Yesterday Senators McCain and Paul failed to show up for a classified briefing on Benghazi, on the same day they were very busy giving TV interviews explaining that they had a lot of questions about Benghazi.
An administration official suggested that it might help Senator McCain et al if they showed up to the briefing and asked the people in the know a question or two. They told Josh Rogin of The Cable, “If you want answers, a good first step is to show up and ask a question. That’s what a senator does.”
After it was noted by several news sources that he missed the classified briefing at which he may have gotten a chance to answer his “questions”, McCain’s spokesman said, “Senator McCain was absent from the hearing due to a scheduling error.” And they wonder why they have so many “questions”.
Well, gee, do you think he might get some notes from a pal and try to catch up on his homework (aka, the job we pay him to do), or do you suppose that McCain will take to the Sunday shows in order to spread his conspiracy theories (based on zero proof) about Benghazi?
Technically, McCain can claim he does not know any better, and so can Senator Rand Paul, who also skipped the meeting while telling CNN that he had “questions” about Benghazi, “I think the more important question is why were there no Marines guarding our ambassador.”
Senator Rand was expressing his “questions” about the Marines in Benghazi. He might wish to follow the agenda for a committee of which he is not a member, but in which those questions are answered:
When the CIA’s acting director, Michael Morell, testifies Thursday before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, he is expected to say that the agency never requested Europe-based special operations teams, specialized Marine platoons, or armed drones on the night of the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official. “Assistance from the U.S. military was critical, and we got what we requested,” the senior U.S. intelligence official said.
I suppose they will deliberately miss the other CNN report on Benghazi, in which Petraeus put to rest their attempt to tie Benghazi to his affair in order to impeach the President. The General said his affair had nothing to do with Benghazi (no one thought it did, except those desperate to pretend they didn’t just lose an election again).
Now you can see why they wanted to miss the briefing; if they are present when testimony is given, they can’t claim they don’t know any better. As it stands now, they will continue to play dumb, and count on the media to insult the American voters by assuming they are so dumb they can’t see what’s going on.
This is the same media that allowed Republicans to claim that they couldn’t possibly read the ACA because it was so long. No one bothered to ask them why we pay their legislative aides so much money, if not to read for them.
But this is not 2010, and CNN’s Dana Bash was having none of it today. Think Progress reported that Bash said (emphasis mine):
I have to tell you something that just happened on Capitol Hill, and that is our senate producer Ted Barrett just ran into John McCain and asked about something that we’re hearing from Democrats, which is John McCain is calling for more information to Congress, but he had a press conference yesterday instead of going to a closed briefing where administration officials were giving more information. Well, Ted Barrett asked John McCain about that, and it was apparently an intense very angry exchange and McCain simply would not comment on it at all.
McCain’s presser was at noon, and the briefing was from 11AM-1PM, according to CNN.
Asked why he wouldn’t comment, McCain grew agitated: “Because I have the right as a senator to have no comment and who the hell are you to tell me I can or not?”
When CNN noted that McCain had missed a key meeting on a subject the senator has been intensely upset about, McCain said, “I’m upset that you keep badgering me.”
This is a childish game of epic proportions and an embarrassment to the U.S. Senate. First they failed to read the intelligence, which would have explained to them that Susan Rice told the public exactly what the intelligence report said. Then Republicans blew the cover for the CIA in their Issa led witch hunt. Then they blew the cover of several Libyans by leaking classified information in the same Issa-led circus. Not a one of them has expressed any “concern” over those leaks.
When McCain and Graham appear on the Sunday shows armed with their Benghazi talking points, will the hosts allow their shows to be used to carry propaganda of this sort, or will they do their jobs and ask these gentlemen why they skipped a briefing on Benghazi on the very day they were on TV giving interviews about their “questions”?
More importantly, will the hosts separate the legitimate questions from the Republican frame that they don’t have any answers because the administration is hiding something — a charge for which they have offered zero proof, by the way, and which these Republicans’ own behavior belies.
McCain has become the sad equivalent of a blindfolded backseat driver heckling the driver after an accident. Not helpful.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.