A few days after print publication, Knight's syndicated newspaper column, which moves twice a week, will be posted. The most recent will appear at the top.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Benghazi? Been there…

Bill Knight column for Mon., Tues. or Wed., July 7, 8 or 9

Six years ago this week, when George W. Bush was still President, terrorists attacked the U.S. consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, killing six.

Ten years ago on July 30, also during the Bush administration, terrorists attacked the U.S. embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, killing two.

From 2002 to 2008, there were at least eight other attacks on U.S. diplomatic sites (not counting Baghdad), yet not one Republican – nor any Democrat – exploited the tragedies to complain about lax security, inadequate response, or Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s competency.

The hype and hypocrisy about Benghazi is as exaggerated and duplicitous as Hollywood’s worst.

On the night of Sept. 11, 2012, a mob attacked the U.S. diplomatic compound and a nearby CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya, killing U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. Since then, many Republican officials have been unrelenting in their criticism of President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the incident.

Within days of House Speaker John Boehner creating the “House Select Committee on Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi,” I happened to watch an old movie I’d recorded from TCM: “Bengazi” (with an old spelling). It’s difficult to determine which is worse: a low-budget imitation of “Casablanca” or a high-profile witch hunt engineered by Right-Wing extremists.

The 1955 RKO movie starred three personal favorite “Richards” (Conte, Erdman and Carlson) plus the always-entertaining Victor McLaglen and the able Mala Powers. But the plot – an American with a shady background teams up with a corrupt Irishman to go after gold previously hidden by Arabs in a deserted mosque during World War II battles in North Africa – lacks almost as much credibility as Fox News and talk radio.

As of this month, there already have been at least 10 Benghazi inquiries, including a 16-month probe by a bipartisan panel, and investigators have found that an amateur video that some Muslims found insulting did play a role in the protest, that security was inadequate (and underfunded by Congress), that there was no proof that some official intentionally sparked the attack, and that no cover-up took place.

Nevertheless, Republicans’ Right Wing has pressed for another look, this one led by Tea Party Congressman Trey Gowdy, the South Carolina Republican who seems to see conspiracies everywhere, notably in his judgment about the Internal Revenue Service’s scrutiny of groups applying for tax-exempt “charity” status (examination required by law and targeting conservative and progressive groups alike).

Two House members from Illinois, U.S. Reps. Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Hoffman Estates), are on the 12-member Select Committee, but insiders say it may be September before public hearings occur.

Gowdy in May complained, “No one has been arrested, prosecuted or punished for the murders of our fellow Americans,” but the FBI and U.S. troops on June 17 captured Ahmed Abu Khattala, the suspected ringleader of the Benghazi attacks who’s pleaded not guilty but said that he and the others there initially were demonstrating because of the controversial video. Some Republicans in Washington conceded that was good news.

As with almost everything since Americans elected Obama in 2008, much of the GOP on Capitol Hill are exaggerating and politicizing something rather than addressing real problems, and this election year promises to see more of that do-nothing mindset.

If the committee is NOT just political posturing, it could ask about atrocities allegedly committed by anti-Moammar Gadhafi rebels in Libya, about why NATO aircraft bombed a Libya TV station (killing three), about the continuing and escalating violence there, and about investigative journalist Seymour Hersh’s stories that the whole Libyan mission was a cover for the CIA to smuggle arms to anti-Assad rebels in Syria – some of whom are now attacking Iraq, in a twisted lesson for foreign-policy mistakes and U.S. involvement in places Americans don’t want our troops and treasures to be risked.

“Bengazi” is better as an old movie than a new excuse to condemn Obama, raise campaign contributions and avoid the hard work of shared governance.

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