Issa. That’s my point. Where’s the real fool. We have been made fools by Clinton’s response to all of this and she works for the White House. No more passing the buck. ..

  • slamfu

    First off, there were in fact numerous video related violent protests in the region, so its entirely possible that the attack was one of those. We now know it wasn’t, but because they attributed it to the wrong reason to start with ..Its chaos over there. What if they said it was a terrorist attack and it turned out to not be? I suppose then there would be articles about how the administration sees terrorists where there are none.

  • dduck
  • dduck

    As usual, it is the cover up that gets you in the most trouble. Ironically, it would have been so easy to just say we are gathering the facts and we will let you know what happened. The cover ups, not just this one IF there was one, always assumes we are idiots.

    Throwing Rice to the lions was stupid, they like raw meat as is now being thrown, even the NYT can’t duck the story now that the State Dept. has split off.
    Hillary stumping for Obama? Nah.

  • ShannonLeee

    Got ya, the sentence,

    You seem to be irate over politics as usual and simply concede that the White House is responsible for allowing Americans to die because of red tape

    read weird to me.

    The issue does not go to the White House, it just doesn’t. Someone at State should have heeded the warnings, but did not. Too many people were out talking about what it was or wasn’t before the facts came in. I would consider and believe the idea that the WH was trying to find the best way to cover their butts in all of this in the same way that I believe that Issa is more politically driven than he is driven for the truth.

    We see politicians acting like politicians and point fingers at the guy on the other side. That is politics 3 weeks before a Presidential election…and yes the President should take some hits on it.

    As for a cover up….that is Fox news talking.

  • dduck

    SL, what’s the matter don’t you like MD? She isn’t with Fox you know.

  • ShannonLeee

    I dont read her stuff, but I do find this statement appalling

    W.’s administration played up Al Qaeda ties, exploiting 9/11 to invade Iraq, which the neocons had wanted to do all along. The Obama administration sidestepped Al Qaeda ties in the case of the Libyan attack to perpetuate the narrative that the president had decimated Al Qaeda when Osama bin Laden was killed, and to preclude allegations that they were asleep at the switch on the anniversary of 9/11

    that is one hell of a false equivalence and a serious reach. I can see the Obama Admin wanting to get in front of this thing because they were not prepared for the 911 ann…ok, but for the purpose of the narrative that the pres decimated Al Qaeda?? That is just silly…and a massive leap in logic.

    Also comparing Rice going to talk shows and Powell going to the UN is yet another major false equivalence…

    at this point, I dont see much value in reading any more. I dont follow the author… whatever political party she follows… and this first part of the article is terrible.

  • scparegien

    I’m not fox news and I’m tired of politicians lying. That’s all. The “video” excuse is clearly a made up one. Look up what a red herring is. The administration was so quick to put all of this on some obscure video and now it has come out that the administration knew within 24 hours that the attacks were planned. Stop apologizing for either the white houses mistakes or -I’ll just say it- lies. But don’t listen to me. I’ll just leave it at this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=A3ldyGsZ1Io#!

  • dduck

    SL, I apologize for not being clearer. MD is a good writer and often funny, but she is a big time liberal. That she should write about complicity when her own NYT is guilty of it makes me give her kudos. BTW, she massacres Mitt and the rest of the Reps.
    So, it is not only Fox, but others that have gone after the WH on this.

  • dduck

    Sc, thanks, that was very touching, although I think Cooper milked it too much.

  • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

    SCparegien: Hi there. Read the Commenters Rules at the top of the page. The commenters area at TMV is kept for thoughtful civil comments, discussion, debate and teaching. The key word is civil. Stay to the topic of the post, not the writer, not the site, not other commenters and all will be well. Read the Commenters Rules. They are simple and civil. Thanks.

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