It is an unfortunate human trait to look for some kind of moral wrong or legal malfeasance in specific events to incite general public outrage either to benefit someone or to cast aspersion on someone else. Shortly after Republicans won a House majority in the 2010 midterm elections a corrupt Republican, Darrell Issa, promised his only job as chairman of the House Oversight Committee was to have “seven hearings a week, times 40 weeks” investigating the Obama Administration when the 112th Congress began. Issa was desperate to find a scandal to take down President Obama and has investigated everything from the 2009 federal stimulus program to fabricating President Obama’s part in the scandalous Republican government shutdown two months ago.
Issa has wasted taxpayer time and money for three years looking for Obama Administration scandals he subsequently never found, including the tragic deaths of 4 American diplomats in Benghazi Libya on September 11 2012. Issa’s scandalous investigations aside, it was revealed yesterday that an extensive investigation into the attack on the diplomatic outpost that claimed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three diplomats’ lives found no involvement of al-Qaeda or other international terrorists groups whatsoever like Republicans have claimed for over a year. Instead, the attack was precipitated by, as first reported, extremist Christians in the United States.
A lengthy and comprehensive New York Times investigation informed what Republicans are desperate to keep under wraps because it revealed the Benghazi attack was “accelerated in part by anger at a U.S.-made video denigrating Islam.” The report parroted what any American with half-a-mind has known since Republicans began their relentless propaganda campaign that the Obama administration attempted to cover up al-Qaeda’s alleged role in the attack. According to the chairman of the House Intelligent Committee, Republican Mike Rogers, who kept the al-Qaeda meme alive last month on Fox News, “It was very clear to the individuals on the ground that this was an al-Qaeda-led event.”
However, according to the Times, “The only intelligence connecting Al Qaeda to the attack was an intercepted phone call that night from a participant in the first wave of the attack to a friend in another African country who had ties to members of Al Qaeda. But when the friend heard the attacker’s boasts, he sounded astonished and had no prior knowledge of the assault.” The report said militants surveyed the U.S. compound at least 12 hours before the assault started, but “the violence also had spontaneous elements fueled in large part by anger at the (anti-Islam) video that motivated the initial attack.” It is important to note that the video, titled “Innocence of Muslims,” was made by an American and “had also prompted protests for hours the day before at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.”
The report continued that “Dozens of people (in Benghazi) joined in, some of them provoked by the video and others responding to fast-spreading false rumors that guards inside the American compound had shot Libyan protesters.” According to a suspect who denied participating in the attack, “the video insulting the Prophet Mohammed might well have justified the killing of four Americans.”
Still, Congressional Republicans continue to assert that Stevens and three diplomats died in a carefully planned assault by al-Qaeda because they sought to undermine President Obama’s claim that al-Qaeda was decimated after killing its leadership including Osama bin Laden. Republicans assailed Susan E. Rice for announcing that based on early intelligence reports; the attacks were inspired by “spontaneous street protests that got out of hand as a result of the video denigrating the prophet Mohammed.” Susan Rice was mercilessly condemned by leading Republicans for allegedly lying about the attacks that led her to withdraw her name from consideration as President Obama’s Secretary of State.
For the past year-and-a-half Republicans led a phony search for a Benghazi scandal wasting taxpayer time and money, but why did criminal Issa never investigate the Christian extremists for making, promoting, and releasing the video that clearly fueled the attacks that killed four American diplomats? If the criminal really wanted to get to the bottom of who was responsible for the attacks he would have begun immediate investigations into American Christians and not President Obama.
Issa can hardly claim Christian extremists were innocent in provoking the attacks because American non-profit Media for Christ obtained film permits to shoot the movie in August 2011, and the project was promoted by Morris Sadek by email and on the blog of the National American Coptic Assembly. By early September, the film was dubbed into Arabic and broadcast on September 9 on Al-Nas, an Egyptian television station; at this point it is prescient to reiterate the video “had prompted protests for hours the day before (the Benghazi attack) at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.” The extremist Christian pastor Terry Jones, known for a Quran-burning controversy that led to riots around the world and endangered American soldiers, knew of the video’s existence prior to the Benghazi attacks and promoted it by announcing his plan to show the 13-minute trailer at his church on September 11, 2012. It is incomprehensible that the video did not incite protestors to attack the diplomatic outpost due to “anger at a U.S.-made video denigrating Islam,” or that extremist Christians are not culpable for the violence in Benghazi.
Law professors and constitutional law experts pointed out the government cannot prosecute the film’s producer(s) for its content because of the First Amendment, but regardless of First Amendment rights, the Obama administration asked YouTube to review whether to continue hosting the video at all under the company’s policies. YouTube said the video fell within guidelines because it is against Islam, not against Muslim people and thus not considered “hate speech.” Ben Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union said, “It does make us nervous when the government throws its weight behind any requests for censorship.” However, the Supreme Court has ruled that there are circumstances when free speech is not protected and pulling the video before it was exposed in Muslim countries would have saved four Americans’ lives.
A popular metaphor for speech or actions made for the explicit purpose of creating panic that can lead to injury or death, “shouting fire in a crowded theater,” is a paraphrasing Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.’s Supreme Court opinion in the case Schenck v. United States which held the defendant’s speech in opposition to the draft was not protected under the First Amendment. It is true that Darrell Issa is not, and never will be, a member of the High Court, but if he is frantic to get to the bottom of why four American diplomats were killed in Benghazi it is within his purview and duty to investigate the extremist Christians who incited protests and outrage at Americans in Cairo, and Benghazi, as a result of an anti-Islam video that denigrated the faith and its prophet.
Extremist Christians have a right of free speech, but when their “freedom” results in the deaths of, as Republicans continue repeating, “four American heroes,” then they explicitly created panic leading to the diplomats’ deaths. Fundamentalist Christians have expressed every form of hate speech imaginable against gays, immigrants, and particularly Muslims with impunity and it is high time they are brought to account for their actions. However, there is a tendency in America to give anyone thumping a bible and wrapping themselves in the flag a free pass because they are Christians. The current scandal in Washington is that slimy crook Darrell Issa who has had the same information the New York Times reported for over a year and sat on his ass wasting taxpayer time and money pursuing Barack Obama. Republicans owe Susan Rice a humble apology, the American people tens-of-millions of dollars, and have once again exposed themselves as America’s biggest scandal.