mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“An ‘In-Kind Contribution’ To The RNC”: The Benghazi Committee’s Final Report Proves Nothing But Its Own Real Purpose

The GOP-lead Benghazi Committee released their final report on Tuesday morning, claiming that with 81 new witnesses and 75,000 new pages of documents, it “Fundamentally Changes the Public’s Understanding of the 2012 Terrorist Attacks that Killed Four Americans.”

Well… not really. The report offers no game-changing information — there are no “bombshells.” Instead, “new details” attempt to paint the Obama administration as a failing bureaucratic machine that allowed the attack to happen despite knowing about possible threats. By being vague on the details, the committee is letting Republican voters fill in the blanks.

Some of the “new details” include:

What officials discussed at a two-hour White House meeting after the attack. (White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that a House Intelligence committee investigation has already “debunked” allegations that the military was too slow to act, and that the report is so obviously a partisan effort that it should be disclosed as an “in-kind contribution” to the RNC.)

The fact that the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff wasn’t at the meeting, even though he usually would be, “because he went home to host a dinner party for foreign dignitaries.” (According to the Democratic report on Benghazi, there was nothing the Pentagon could have done differently that night to prevent the attack.)

A Fleet Antiterrorism Security operatives in Spain changing in and out of their uniforms four times because officials weren’t sure about the right protocol for introducing U.S. forces. (State Department spokesman Mark Toner said “Concerns about what they wore had no bearing on the timing of their arrival.”)

What the new details do not include is any evidence at all that Hillary Clinton, or the State Department, could have done anything differently to prevent the deaths of four Americans. Instead, it suggests that Clinton and other officials did not properly address possible threats in intelligence reports, and finds that Ambassador Chris Stevens, one of the four victims, was responsible for securing his post.

In this latest episode of the Benghazi Committee show, Republicans also failed to justify the committee’s own existence as anything other than a source of anti-Democrat propaganda. GOP congresspeople have urged voters to “read the report and make their own conclusions,” knowing full well that likely no one will read the inscrutable 800-page report. By leaving this opening, they leave an empty space for GOP conspiracists to fill.

In a news conference, Gowdy tried to appear somber and unbiased, denying that the partisan investigation had political motives, and refusing to blame Clinton.

The other members of the committee were left to do that. “This was something Hillary Clinton pushed for and got done,” said Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio of the U.S. presence in Libya. He, along with Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas, did not think 800 pages were enough, so they released yet another analysis of the attack, called “additional views” where they go after Clinton and Obama more directly, blaming the attack on “a tragic failure of leadership.”

The committee has been using the Benghazi tragedy for two years as a vehicle to attack Clinton and the Obama administration. All seven Republican committee members released statements and took turns speaking at the press conference, expressing outrage at the four lives lost in the attack, before relating it to Clinton’s morality and judgement.

These same representatives have pulled dirty tricks like leaking sworn depositions to conservative media, sending federal marshals to serve  subpoenas to witnesses who weren’t involved with the events on September 11, and perhaps most notoriously, questioning Clinton for 11 straight hours last October without any material findings to show for it.

You would think the Committee would hang up the cleats after that hearing. If only. The Benghazi committee’s investigation is estimated to have cost $7 million over two years.

 

By: Germania Rodriguez, The National Memo, June 28, 2016

June 29, 2016 Posted by | Benghazi, Hillary Clinton, House Select Committee on Benghazi, Trey Gowdy | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Exposed Their Own Ignorance Of Basic Government”: Benghazi Hearing; While Republicans Barked And Snarled, Hillary Smiled

To watch Hillary Clinton’s Republican antagonists during Thursday’s public hearing of the House Select Committee on Benghazi was to wonder how they could possibly behave the way they did. As representatives of the American people, they not only failed miserably to fulfill the responsibilities entrusted to them, but exposed their own blithering ignorance of basic aspects of government.

Determined as they were to encourage doubt about Clinton’s presidential candidacy, they instead elevated her and raised hard questions about their own knowledge, character, temperament, and intellectual capacity to serve in Congress. After months of “investigating” Clinton, the Republican committee members have developed only a dim understanding of simple phenomena — like the many and varied sources of information, beyond emails, that are available to the Secretary of State. Only someone very dense, very poorly informed, or both, would believe, for instance, that she had received “most of her intelligence about Libya,” or any other subject, in unclassified email traffic.

Often the sheer mindlessness of their inquiries was stunning: Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) asked Clinton whether she had been alone “all night” at home on Sept. 11, 2012, while the tragic events in Benghazi occurred. Rep. Mike Pompeo inquired whether the late Ambassador Chris Stevens had ever visited Clinton’s home or possessed her “fax number.” Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) demanded that Clinton admit that as Secretary of State she had overseen American policy toward Libya. Several of the Republicans interrupted her rudely, upbraided her for looking at notes, even while they read from their own notes, and demanded that she give “Yes or No” answers to their queries, as if they were prosecutors grilling a perp.

The lines of inquiry that the Republicans pursued were muddled, directionless, and confusing, seemingly even to them. As the Democrats repeatedly pointed out, after all the tumult over Clinton’s emails, the proceedings of this committee so far — following several legislative and administrative investigations — revealed nothing new about the terrorist attack on the US compound in Benghazi, its prelude, or its aftermath.

So what might American taxpayers have gleaned from those 11 hours of hearings, the culmination of an expenditure of 17 months and $4.8 million? They learned that Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), the committee chair, is obsessed with someone named Sidney Blumenthal, a friend of Clinton who sent her emails about Libya and other topics. He’s not just weirdly preoccupied, as anyone could see, but truly obsessed to the point of choking rage.

Those who have followed Gowdy’s conduct during the months leading up to this moment will find this Blumenthal business all too familiar. Having discovered that Blumenthal sent some emails to Clinton about Libya, largely incorporating information he had gathered from retired intelligence personnel, the chairman and his colleagues sought to fabricate a conspiracy theory of the Benghazi attack that somehow involved him.

Actually, “conspiracy theory” is too coherent a description of their aimless maundering on the topic of Sidney (who also happens to be my friend).

Gowdy appeared to believe – or perhaps pretended to believe – that if only the Secretary of State had ignored Blumenthal’s emails, the Benghazi attack might somehow have been prevented. According to this theory, she was paying too much attention to him, and not enough to Stevens.

In fact, as Clinton patiently attempted to explain over and over, she naturally delegated decisions about the safety of the Benghazi compound and personnel — and all perilous diplomatic posts — to the State Department’s security staff. Moreover, her communications with Blumenthal were, and are, entirely irrelevant to the matters that Gowdy purports to be investigating. Should Gowdy ever really wish to know why it is difficult to protect our embassies, consulates, and foreign service officers abroad, he might investigate himself and all the other Republicans who – as Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) acknowledged on Thursday – voted repeatedly to slash hundreds of millions of dollars from the State Department’s security budget.

As I noted in Politico months ago, back when Gowdy first embarked on the Blumenthal trail, this isn’t the first time that the former Washington Post and New Yorker journalist has driven Republican politicians to manic distraction. Like Clinton herself, he is a demonized figure in certain circles – but every time they go after him, they risk humiliation or worse.

Among the many low points of the Clinton hearing was the moment when Gowdy first refused a committee vote on releasing Blumenthal’s deposition before the committee, and then whipped a party-line vote to keep it under seal. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking member who led his fellow Democrats in eloquently protesting the committee’s many abuses, asked Gowdy what he is hiding.

But of course Cummings already knows the answer: In that closed deposition last June, Gowdy and company asked Blumenthal dozens of questions about wholly irrelevant but highly political matters, such as his employment by the Clinton Foundation, Media Matters, and Correct the Record – even though Gowdy has publicly claimed that he had no interest in those subjects. To release Blumenthal’s testimony would risk exposing the committee chairman’s bad faith and clumsy deceptions.

By the time Rep. Trey Gowdy finally gaveled the hearing to a close, there was little doubt that Hillary Clinton’s composed, dignified demeanor – and the contrast between her and the Republicans — had notched another political victory for her. She had movingly recounted the events of that awful night in Benghazi, explained her actions in detail, firmly defended the honor of Accountability Review Board chairs Tom Pickering and Admiral Mike Mullen, and pleaded for a return to statesmanship. Her strong performance rallied skeptical liberals to her side, while furious conservatives whined in despair.

And when it was over she rose from the witness chair, smiling and greeting friends, while Gowdy stalked out, stone-faced and perspiring, as if he had seen his own demise.

 

By: Joe Conason, Editor in Chief, Editor’s Blog, Featured Post, October 23, 2015

 

October 24, 2015 Posted by | Hillary Clinton, House Select Committee on Benghazi, Trey Gowdy | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“But Everybody Swears He’s Running”: Biden 2016; A Bad Idea Gets Worse

Gossip started flying over the weekend that Joe Biden is about to say something. On Monday, CNBC tweeted: “Joe Biden to announce whether he is running for president in 2016 or not in the next 48 hours, sources tell @NBCNews.”

So there we are. The big moment is nigh. Generally speaking, insiders think he’s getting in. The folks in Clintonland certainly seem to think he’s getting in.

I don’t, however, know a single person I’m aware of who wants Biden to get in. And I’ve been asking. Journalists, activist types, policy wonks, political operatives—among them, the consensus is that he let all this dangle a little too long and that he doesn’t really bring anything to the table that isn’t already on offer from the existing candidates.

A Biden candidacy was always a bad idea, in part for reasons I wrote about back in early August: no real rationale, no major policy differences with Hillary Clinton, he’ll just end up attacking her trustworthiness if he wants to get anywhere.

In the 10 weeks that have passed since I wrote that column, it’s only become a worse idea. First of all, Biden’s polling performance isn’t so hot. He’s third, behind Clinton and Sanders. He’s been pretty steady for the last two months, at 15 to 20 percent. So it’s not as if he’s lost ground, but the general assumption in politics is that once a person announces, he slips a bit in the polls because he goes from being a neat hypothetical idea to someone whose warts the electorate actually begins to contemplate (and whom the press begins to scrutinize). He’s also third in Iowa, and a pretty distant third in New Hampshire. Oh, and third in South Carolina, too,  25 or 30 points behind Clinton. Polls can change of course, they often do. But there’s no obvious reason to think they’re going to change much here, for such a known quantity as Joe.

The second reason it’s become a worse idea is that Clinton seems to have stabilized. She topped everybody’s expectations in the debate. She showed life, zest for battle. (She’s a high-energy person!) She regained the lead over Sanders in New Hampshire—well, according to one poll anyway. And the Benghazi committee—oh Lord, what a pathetic clattering of jackdaws (yes, it’s a thing). Did you notice what a really, really, really bad weekend those people had? Andrea Mitchell schooled GOP committee member Mike Pompeo on Meet the Press. And the CIA shot down Trey Gowdy’s latest allegations about Clinton supposedly pushing out classified material.

But it’s even worse than that: As Mike Isikoff reported at Yahoo! News, Gowdy inadvertently revealed the identity of a “human intelligence” source in Libya whose name he (wrongly) accused Clinton of putting out there. An auto-goal of slapstick proportions. That committee should disband itself out of embarrassment.

But it won’t, and Clinton has to testify there Thursday. Maybe they’ll cross her up somehow, maybe Gowdy is sitting on some Clinton email where she wrote “Osama bin Laden had a point” or something, and it’ll all come crashing down on her. But, you know, probably not. She’ll probably do fine, and if she does, this cloud will also start to lift.

And finally, well, it still seems to me like a bad idea because he’s grieving, and that will need a lot of time. I shouldn’t presume to tell another (a parent, no less) how to process his grief, but man, it seems impossible that he’s operating at 100 percent, and to run for president, whatever else you are, you pretty much need to be that.

But everybody swears he’s running.

It’s hard to imagine why. Yeah, yeah, because Clinton might implode in scandal, and then he’s positioned to be The One the Party Turns To. But isn’t he already that? Yes. I mean, Bernie — you know as well as I do, the party is not going to turn to him in such an event. The immediate response of the party bigwigs in the event of a Clinton collapse would be “Dear God, we have to find someone who can beat Sanders,” and that person would be Biden. Some folks would want Elizabeth Warren (there remains no indication she has the remotest interest in being president). You’d hear a few John Kerrys. Maybe from Oakland would emanate a Draft Jerry Brown movement. But basically Biden is the guy—now, today. There’s that old concept in royal familydom of “the heir and the spare.” Biden is the spare. Already acknowledged. Doesn’t need to get in.

So why would he? Sure, his son’s dying wish, and his belief (which he must harbor) that he would actually be a better president than Clinton or any of the rest of them. But does he really see a path to victory—that is to say, to beating a non-imploding Clinton? That just doesn’t seem possible. What seems more possible instead is that a Biden-Clinton contest ignites a gender war inside the Democratic Party.

No, the smart play is for Biden to give a big speech saying how painful all this has been for him, how he respects all the candidates but Hillary Clinton in particular has been a great friend and is an amazing lady, and he’s going to sit it out. And if he does that right, he locks down his status as the spare even more. He goes out a hero. He has everyone’s gratitude and esteem.

But everybody swears he’s running.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, October 19, 2015

October 21, 2015 Posted by | Election 2016, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Screwing Up A One-Car Funeral”: House Republicans Three-Headed Monster Of A legislative Vehicle For Its Views On Iran

One of the few things we all thought we could count on when Congress returned from its August recess was a quick vote in the House on a resolution of disapproval for the Iran Nuclear Deal. After all, (1) it’s an issue on which all congressional Republicans seem to agree, (2) there’s a mandated timetable for dealing with the resolution that everybody agreed on months ago, and (3) it’s all kinda Kabuki Theater right now because Democrats have the votes to filibuster the resolution in the Senate.

But sometimes with these birds even the simplest things come unglued. Suddenly today a “revolt of House conservatives”–by no means the first or last–occurred, and now pending a meeting of House GOPers that’s currently underway, the Party of Responsible Government looks likely to produce some sort of three-headed monster of a legislative vehicle for its views on Iran, per Politico‘s Jake Sherman:

They are moving toward voting on a measure asserting Obama did not submit all elements of the agreement with Iran, a concept first raised by Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), a former member of GOP leadership. Second, Republicans are working on a bill to try to prevent Obama from lifting sanctions against Iran. Third, the House would vote on a resolution to approve of the Iran pact. The original plan was to vote on a disapproval resolution.

This first gambit is based on the growing right-wing furor over “side agreements” between the Iranians and international nuclear monitors, plus alleged other “secret” deals, which conservatives claim cancels the procedural timetable for any votes and also makes the administration vulnerable to lawsuits. Boil it all down, and it’s an effort to add the Iran Nuclear Deal to the long list of things on which the Tyrant Obama supposedly broke the law and violated the Constitution.

In other words, House GOPers are talking to themselves, and to the almighty base.

The third gambit supposedly makes the treasonous nature of Democrats more obvious by requiring them to vote for the deal, not just against a resolution of disapproval.

Trouble with that one, and with the whole package, is that it’s not being coordinated with the Senate, where it’s totally not welcome (guess Ted Cruz is too busy in Kentucky trying to get into photos with Kim Davis to serve as the liaison between House and Senate wingnuts). So what should have been the easiest of maneuvers in a very crowded and complicated schedule has become a fiasco (Greg Sargent calls it “snatching defeat from the jaws of defeat.”), and congressional GOPers have become the people who could screw up a one-car funeral. Just amazing.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, September 9, 2015

September 10, 2015 Posted by | House Republicans, Iran Nuclear Agreement, Senate | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“For The Eighth Time”: Benghazi Conspiracy Theory Collapses, Again

For years, conspiracy-minded Republicans have insisted that someone in the Obama administration — usually, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — issued a “stand-down order” to the U.S. military on the night of the 2012 attack at the U.S. mission in Benghazi, preventing a Special Operations team from intervening and saving the lives of the four Americans who died in the assault.

According to newly released testimony, they are flat-out wrong.

As the Associated Press reported on Friday, transcripts of hours of testimony from nine military officers were made public this week, completely disproving the conspiracy theory:

The “stand-down” theory centers on a Special Operations team — a detachment leader, a medic, a communications expert and a weapons operator with his foot in a cast – that was stopped from flying from Tripoli to Benghazi after the attacks of Sept. 11-12, 2012, had ended. Instead, it was instructed to help protect and care for those being evacuated from Benghazi and from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli.

The senior military officer who issued the instruction to “remain in place” and the detachment leader who received it said it was the right decision and has been widely mischaracterized. The order was to remain in Tripoli and protect some three-dozen embassy personnel rather than fly to Benghazi some 600 miles away after all Americans there would have been evacuated. And the medic is credited with saving the life of an evacuee from the attacks.

The report goes on to note that “despite lingering public confusion over many events that night, the testimony shows military leaders largely in agreement over how they responded to the attacks.”

This is not the first time the “stand-down order” myth has been debunked; Lt. Colonel S.E. Gibson and General Martin Dempsey had already told Congress as much. But the report’s timing could prove particularly problematic for the congressional Republicans who have repeatedly pushed the myth.

It arrives as the House Select Committee tasked with probing the attack for the eighth time is “ramping up” its investigation. And as the National Journal’s Lucia Graves points out, the panel happens to be filled with Republicans who have eagerly pushed the conspiracy.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), the committee chairman, suggested that the Benghazi attack “kinda undercuts” the principle that “we’re not gonna send anybody into harm’s way under our flag without adequate protection, and if they get in trouble we are gonna go get ‘em. We’re gonna save ‘em. Or at least we’re gonna make a heck of an effort to do it.”

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) has said that the military “had the opportunity” to take action, but didn’t.

Rep. Jim Jordan wondered, “Why weren’t we running to the sound of the guns?”

Well, now their questions have been answered — again — yet the panel is still planning to spend up to $3.3 million to relitigate them. And the task of explaining why they need to spend more than the yearly budget of the House Veterans Affairs Committee or the House Ethics Committee to keep asking questions that have already been answered just got a lot harder.

 

By: Henry Decker, The National Memo, July 11, 2014

July 12, 2014 Posted by | Benghazi, Conspiracy Theories | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: