Editorial: Republicans transparent on Benghazi
In this March 12, 2014, file photo, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-SC,center, joins Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, right, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., left, as he speaks to reporters about a bill he has sponsored that charges President Barack Obama with failing to enforce federal laws, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, March 12, 2014. Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor, may be named to run a select committee House Speaker John Boehner is creating to investigate the Benghazi attack, escalating a political battle that has raged since the final days of President Barack Obamas re-election campaign. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, file)
Speaker John Boehner said the formation of a House select committee to investigate the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, is “all about getting to the truth.”
And maybe he believes that. Still, it’s hard to see this new investigation as anything other than a political move to weaken Democrats heading into the midterm elections and undermine Hillary Rodham Clinton’s potential presidential bid in 2016, especially when Republicans immediately started using the existence of the select committee for fundraising purposes.
Nobody has been more vocal about the perceived Benghazi conspiracy than Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who, along with Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, has relentlessly beaten the drum to the rhythm of Watergate. With that in mind, you would expect Ayotte to cheer Boehner’s vow to get at the truth regarding the Obama administration’s alleged misdirection in the hours and days following the attacks.
And cheer she did. But she couldn’t control her disappointment that the issue that so often places her on the national stage would now belong to another former prosecutor, Rep. Trey Gowdy, the South Carolina Republican who will lead the House select committee.
On Wednesday, Ayotte told Fox’s Greta Van Susteren she had great confidence in Gowdy, but that “it’s important, I think, for the Senate to have a piece of this.” The question is, why? There have been seven investigations and 13 hearings into the Benghazi tragedy and its aftermath. A recently released “talking points” email in which White House official Ben Rhodes tells then-U.N. ambassador Susan Rice and others that they should “underscore that these protests are rooted in an (anti-Muslim) internet video” hardly seems like the kind of smoking gun that would warrant a do-over for the McCain-Ayotte-Graham triumvirate.
“If you look at this four-page Rhodes memo, there’s only two sentences that pertain to Benghazi, which track exactly what the CIA talking points were,” Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, told Fox’s Chris Wallace on Sunday. “So, it’s very hard to use this memo as some kind of a justification.”
But that’s exactly what Republicans are doing, and that presents a difficult decision for Democrats in the House: They can either participate in the election-year circus or refuse to place Democrats on the committee.
We believe House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi should boycott the panel. She should make it clear that while she values the search for truth regarding Benghazi, she understands that there are more pressing foreign policy issues for Congress than whether the White House told Susan Rice what to say on Sunday television talk shows in September 2012.
Republicans in the House and Senate may not want to see the latest Benghazi investigation for what it is, but let’s hope voters go to the polls with their eyes wide open.