House Republicans on the Select Committee on Benghazi have wasted time and money for two years now investigating the 2012 attack on a diplomatic compound in Libya that left Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead.
Their stated goal was to find out what happened in that attack and how it might have been prevented. But their actual goal is clear: to blame then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for everything and to damage her current campaign for the Democratic nomination for president.
Any doubt about that is eliminated with the educated speculation that the committee’s report will be released during the political conventions this summer or just before the general election in November. Surprise.
The entire project has been a fiasco. In October, Clinton testified for eight hours and made the committee look ridiculous, including the chair, Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina. Gowdy has looked inept since the beginning, a harsh partisan out to get Clinton. But she answered forthrightly and clearly and without much tolerance for nonsense.
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What happened in 2012 was indeed a tragedy. But to attempt to blame it on the secretary of state is ludicrous, and the reason the committee hasn’t delivered any sound results after two years is that the partisan accusations leveled at Clinton have not stuck.
Yet the committee rolls on. The New York Times reports that one general, Gen. Carter F. Ham, who led the U.S. Africa Command on the night of the attack, has been interviewed nine times by investigators but has yet to testify before the committee. This is as transparent a view of the Republican strategy as there is: nine interviews but clearly no “smoking gun” regarding Hillary Clinton, so the committee just keeps endlessly looking. The same goes for the side trip into the area of Clinton’s email server – a purely political move.
Benghazi was investigated by several congressional panels and by the State Department, and steps were taken to improve security for diplomats – although all who take such posts know well the inherent dangers. Of course, the State Department should ensure safety, and the gaps that the Benghazi tragedy revealed should be corrected. But productive action toward that end is hindered by the political motivations of those doing the investigating.
This has never seemed like a clear-headed, responsible investigation. Rather it calls to mind another discredited probe of long ago. It was called Whitewater.