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Too Much Benghazi

I have had enough of the Republicans’ screaming about Benghazi.  They are overjoyed that Amb. Stevens was killed, and they are dancing on his grave, making political capital with his death.  They, of course, argue that it is the administration and the Democrats who are dishonoring his death by not saying that he was killed by terrorists.  If you compare Benghazi to the friendly-fire death of Pat Tillman in Afghanistan, where the Bush administration actually lied to cover up the fact that he was killed by friendly fire, there is no doubt that the Obama administration was more honest and more concerned about the death of those serving this country.

Only recently has it become clear that Benghazi was neither an embassy nor a consulate; it was some kind of other diplomatic mission, which seems to have been devoted to the CIA.  There were relatively few State Department personnel there; the Ambassador and an IT specialist just happened to be visiting when the attack occurred.  It’s not clear what the CIA was doing; they could have been advising local leaders on political and security issues, or they might have been planning drone attacks on the very people who attacked the mission.  If that’s the case, they were just too slow.

I also think it’s unbalanced to have a man of outstanding moral character arguing with a low-life like Issa.  Wikipedia says Issa was accused of several car thefts, although he apparently was never convicted, and collected on a large fire insurance policy on his company under suspicious circumstances.  He apparently served honorably in the military, although apparently without leaving the US or serving in combat.  Meanwhile, Ambassador Pickering is an honorable man who has served in many senior jobs in the State Department, as ambassador to several countries and as assistant secretary and under secretary in Washington.  While I was an intelligence analyst in the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research, I worked with Pickering when he was Assistant Secretary for Oceans, Environment, and Science, and had such a high opinion of him that he is one of the reasons I stayed in the Foreign Service.

Ambassador Pickering’s report led to the firing of several State Department employees from their jobs dealing with security.  The Republicans are less interested in security; they are only interested in the talking points prepared for Ambassador Rice the Sunday after the Benghazi attacks, claiming that the talking points were modified for political reasons because of Obama’s election campaign.

There seems to be some consensus that the attack was carried out by a group called Ansar al Sharia, although different from the group with the same name in Yemen. This group made a positive name for itself during the rebellion against Qaddafi, but it aroused hostility by its attack on the Benghazi mission, especially since Amb. Stevens was well known and loved by the Libyan people.  It does not appear that it has done anything of significance since 9/11/2012.  It seems to me that in a rational world the Republicans would be mad at Ansal al Sharia for killing the Americans, rather than at President Obama for allowing some watered-down talking points to be used while the US Government was still trying to figure out exactly what happened.

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