Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) was one of 40 members of the United States Senate to vote against cloture on the nomination of former Republican Senator Charles Hagel as Secretary of Defense. [Senate Vote 21] Senator Heller’s contribution to Squirmage includes the following statement:
“U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who voted against advancing the nomination, echoed Republican sentiments, saying Thursday in a statement: “Even after sitting down with Senator Hagel in recent weeks, I still have concerns about his nomination to be secretary of defense. While I have great respect for Senator Hagel’s brave service in the Armed Forces, my colleagues and I are still waiting for additional information from the senator. I do not believe it is appropriate to move forward until that information is provided.” [RGJ/AP]
Additional information? What additional information? Would Senator like more information about the Benghazi attack? It’s becoming readily apparent that the GOP would like to keep the Benghazi station tragedy in the headlines until (1) something sticks, or (2) they find some other issue with which to assault the Obama Administration’s foreign policy. As truly tragic as the Benghazi attack was, it is one of many examples of the perils faced by our diplomats and foreign service personnel around the globe.
On January 22, 2002 radicals attacked the U.S. consulate in Calcutta, India. Five members of the mission were killed. On June 14, 2002 our consulate in Karachi, Pakistan was attacked, and 12 people were killed by the truck bomb. On February 28, 2003 two people died in an attack on our Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. June 30, 2004 our Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan was the target of a bomber; two died. On December 6, 2004 Al Qaeda militants attacked our diplomatic compound in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; nine members of our mission were killed. March 2, 2006 our diplomats were attacked again in Karachi, Pakistan when a car bomb detonated, killing 2 at the Consulate. September 12, 2006 gunmen attacked our Embassy in Damascus, Syria, four members of our diplomatic mission were killed.
January 12, 2007 an RPG was fired at our mission in Athens, Greece, fortunately there was no one killed as a result; but the results were different when on March 18, 2008 our diplomats in Sana’a, Yemen were fired on — two died. July 9, 2008 we lost six members of our mission to Turkey during a armed attack on our diplomatic personnel in Istanbul. There was worse to come again in Sana’a, Yemen, when two car bombs went off at our Embassy on September 17, 2008 killing 16 people. [complete list]
The obsessive focus on the Benghazi, which is far more intense than the attention we paid to post attacks in the previous Administration, illustrates little more than the Rule of Shifting Goal Posts. Republicans would be satisfied if they were briefed — they were in November 2012 when the Intelligence committees were given a closed door classified information briefing on the subject. [CNN] That was declared insufficient. Republicans were “troubled.”
One key critic, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) missed the briefing because he was holding a press conference…on Benghazi. [ABC] Republicans would be satisfied if the State Department offered testimony — it did, they weren’t. Republicans would be more pleased if Secretary Clinton testified — she did, they weren’t. At this juncture, the GOP was emitting Whitewater Signals. No matter what evidence might be provided, even documentation illustrating transparency and accountability, it would always be “troubling,” “insufficient,” “incomplete,” or “incredible.” If Senator Heller is playing this political game, it’s truly beneath the dignity of the office, and unhelpful toward the end of creating a cogent foreign policy.
The other game is even more deleterious. Tea Party darling, Republican Ted Cruz (R-TX) stepped into some treacherous territory:
“We do not know, for example, if he received compensation for giving paid speeches at extreme or radical groups,” Cruz told the Senate Armed Services Committee before it voted Tuesday to approve Hagel’s nomination. “It is at a minimum relevant to know if that $200,000 that he deposited in his bank account came directly from Saudi Arabia, came directly from North Korea.”
The “only reasonable inference” to draw from Hagel’s refusal to provide additional financial information, he said, is “there was something in there that they did not want to make public.” [RCP]
Senator Cruz is “demanding” five years worth of financial disclosure, although Committee rules require only two. The innuendo, offered without even a nod toward any substantiation, also flies in the face of separate disclosure requirements which call for 10 years worth of disclosure concerning any dealings with foreign nations. Cruz’s slanderous remarks are well beyond the pale. Surely, Senator Heller isn’t aligning himself with this line of attack?
There really is NO excuse for a no vote on former Senator Hagel’s nomination. The first excuse is little more than an exercise in Moving The Football, both hypocritical and a blatant exploitation of the Benghazi tragedy for political points. The second is an unconscionable reversion to McCarthyite guilt by suggested association; a Republican era to which we ought not return. Exactly what questions DO you have Senator Heller?