I bet you’re on the beach, lolling in the surf, and surely you’re thinking, “Hey, what’s the latest on Benghazi? Have they nailed Obama yet – for ignoring clear warnings about an impending Al Qaeda attack, for issuing a ‘stand down’ order during the attack, and for covering up all the evidence afterwards?”
Nah, you’re probably too sane for that. Unless you swim with a tinfoil hat.
But the tinfoilers, who have long nurtured loony fantasies of an Obama conspiracy and coverup, are likely to be displeased by yet another congressional report – this one, nearly two years in the making – that has unearthered virtually nothing.
Last week, the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee quietly voted to declassify its completed Benghazi report – which reportedly concludes that (a) there was no clear advance warning of any organized terrorist attack, (b) there was no “stand down” order issued to any American rescuers, (c) there was no politicized effort, by the White House or the intelligence community, to cleanse the terrorist evidence after the incident, and (d) all told, there was no conspiratorial wrongdoing by the Obama administration.
Over the past few days, three Democratic members of the committee have publicly shared those conclusions. In a press release, congressman Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland said that the “bipartisan, factual, definitive report” was “adopted unanimously” by the panel, which is comprised of 12 Republicans and 9 Democrats. Notably, not a single Republican, not even chairman Mike Rogers, has come forward to contest the Democrats’ description of the report. The Republican bluster about Benghazi has been supplanted by blissful silence.
And it’s no surprise that this particular report has deemed Benghazi to be a phony scandal. Why should the House Intelligence Committee be any different from all the previous sleuths?
At least five other congressional panels have already probed Benghazi – the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Senate Armed Services Committee, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee (headed by Inspector Clouseau himself, Darrell Issa), the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee – and none have found evidence of conspiracy or coverup.
Nor did the State Department Accountability Review Board. Nor did the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Nor did Benghazi investigator Thomas Pickering, former three-time ambassador under Ronald Reagan, who said last year that “the notion of a quote ‘coverup’ has all the elements of Pulitzer Prize fiction.”
So is it now conceivable that the Obama haters and paranoids, perhaps chastened by the seventh fruitless investigation, will finally agree to store their tinfoil? Cue the laugh track.
Lest we forget, House Republicans voted recently to launch yet another probe, a special Benghazi committee, to be helmed this fall by colorful South Carolina congressman Trey Gowdy. He said that he intends to tackle various “unanswered questions” – What about the flawed security? Where were the military support units? What about those White House talking points? – that have already been asked and answered umpteen times. Back in the spring, Gowdy also demanded to know why nobody had been arrested for the Benghazi attack, but that question has now been rendered moot.
This, however, was the best line in Gowdy’s opening salvo: “These outstanding questions, and others, are legitimate, and seeking the answer to these questions should be an apolitical process.” Is he serious? An apolitical process? He’s just a carnival barker tasked by House Republicans to coax the tinfoilers into the party tent, to gin them up en masse for the midterm elections.
For those folks, the empirical findings in the House Intelligence Committee report (which has to be declassified by the intelligence community) won’t matter a whit. There is a “paranoid style in American politics,” as the esteemed historian Richard Hofstadter famously wrote, characterized by “heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy,” and any congressional panel that fails to feed the mindset must surely be part of the conspiracy.
So Gowdy will go forth with his political theatre, wasting a few more million bucks of taxpayer money. And rest assured, he will unearth the conspiracy and coverup at roughly the same time that O.J. finds his wife’s killer.
To mark the impending 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation — on Aug. 9, for sweeping and unprecedented crimes against the Constitution — this week I’m highlighting noxious Nixonian nuggets from his White House tapes. Like the time in ’71 when he authorized a burglary at the Brookings Institution think tank. Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States:
“Did they get the Brookings Institute raided last night?”
Aide H. R. Haldemann: “No, sir, they didn’t.”
“Get it done. I want it done. (Banging desk for emphasis.) I want the Brookings Institute safe cleaned out, and have it cleaned out in a way that makes somebody else take the blame.”
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