Tag Archives: Benghazi

Memo to GOP: Remember ‘Benghazi’?

Republicans in Congress and their friends in the media are now singing loudly from the same political hymnal.

They want special counsel Robert Mueller to either be fired or they want him to conclude his investigation into the “Russia thing.”

Oh, they have such short memories.

I feel compelled to remind them all of one word: Benghazi.

The GOP conducted an investigation with seemingly no end. It involved then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and whether she committed some sort of crime in relation to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The attack killed four Americans, including the nation’s ambassador to Libya.

They held hearings. They brought Clinton before congressional panels. They quizzed her, berated her, threatened to “lock her up!” over the chaos that ensued from that tragic event.

It went on for years. From 2012 until 2016. It cost millions of dollars of public funds.

Now we have Mueller on the hunt for the truth behind another highly sensitive matter: whether Donald Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russian government officials who sought to meddle in our 2016 presidential election.

They now are alleging bias in the Mueller team. They point to two staffers who exchange pro-Hillary email and text messages — before Mueller fired them when their antipathy toward Trump became known.

Some in the conservative media are pressuring the president to fire Mueller. Big mistake, folks! The president says there’s no evidence of collusion. Fine. Then, let Mueller’s team reach that conclusion on its own.

As for the calls for the special counsel to wrap up his probe, Republicans on Capitol Hill and around the country need to examine their own conduct during another probe involving a prominent Democratic politician.

If we’re going to demand a thorough probe into alleged wrongdoing, then it must apply to everyone.

Isn’t that only fair?

Sen. Paul backs off on investigations … seriously?

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said the following on Fox News Radio. Pay attention, please.

“I think that might be excessive. I think it looks like the President has handled the situation and unless there’s some kind of other evidence of malfeasance, this sounds like something that was internal White House politics and it looks like the President’s handled it. … I just don’t think it’s useful to be doing investigation after investigation, particularly of your own party. We’ll never even get started with doing the things we need to do like repealing Obamacare if we’re spending our whole time having Republicans investigate Republicans. I think it makes no sense.”

The Kentucky Republican is talking about whether Congress needs to investigate allegations that former national security adviser Michael Flynn met with Russian intelligence officials during the 2016 presidential campaign. These meetings lie at the heart of the swirling controversy that threatens to engulf the Trump administration.

Republicans who run Congress do not need to investigate the Republican president, Sen. Paul said.

Investigations take up too much time he said, distracting lawmakers from more important matters.

Wow! I guess he forgot about all the Benghazi hearings involving former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that, um, turned up nothing. Zero!

Oh, wait! It’s OK for Congress to launch interminable investigations looking for dirt on someone from the other party.

Is that correct, Sen. Paul? Well … Senator?

‘You’d be in jail’ … except that Hillary won’t go there


Donald J. Trump spoke a lot of trash during his winning campaign for the presidency.

He turned to Hillary Rodham Clinton during a presidential debate and said “You’d be in jail” in response to a statement she made about his lack of understanding of the rule of law.

Then he talked about appointing a special prosecutor to look for proof that she was as “crooked” as he said she was.

Except that now he’s not going to anything of the sort.

That is a very good call from the president-elect.


Trump says now he wants to focus on the fixing the country. He doesn’t want any distractions, such as a futile special prosecutor’s probe into matters that already have been determined to be out of reach for any prosecutor.

The e-mail controversy? The alleged “pay for play”? Benghazi?

It’s all been settled. The FBI determined there was no criminality involved with the e-mail server Clinton used while she was secretary of state. Pay for play has been nothing more than a political talking point. A congressional select committee has been unable to prosecute Clinton for anything involving the Sept. 11, 2012 fire fight at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

I wonder now if Trump is going to offer any expressions of “regret” or — dare I say — an actual apology for defaming Clinton with the “crooked Hillary” label.

Actually, there’s no need to wonder. The president-elect has told us already he never regrets anything … ever.

Moderator deserves a good word


Elaine Quijano has earned a good word on this morning after the vice-presidential “debate.”

The CBS News correspondent/anchor didn’t do a great job refereeing the exchange between Democratic nominee Tim Kaine and Republican nominee Mike Pence.

As I look back on it after a good night’s sleep, my conclusion is that it wasn’t totally her fault. She sought to reel in the fellas, sought to keep them answering the questions, she sought to avoid the constant interruptions that were initiated by the amped-up Kaine.

She got caught in a buzzsaw of campaign rhetoric, throwaway lines, talking points, insults and, oh yeah, the occasional policy differences that emerged from the candidates.

I want to echo something I heard last night from the post-“debate” analysis about the best question of the evening. It dealt with candidates’ religious faith and how it informs their public policy.

Both men exhibited clear understanding of faith and explained in clear and concise language how it works for them in their public life. Bravo to them both for ending the evening on somewhat of a civil note — and bravo to Quijano for the question.

As we’ve been seeing, though, in these joint appearances, the media moderators are becoming a bit of a distraction. Dating back four years ago when CNN’s Candy Crowley corrected GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s incorrect assertion that Barack Obama didn’t call the Benghazi attack an act of terrorism, media and politicians have been waiting for future moderators to interject themselves into the political dialogue.

Quijano, unfortunately, became part of the story again last night.

From my perch out here in Flyover Country, though, I believe she delivered a creditable effort at staying above the fray. I only wish the candidates would have done a better job of focusing on the issues at hand.

When in doubt, go with your gut


A young friend of mine is going to vote this year for the first time in her life.

She is 23 years of age. She is torn over this election. Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump? After visiting with her for a few minutes Tuesday, I concluded she is likely to vote for Trump.

But she said something I want to share here.

My friend said she is reluctant to vote for anyone without knowing all there is to know about the candidates, their views on public policy, their philosophy or their world view.

“I just don’t know what to do,” she said.

Her biggest concern about Clinton? Benghazi. My friend believes Clinton was responsible for the deaths that occurred there during that fire fight on Sept. 11, 2012. We tussled a bit over what Hillary knew in the moment, what she should have known and what she could have done to prevent it.

I told her later I’ve been voting for president since 1972. I cast my first vote that year with great pride and anticipation. That vote — the first one — still means more to me than all the other ballots I’ve cast.

“I voted for the guy who lost … big time,” I told her, “but it meant a great deal to me.”

When in doubt, I ended up telling my friend, “go with your gut.”

It doesn’t really matter that voters get their arms around every detail of every issue. All that matters, in my view, is that they feel comfortable in their own gut and heart with the choice they make.

Moderators should, uh, moderate

NBC NEWS - EVENTS -- Decision 2012 -- Pictured: Lester Holt -- (Photo by: Michele Leroy/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Call me an old-school fuddy-duddy.

Lester Holt of NBC News has a big task ahead of him Monday night. He gets to moderate the joint appearance between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican nominee Donald J. Trump.

I liken his role to that of an athletic event referee. The best officiating jobs are done by those you don’t notice.

Accordingly, some of the chatter leading up to the event has been whether the moderator should correct candidates’ misstatements.

I’ve thought about this for about the past four years and I’ve concluded that Holt should not interfere. He should not interject himself into the storyline. He shouldn’t become part of the story … as CNN’s Candy Crowley did in 2012 when she corrected a statement that Mitt Romney made about whether President Obama had declared the fire fight at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya to be a terrorist attack.

That wasn’t Crowley’s job.

Her job then — and Holt’s will be Monday — was to ask questions of the candidates and to let them correct each other if and when the need arose.

If the moderators were to correct the candidates, then how do they determine which misstatements they let pass and which ones do they correct?

I prefer that they not make the call.

Of course, given the nature of social media these days, a non-call also would become “news.” Commentators no doubt would make them have to answer for their decision to let the candidates’ statements go unchallenged.

Sigh …

Still, my old-school tendency leads me to believe the moderator’s job isn’t to become a fact-checker. It is to be a referee. The best refs are those we don’t notice during a competitive event.

Time for Clinton to meet the press … head-on


As one who used to make his living trying to hold politicians accountable for their words and deeds, I am perplexed by Hillary Clinton’s aversion to answer questions from the media.

Politico Magazine calls it her “phobia” of press conferences.

Count me as someone who believes the Democratic Party’s presumptive presidential nominee should stand firm in front of microphones and answer the tough questions she knows would come at her during a formal press conference.


As Politico reports, Clinton hasn’t done so since December 2015. When CNN’s Jake Tapper asked her about that, according to Politico, Clinton “blithely” told him that she’d get around to it eventually.

Mme. Secretary, a lot has transpired since the end of this past year.

We’ve had the House Select Benghazi Committee complete its work. FBI Director James Comey announced just the other day that he won’t recommend bringing criminal charges against her in the e-mail controversy, which effectively ends that tumult. Republicans in Congress, though, plan to look some more into whether the FBI did its due diligence in examining the e-mail matter.

And oh yes, she’s got this presidential campaign and she ought to answer some of the weird insults that GOP candidate Donald J. Trump keeps tossing her way.

I get that politicians of all stripes are skittish when the press starts poking around. But hey, it’s their job to ask difficult questions when they need answers.

It’s also the politicians’ job to answer those questions when the media start asking them.

It’s not as if Hillary Clinton is a stranger to this exercise. She served as Arkansas first lady, then the nation’s first lady, then a U.S. senator from New York (which has a notoriously ferocious media climate) and then secretary of state.

She’s now campaigning for the most important office in the nation — if not the world!

It’s not going to get any easier for her from this moment on.

Inquiring minds, Mme. Secretary, are asking for answers to many serious questions.

No ‘new evidence’ found to implicate Clinton …


So, do you think the battle has ended in the fight to use “Benghazi” as a tool to derail Hillary Rodham Clinton’s march to the White House?

I wish. It will continue full throttle.

The U.S. House Select Committee on Benghazi has concluded its expensive and highly partisan probe of the former secretary of state’s role in that terrible tragedy that erupted on Sept. 11, 2012 at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Four Americans died in a chaotic firefight that night. One of them was Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

Then-House Speaker John Boehner convened this committee to get to the truth behind what happened. The panel, led by Republican U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, called dozens of witnesses, plowed over the same ground repeatedly and then finally concluded that they cannot find any “new evidence” that Clinton did anything wrong.

Sure, they found plenty with which to criticize the administration. The military was ill-prepared to deal with the terrorist attack on the compound, the panel said. The administration didn’t do enough to protect the staffers who got caught up in the frenzy, it concluded.

In the end, though, it has determined that Clinton wasn’t culpable, that she didn’t engage in a cover-up.

Oh, but now she’s running for president of the United States. Rest assured that her foes are going to continue to question the manner in which she responded to the emergency.

And, oh yes, we have those e-mails and Clinton’s of a private personal account to distribute State Department messages. The FBI is investigating that matter.


This has been an expensive endeavor, costing an estimated $7 million. Many of us — me included — are quite convinced that Speaker Boehner wanted to find something that would implicate Clinton as she sought the presidency. The panel came up short.

But for those who are looking and lusting for more dirt to fling at the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, they likely will take some “comfort” in the knowledge that questions will linger as long as there are enemies of the former secretary of state around to raise them.

Still, I’m glad this select committee’s work is finished.


‘Benghazi’ chairman admits what was thought all along

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reacts as she is introduced to speak at the Massachusetts Conference for Women in Boston, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

This item is making the rounds throughout social media.

To wit:

In the most outlandish version of this story, President Obama or Hillary Clinton ordered the military to “stand down” rather than come to the aid of the Americans who were under attack.

Earlier this week, a letter from two House Democrats to Rep. Trey Gowdy, the South Carolina Republican who is chairing the select committee investigating the Benghazi attack, revealed that the GOP’s own chief investigator acknowledged during the investigation that nothing “could have been done differently to affect the outcome in Benghazi.”

…In an interview on Fox News today, Gowdy responded to this newly released information by acknowledging, “Whether or not they could have gotten there in time, I don’t think there is any issue with respect to that — they couldn’t.”

Chairman Gowdy, thus, has acknowledged that the four brave Americans who died in the firefight at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, were doomed from the start.

Terrorists attacked the compound. They set it afire. They exchanged fire with security personnel. Four individuals — including Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, died.

Ever since that tragic event, congressional Republicans have sought to deliver the goods on then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. They’ve accused her of lying, of covering up the events.

Her response to many of these allegations has been at times clumsy and inarticulate. There have been confusing answers regarding a video that allegedly sparked the riot at the consulate.

This entire tragedy has taken on a life of its own.

The central question, though, has been whether U.S. officials did enough to stave off the deaths of those who were killed.

Chairman Gowdy now seems to have answered that question.

They did all they could do.


Benghazi probe gets punctured

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, center, is escorted to a secure floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, to be questioned in a closed-door hearing of the House Benghazi Committee. The panel, chaired by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., is investigating the 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, where a violent mob killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Benghazi has become a sort of buzz word in Washington.

It’s come to mean far more than it should mean, which ought only to identify the place where four brave Americans died in a spasm of confusion and anger in a firefight on Sept. 11, 2012 at the U.S. consulate in that Libyan city.

The term also has come to symbolize the ongoing effort to derail the presidential ambitions of the individual who was secretary of state at the time of the tragedy.

Hillary Rodham Clinton has testified before a House select committee. So have others with direct knowledge of what happened. And yet, the probe goes on and on and on …

Now we hear from a former congressional lawyer who said, by golly, that all the parties concerned did what was humanly possible to save the lives of the four Americans who died.

End of argument? One might hope so.

But … no-o-o-o!

The lawyer, Dana Chipman, who worked for the Benghazi select panel, said there was no more that could have been done. The terrorists who attacked the consulate overwhelmed the facility in a surprise attack.


That won’t stop Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., from continuing his pursuit of something — anything! — he can find that will undermine the presumed Democratic Party presidential nominee’s political quest.

According to the Huffington Post: “I think you ordered exactly the right forces to move out and to head toward a position where they could reinforce what was occurring in Benghazi or in Tripoli or elsewhere in the region,” Chipman told (Defense Secretary Leon) Panetta in the committee’s January interview with the former defense secretary, according to transcribed excerpts. “And, sir, I don’t disagree with the actions you took, the recommendations you made, and the decisions you directed.”

So, there you have it. End of story? It should be. It probably won’t end anytime soon. Maybe it’ll never end.