My Turn: It’s time to get to the bottom of Benghazi
More than 18 months after the terrible tragedy at Benghazi that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Congress is finally going to investigate what really happened that horrific night. The investigation has been brought on because of the Obama administration’s unwillingness to be forthright with the American people.
Congressman Trey Gowdy will be leading the inquiry, and during a recent press conference he listed a litany of questions that he believes, rightly, have gone unanswered by the Obama administration.
Based on the information that we now know, steps could have been taken to prevent this terrible tragedy. But why weren’t these steps taken? Americans deserve a full detailing of what happened those fateful days and an explanation as to why certain decisions were made and why requests for additional security and support were either ignored or denied.
Members of Congress and the public are dissatisfied with the administration’s response to this point. And it seems the more information that gets out, the more questions are raised. Recent evidence suggests that the White House spin machine was working overtime to help tamp down public criticism and distract Americans in the immediate aftermath of the attack on our consulate.
We know that the White House and other Obama administration spokespersons purposefully misled the American public. They claimed that the violence was in reaction to a video and not an orchestrated event. We know that White House personnel were complicit in creating made-for-TV talking points for administration officials and supporters that ignored the facts and glossed over the seriousness of the attack. Even today, administration officials are attempting to shrug off the Benghazi tragedy as “old news.”
It’s confounding that it has taken so long to get answers from the White House and State Department. President Obama promised the American people that he would run the most transparent administration in history. But all evidence points to this being one of the most opaque. It’s also disturbing and sad that members of Congress, including Rep. Ann Kuster, have been complicit in the Benghazi cover-up in one way or another. At a minimum, lawmakers like Kuster have been unwilling to exercise their oversight authority and their standing in the president’s party to get answers.
More troubling, though, is Kuster’s unwillingness to discuss this tragedy at an open forum with her constituents here in New Hampshire. Initially, when asked about it, Kuster appeared to be unclear as to why a constituent would inquire about Benghazi and unsure of its geographic location. And while everyone can forgive temporary lapses in world geography, it is what happened next that was most disturbing.
Not only did she refuse to answer any questions on Benghazi, she abruptly left the podium and ended the forum. Kuster has even refused to take questions from the audience and banned recording devices.
New Hampshire voters are proud of their place in electoral calendar. We’re a proving ground for candidates.
When candidates come here, Granite Staters expect them to answer tough questions. And eventually the discerning voters of the state cast their ballots for the candidate they think is best – a fateful decision that has reverberations across the country.
Candidates and those who represent us in Concord and Washington, D.C., should be open and honest and answer their constituents’ questions. That Kuster flouts this tradition is an insult to the people who put her in office. Ignoring questions from constituents, not allowing the press to cover events and following lockstep with the Obama administration may be the Democrat way, it may be the Ann Kuster way, but it is not the New Hampshire way.
Although we will not be able to bring back Ambassador Stevens and the other Americans who were killed in Benghazi, I hope that the investigation brings closure to this tragic chapter for the families of those four heroes – and brings some measure of comfort to them and all Americans who share the pain of this loss.
I also hope the investigation allows the United States to bring to justice those individuals responsible for the deaths of our fellow Americans. We must protect and defend the safety and honor of Americans who serve our country in foreign lands and in hostile parts of the world.
As an American, I’m sorry it has taken this long. As a New Hampshirite, I’m sorry that Rep. Kuster has been part of the problem.
(State Rep. Marilinda Garcia is a Salem Republican running in the 2nd Congressional District.)