Our Opinion: Benghazi gotcha game


The keen interest in the aftermath of the Benghazi, Libya consulate attacks by Republican congressmen after years of indifference to attacks on diplomatic posts during the Bush administration suggests that this long-running exercise is more about President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who might want to succeed President Obama, than it is about security matters. That is unfortunate as this is one area that should be spared the political infestation that poisons everything in Washington.

The temperature of this overheated saga went up a few degrees Friday when Republicans accused senior State Department officials of seeking changes in the talking points about the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission. The accusations were based on emails, including one from State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland expressing concern that the current talking points "could be abused by members of Congress to beat the State Department" for not anticipating a terrorist assault on the consulate. The attack, which cost the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, came on September 11 of last year as the presidential campaign headed into the final weeks.

The memos reveal that the State Department was worried that what is now happening would happen -- it would be attacked by members of Congress. They tell us that the Obama administration concerns itself with politics and spin control, which is not a revelation. How events play out on the Sunday talk shows and on the 24-hour cable news cycle is of huge concern to Democrats and Republicans alike.

There were 64 attacks on U.S. diplomatic targets during the two terms of the Bush administration, none of which drew the level of attention from Republican congressmen that the unending Benghazi saga has. Diplomatic security budgets have been consistently hacked at the insistence of penny wise, pound foolish conservative lawmakers. There is a lesson there, and rather than play gotcha politics with emails, Congress should learn what else could have been done to prevent the attacks on the consulate and the resultant loss of life and apply those lessons to other consulates and embassies in hot spots around the world. That's called governing.


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