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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Benghazi committee complete waste of time

Hillary Clinton testified in front of the House Select Committee on Benghazi for 11 consecutive hours. The testimony, widely viewed as a political farce by many Democrats, yielded few, if any, new revelations and was proclaimed a victory for Hillary Clinton by the mainstream media.

There are so many problematic elements of this entire Benghazi committee and its subsequent media narrative, but let’s try and start from the beginning.

First, the Benghazi committee, since its inception in 2014, has been nothing more than a Republican ploy to hurt Clinton’s presidential campaign. In 2012, the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, came under attack, leading to the death of four American officials including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. The event was a great tragedy and an investigation into how this situation arose and why the embassy was vulnerable to an attack was certainly justified and necessary.

The controversy over the Benghazi attacks stems from confusion and misinformation about why the attacks occurred and how much the Obama administration knew prior to the day of the attacks. Initially after the attack, the state department and the Obama administration believed, as did everyone else, that the violence came from a vitriolic anti-Islam video that caused similar riots across the Middle East. When it became clear that the attacks were not a random response to the video, but rather a planned terrorist attack by Ansar Al-Sharia against the U.S. compound, investigations were sought as to how much the Obama administration really knew and whether there had been an intentional cover-up.

The House Intelligence Committee, the body primarily tasked with investigating matters such as these, published a full report of their investigation in November of 2014 effectively absolving Clinton and President Barack Obama of any criminal responsibility. The state department had no knowledge that the attacks were coming, there were no “stand-down” orders given to security forces and the incorrect information initially released to the public about the attacks was the result of legitimate confusion and conflicting reports.

Yes, retroactively the Benghazi compound clearly needed more security. And yes, it’s possible for political reasons that the Obama administration wanted the attacks to be spontaneous rather than a planned terrorist attack in order to appear more competent, but none of that means that Clinton acted negligently or should be criminally responsible for the deaths of four Americans.

The reason that the Benghazi Select Committee is absurd is that seven other committees, most of which are also controlled by Republicans, have already played some sort of role investigating this incident. The Benghazi committee has wasted 4.6 million taxpayer dollars—which is absolutely absurd for a party that prides itself on “fiscal responsibility”—held minimal public hearings, released misleading and false excerpts from classified proceedings, divulged the name of a confidential CIA Libyan source and, in the process of all of this, discovered no new information.

As the New York Times editorial board wrote, “If the committee members had truly wanted to add to the public’s understanding of the events leading up to the Benghazi attacks, they could have delved into the choices officials at the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency made before and after the attacks. They could also have examined Congress’s refusal to provide the funding the State Department has requested for security for its overseas installations. Instead, the Benghazi committee has focused only on Mrs. Clinton and her close aides.”

In regards to Republican political strategy, the committee’s focus on Clinton is a viable approach to diminishing her popularity. Since the committee was formed, her poll numbers, until recently, were dropping. What shouldn’t be permitted, however, is how the media looked the other way for two years and pretended this was a legitimate committee.

Until the admission by Republican Kevin McCarthy about the partisan nature and political motivations of the Benghazi committee a few weeks ago, most news sources were still treating Trey Gowdy’s Benghazi committee as legitimate.

Most descriptions of the committee presented both sides of the issue as equally valid. As if the Republicans insisting on a pointless committee designed to make Clinton look bad and the Democratic objections to this practice had the same amount of facts backing up their assertions. For years it was obvious this committee was nothing more than a sham. Congress already has Republican-controlled committees that investigated and were investigating the legitimate questions raised by the Benghazi attacks.

Trey Gowdy’s Select Committee on Benghazi has been wasting money, misrepresenting the facts and acting in a blatantly partisan manner since its inception. It’s nice to see the mainstream media finally start to accept this, but it shouldn’t have taken a Republican admitting it to spur some critical thinking and reporting by supposedly reputable news sources.

Follow Jacob Winkelman on Twitter.

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