Benghazi attack

Chairman Trey Gowdy

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC04), chair of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, speaks in an interview 16 October 2015.  (Detail of photo by Getty Images)

“I would say in some ways these have been among the worst weeks of my life. Attacks on your character, attacks on your motives, are 1,000-times worse than anything you can do to anybody physically―at least it is for me.”

Rep. Trey Gowedy (R-SC04)

The first point, to wonder what it is Mr. Gowdy, the chair of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, thinks he is doing to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, should meet resistance; set that urge aside. There is a lot going on, here. Rachel Bade of Politico hopes to explain:

Gowdy says the specifics of his rebuttals don’t matter; he feels he “just can’t win.

“I think that’s just [the Democrats’] MO: If you can’t attack the facts, you can attack the investigators … just attack, attack, attack and something will take hold,” he said. “[A]t some point, maybe something will stick, or maybe you get them off track or you get them to do or say something stupid, then you can seize on that.”

He also lays some blame at the media’s feet, arguing they’re too quick to report Democrats’ accusations without checking the merits, or the story of an ex-committee staffer who accused the panel of focusing on Clinton.

“You can work your entire career to have a reputation, and then someone you have no recollection of ever meeting sits down with a reporter and you’re immediately in a position of having to defend and it’s impossible to prove a negative,” he said.

This is a basic political maneuver very much associated with Karl Rove: Assign your greatest weakness to your opponent. With Republicans, it has pretty much become a tell: “I mean, honestly,” Gowdy complained of Huma Abedin’s testimony, “have you ever heard a more absurd critique than leaking the fact that one of the more recognizable people in the world was coming to Capitol Hill?”

This is a problematic complaint. Trey Gowdy is simply not an honest man.

(more…)

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What Americans Wanted

Rep Trey Gowdy (R-SC04), chair of the House Select Committee on Benghazi Conspiracy Theories.  (Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP).

Post-something?

The election of President Obama in 2008 was heralded by some as the beginning of a “post-racial” society; then reality set in and Republicans reminded us why that hope had not come to pass.

President Obama himself hoped to be a “post-partisan” president; then reality set in and Republicans reminded us why that could not happen.

Some have gone so far as to speculate that the GOP has become “post-policy”, and there is considerable evidence for that argument.

But on Benghazi, Republicans appear to have set a new standard. Post-reality? It is hard to say.

Speaker John A. Boehner announced Monday he will reappoint Rep. Trey Gowdy as chairman of the Select Committee on the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya in the 114th Congress.

“On September 11, 2012, four Americans were killed in a brutal terrorist attack in Libya. Two years later, the American people still have far too many questions about what happened that night — and why,” Boehner said in a statement. “That’s why I will reappoint Rep. Trey Gowdy and the Republican members of the House Select Committee to investigate the events in Benghazi in the 114th Congress. I look forward to the definitive report Chairman Gowdy and the Select Committee will present to the American people.”

(Eldridge)

Let us consider:

The House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, the House Armed Services Committee, and the State Department’s independent Accountability Review Board have all published reports on the 2012 attack, and each found the same thing: none of the conspiracy theories are true.

In addition, the attack has been scrutinized by the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Senate Homeland Security Committee, the House Oversight Committee, and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, each of which has held hearings, and each of which failed to find even a shred of evidence to bolster the conspiracy theorists.

Do Boehner and other Republicans believe their own allies are somehow in on the conspiracy? That GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate have somehow been co-opted into hiding imaginary evidence?

(Benen)

There is no point in complaining. This sort of determined paranoia is exactly what Americans just voted for.

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Eldridge, David. “Boehner Reappoints Gowdy to Head Benghazi Panel”. Roll Call. 24 November 2014.

Benen, Steve. “When even ‘definitive’ isn’t enough for the House GOP”. msnbc. 25 November 2014.

¡Benghazi! (Walk and Chew Tinfoil Mix)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) thinks his fellow Republicans are full of crap because they couldn't find a way to support his pet tinfoil conspiracy theory.

Sometimes we need a specific setup to make the punch ilne; this isn’t high comedy theory, or anything, but part of the latest episode in the Benghazi debacle only stands out in relationship unto itself, that this is the House Intelligence Committee report:

A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and asserted no wrongdoing by Obama administration appointees.

Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.

(Dilanian)

So let that be a lesson; yes, when it comes down to the proverbial brass tacks, Congress can occasionally be expected to do its job. There are, of course, any number of explanations for the GOP’s partisan pandering over the interim, and a lot of it just comes down to fundraising to the one and the difference between acknowledging or exploiting human frailty to the other. The tinfoil scheme was largely a fundraising gig, you know? Intended to fleece willing sheep. Right?

“I think the report is full of crap,” [Sen. Lindsey] Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union” ....

.... CNN host Gloria Borger then told Graham that the House report concludes that the administration received bad information at first and did not lie.

“That’s a bunch of garbage,” Graham shot back. “That’s a complete bunch of garbage.”

(MacNeal)

Oh.

I guess tinfoil is as tinfoil does.

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Dilanian, Ken. “House intel panel debunks many Benghazi theories”. The Big Story. 21 November 2014.

MacNeal, Caitlin. “Lindsey Graham Won’t Accept New Benghazi Report: It’s ‘Full Of Crap'”. Talking Points Memo Livewire. 23 November 2014.

Something, Something, Something, Benghazi

Benghazi burns, 11 September 2012

There really is nothing new about the idea that American politics is something akin to a cross between professional wrestling and late-night comedy, but Republicans of late have set their own standards for Conservatives Gone Wild. Steve Benen compiled a top ten list of strange Republican reactions to the news of a Special Operations Forces raid that captured Ahmed Abu Khattala, allegedly the ringleader of the 2012 attack against the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya. No, really, a top ten list.

4. Obama should put Ahmed Abu Khattala in Guantanamo. This gem, pushed by Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, argues that the terrorist suspect shouldn’t be tried in courts with a great track record for convicting and imprisoning terrorists. (Wasn’t McCain the guy who, in 2008, said the United States needs to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay? Does McCain even remember his own position?) Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy, after hearing about McCain’s and Graham’s appeal, was quoted as saying,”Oh for God’s sake ….” which seems like the appropriate reaction.

Yes, really. And, well, yes, there certainly is idiocy on the list exceeding a U.S. Senator announcing that he has no faith in the United States and their people. Book tour IRS? Something about golf? Not good enough? Not fast enough? Maybe President Obama should have taken a note from his predecessor’s book and announced, six months after the attack, “I truly am not that concerned about him. You know, I just don’t spend that much time on him, to be honest with you.” After all, when Bush decided he was not concerned about catching Osama bin Laden …?

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Benen, Steve. “‘Good news … I guess'”. msnbc. 17 June 2014.