Republican Benghazi-gasms appear to be shriveling under the sunshine of transparency.
Wednesday evening, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), Chairman of the House Committee on Armed Services, decided to release the transcripts of interviews of nine military personnel conducted between January and April of this year regarding the attacks in Benghazi. McKeon has been saying for a while now that he’s satisfied with the military’s response to the Benghazi attack, but it seems no one in his party is listening to his attempt to keep them from attacking our servicemembers.
Darrell Issa (R-CA) earned himself Four Pinocchios for claiming that Secretary Hillary Clinton ordered former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to “stand down” during the Benghazi attacks and now Democrats are demanding an apology.
Upon the release of the transcripts* this evening, Democrats charge that they prove that there was no stand down order and actually, significant military assets were deployed on the night of the attacks that tragically killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods. Furthermore, “Republicans’ bankrupt priorities are on full display in this farce: they are now wasting more taxpayer funds per day than we spend on either the Veterans Affairs Committee or the Intelligence Committee.”
Democrats hardly stopped there. It got heated:
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said Republicans need to apologize to those they accused, “These transcripts definitively show that Republican attacks against our nation’s military servicemembers and former Secretary of State Clinton are completely unfounded and utterly offensive. They have been refuted by military officials who repeatedly told our two Committees that there was no ‘stand down’ order and that significant military assets were deployed on the night of the attacks. Now that Chairman McKeon has made these transcripts public, I urge Republicans who made these baseless accusations to apologize to both Secretary Clinton and our brave men and women in uniform.”
Drew Hammill, spokesman for Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, released a statement charging, “These transcripts prove that Republicans’ Select Committee to Exploit the Benghazi Tragedy is nothing more than a circus to inflame the most extreme and conspiracy-obsessed elements of their party while raising campaign funds off the deaths of four Americans.
“The investigation by the Armed Services Committee clearly left no stone unturned, but House Republicans are planning to waste millions of additional taxpayer dollars on long-disproved conspiracy theories in the Select Committee. Republicans’ bankrupt priorities are on full display in this farce: they are now wasting more taxpayer funds per day than we spend on either the Veterans Affairs Committee or the Intelligence Committee.”
House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) issued a poignant statement that read in part, “The transcripts tell a tantalizing story of Americans trying to understand what was happening in Benghazi and save the lives of their countrymen. It was a frantic and difficult effort and unfortunately four brave Americans died. But it was not due to a lack of effort or a government conspiracy, as some continue to claim.”
It’s true that opposition parties will make political hay out of things that go horribly wrong under the other party’s leadership. But Republicans have taken their Benghazi conspiracies way beyond the norm, tromping on at least one family’s specific request that Republicans to stop using the death of their son to hurt President Obama. It became grotesque after Republicans started raising money off of their Benghazi conspiracies.
Rep. Linda Sánchez (CA-38), a member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, said Republicans have yet to answer what this committee is supposed to do other than rehash debunked conspiracy theories, “Two months after its formation, we are still waiting for a schedule and a clear outline of the questions that the committee is tasked with answering. It remains incumbent on Republicans to prove that this committee is more than an opportunity to fundraise and score political points.”
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a senior Member of the Intelligence Committee and a member of the Benghazi Select Committee, was of a similar mind, as he skewered Republicans for wasting the money given to them for the Benghazi investigation. He said in a statement, “The Armed Services Committee did a thorough investigation into the question of whether military assets were available to rescue Ambassador Stevens and the other personnel under attack in Benghazi, and concluded that there were not. This Republican-led investigation also debunked the conspiracy theory that someone ordered the military to ‘stand down’ or otherwise impeded relief efforts – this was also emphatically not the case.”
Schiff urged Republicans to do something productive instead of giving mouth to mouth to their Benghazi conspiracy theory and he pointed out that just because they were given a $3.3 million budget to hunt President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton doesn’t mean they have to spend it all on that.
But Republicans are so intent on finding a way to make Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton look half as incompetent as Bush that they can’t be bothered to do their own work. They are too busy trying to trip the opposition. So it’s back to wasting millions on Republican fantasies about the tragic Benghazi attack, while the VA remains underfunded.
Democrats are right about certain Republicans owing an apology to our servicemembers and to those they accused of deliberately not helping the four Americans killed in the attack. But that would require an ounce of decency and more accountability and honesty than Republicans can muster these days.
*Read the transcripts here:
Transcript 1 LTC Defense Attache
Transcript 2 LTC Office of Security Cooperation
Transcript 3 LTC Military Trainer
Transcript 4 LTC Current Operations Director (SOCAFRICA)
Transcript 5 Brigadier General Scott Zobrist
Transcript 6 Rear Admiral Brian Losey
Transcript 7 Rear Admiral Richard Landolt
Transcript 8 Vice Admiral Charles Leidig Jr
Transcript 9 General Carter Ham