Election 2016

Disgusting -- Darrell Issa, House Republicans Politicize Libya Embassy Attack

House Republicans absurdly say Obama put Americans at risk to boost election prospects.

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, at Dover Air Force Base, receive the remains of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three American staff killed during an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Photo Credit: State Department photo by Michael Gross

Republicans are taking out their political daggers in Washington on Wednesday at a predictable House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing where the GOP is accusing the White House and State Department of failing to protect American diplomats in Libya in order to score political points for the 2012 election.

The charge that the Obama Administration intentionally ignored the security risks in Libya to claim that its foreign policy was more successful than it actually is has been made on various TV networks and newspapers by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), a committee member who was the first congressman to go to Libya after the attack on the Benghazi embassy that killed four Americans, including the U.S. Ambassador.

“The heart of what I’m concerned about in this situation is there was a conscious decision: Politics were driving the decisions rather than security. … Based on what I’ve seen thus far, the Obama administration was so anxious to have it appear to be ‘normalizing’ [relations] as quickly as possible that they forgot security was really job one for our personnel,” Chaffetz told The Hill.   

On Wednesday morning, other news outlets reported more details about the attack on the Benghazi embassy, which were released by the State Department before the hearing. The House Republicans are making the same attack on the Obama Administration as Mitt Romney did in the hours immediately after the attack, which many lawmakers—from both parties—said was completely inappropriate during a forign policy crisis. 

The politics here are as transparent as they are ugly. According to The Hill, Chaffetz decided he would fly to Libya after the presidential debate—leaving Saturday—in advance of the House hearings in Wednesday. He didn’t inform Democratic committee members, which is the usual protocol, until he was set to leave. The State Department sent a lawyer with him, and Chaffetz was not allowed to go to Benghazi. He stayed in Tripoli, the Hill reported, which also said that Senate Foreign Affairs Committee member Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) made a trip to Libya on Monday, “a sign that Republicans intend to continue pressing the administration for answers.”

“The State Department flew out an attorney to follow me around everywhere I went. The Democrats had no representation. They didn’t have a member of Congress who thought it was important enough to go,” he told The Hill.

Chaffetz comments to the media reveal just how crass the Republicans are. For all we know, Chaffetz might never have ventured beyond several square blocks in Tripoli, before returning to the U.S. and going on the air as the GOP’s latest expert on Libya.

Let’s hope the public hears more about this charade of a congressional hearing and reaches the same conclusion that it did when Romney first attacked Obama in the hours after the ambasador’s death. They were disguested by the lack of statesmanship.

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America's democracy and voting rights. He is the author of several books on elections and the co-author of Who Controls Our Schools: How Billionaire-Sponsored Privatization Is Destroying Democracy and the Charter School Industry (AlterNet eBook, 2016).

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