After months of investigations, hearings and partisan claims that there was foul play in the administration’s handling of the attack in Benghazi, Libya, the American people are still left with one question: Why are we still talking about Benghazi in regard to a “cover-up?”
On Monday, Obama dismissed the continuing Republican allegations as nothing more than a “sideshow.” The fact is that these allegations are nothing more than partisan politics at its worst. The president and his administration have been accused of “changing talking points” about Benghazi (you might recall the big debate in the 2012 election over the use of the word “terrorism”), which has somehow translated into an administrative cover up “worse than Watergate.” Some Republicans are even calling for Obama’s impeachment; luckily even Obama’s 2008 opponent, John McCain, has urged his party to be cautious in this investigation and set up a special committee to review the information.
While I still disagree with McCain’s insistence that there was some sort of administrative cover up, he seems to be one of the few Republicans approaching this issue with a level head. Every time a new Benghazi hearing is established, the conservative media is quick to talk about a scandal coming out. Yet what has been revealed, in terms of actual misconduct, is next to nothing. Much of the initial blame on the administration came about for mischaracterizing the attack as a protest that spun out of control. But again, when these allegations first came up, emails were subpoenaed and the report was reviewed. In the words of President Obama, these efforts “concluded there was nothing afoul in terms of the process we had used.”
Under President Bush, embassies and consulates were attacked 11 times, with a total of 52 American casualties. These attacks went largely unnoticed by the public because of two key factors, which contrast the attack in Benghazi. First off, Benghazi occurred in the later part of an election cycle. In fact, Obama’s press secretary directly points to Romney and his campaign as first starting the mistake of politicizing Benghazi. The second major difference is that in Benghazi, a U.S. ambassador was one of the casualties. This obviously made the whole incident a bigger deal and with that, naturally, comes more scrutiny. However, that scrutiny should have ended after the initial reports were given.
It is possible that the Obama administration did intentionally change its reporting in order to win the election, but thus far no evidence suggesting senior official corruption has surfaced. Despite these rigorous trials and intense scrutiny, no one has been able to come up with any sort of evidence to back up these claims.
This is why I am upset that we are still talking about Benghazi in terms of a cover-up. It was a tragedy. Four Americans, including a seasoned ambassador, were murdered. But instead, all we hear about on the news are wild accusations of misconduct that have time and again been shown to be false. If we want to talk cover-ups and administrative misconduct, then let’s focus on the issues that actually involve it.
A classic example of governmental misconduct, including having a secretary lie on national television (something Obama’s administration was accused of), was the claim that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. This led to a deadly, unsanctioned, invasion, which found no WMDs in the country. Yet, some Republicans are calling for the impeachment of President Obama for allegedly changing talking points. If proof comes up that there was high-level administrative misconduct, then by all means, we should be having this conversation. But as of yet, all the facts point to the contrary.