Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Blame Congress

"It's time to move on," Hillary Clinton says, because

I understand that after two years and $7 million spent by the Benghazi Committee out of taxpayer funds, it had to today report it had found nothing, nothing to contradict the conclusions of the Independent Accountability Board or the conclusions of the prior, multiple earlier investigations carried out on a bipartisan basis in the Congress.

As Clinton understands, in politics as in sports it's always preferable to play on your own turf. So she is is eager to move past Benghazi which, with the mistakes committed by the US government, is clearly not her turf.

But she shouldn't move on with "I'll leave it to others to characterize this report." The American people are in no mood, as Donald Trump has shown us, for a passive-aggressive response to political issues or government scandals.  Mrs. Clinton's response should be more on the lines of "these are the games Washington plays" or "typical behavior by Congresss, wasting $7 million of taxpayers' money."

Admittedly, more problematic would be linking the attack on the American compound in Libya to terrorist attacks committed upon similar facilities under other presidents. Investigating a claim by a Democratic congressman 26 months ago, Politifact found that there were during the Bush Administration separate 20 attacks on U.S. embassies or embassy personnel resulting in at least one death. The total number of fatalites was 97, though at embassies and consulates proper, the number was 31 fewer.

Of the 97, 63 were either of non-Americans or of unknown nationality, three were U.S. citizens, and 21 "were workers at the US  embassy or consulate, either of American or foreign nationality."

But more relevant to Clinton's failure to link Benghazi accusations to today's venomous partisanship in Congress is Reagan-era Lebanon. Jane Mayer has recalled that in April 1983

militants had bombed the U.S. embassy in Beirut, too, killing sixty-three more people, including seventeen Americans. Among the dead were seven C.I.A. officers, including the agency’s top analyst in the Middle East, an immensely valuable intelligence asset, and the Beirut station chief.

Six months later

a suicide bomber drove a truck laden with the equivalent of twenty-oone thousand pounds of TNT into the heart of a U.S. Marine compound, killing two hundred and forty-one servicemen..... thirteen more American servicemen later died from injuries, making it the single deadliest attack on American Marines since the Battle of Iwo Jima.

In a stunning contrast to its reaction to Benghazi, Congress then conducted one investigation and issued a bipartisan report in January 1984 which, Mayer writes, "called for better security measures against terrorism in U.S. government installations throughout the world."   Nonetheless

three months after Congress issued its report, militants struck American officials in Beirut again, this time kidnapping the C.I.A.’s station chief, Bill Buckley. Buckley was tortured and, eventually, murdered. Reagan, who was tormented by a tape of Buckley being tortured, blamed himself. Congress held no public hearings, and pointed fingers at the perpetrators, not at political rivals.

Remarkably, on September 20, 1984

for the third time in eighteen months, jihadists bombed a U.S. government outpost in Beirut yet again. President Reagan acknowledged that the new security precautions that had been advocated by Congress hadn’t yet been implemented at the U.S. embassy annex that had been hit. The problem, the President admitted, was that the repairs hadn’t quite been completed on time. As he put it, “Anyone who’s ever had their kitchen done over knows that it never gets done as soon as you wish it would.” Imagine how Congressman Issa and Fox News would react to a similar explanation from President Obama today.

Reviewing this history, Steve M. notes that on September 21  President Reagan "made three campaign appearances in Iowa," in which he led Democrat Walter Mondale by approximately 23 points.

After 272 Americans were killed in four attacks against U.S. assets, three of which targeted embassy personnel, in the 19 months preceeding the election in 1984,  Ronald Reagan was rewarded with 525 electoral votes after defeating Mondale by 18%.

History, it is said, is written by the victors and in this case, Steve M. recognizes, "by the propaganda victors" as Hillary  Clinton is "demonized by a party that regards Ronald Reagan as a god among men." However, Mrs. Clinton doesn't have to condemn the saintly Ronald(6) Wilson(6) Reagan(6)). She can instead denounce Congress, which, voters understand, no longer works for  the American people and simply plays partisan games while getting in the way of the people's interest.

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