Tag Archives: Benghazi

Truck Attack on Reno Protesters; Trump Attack on Everyone Else

newspapers 1 ## The lead story on the Reno Gazette Journal website concerns two chubby white guys stalking and then driving a truck through a group of DAPL protesters in downtown Reno.  The two chubbies stopped a short distance away to “give their version of events” to police; fortunately there were no critical injuries sustained by members of the protest group.

## After the Citizens United debacle of a decision is anyone surprised that outside spending is a major feature of the Nevada senate seat race?  RGJ has more details.

## Perhaps it’s a measure of how “safe” the Nevada Congressional District 2 seat has become for Republicans that Mark Amodei is still backing Donald Trump:

“In the past couple of days every negative adjective in the English language has been used to describe Mr. Trump’s comments toward women,” Amodei said in the letter. “Frankly, the harsh criticism and outrage are, in my view, appropriate and deserved. Americans, in the final analysis, expect perfection, leadership, and someone they can be proud of as the leader of their country on the world political stage. At this point, sadly, neither nominee can lay claim to any of those traits.” [RGJ]

Amodei is now the only major Republican in Nevada supporting the Trump candidacy.  Maybe it’s appropriate to ask at this point – precisely WHAT has Secretary Clinton done that puts her even remotely close to the egregious behavior and insult driven campaign waged by the “deplorable” Mr. Trump?

The Benghazi Flap was a GOP manufactured pseudo-scandal upon which the GOP wasted two years and about $7 million dollars to come up with NOTHING.  The “emails” are another exercise in sound and fury signifying nothing.  If Representative Amodei is constructing his false equivalence predicated on these two bits of bombast, it’s a thin reed to grasp for the long run.

For his part, Mr. Trump announces himself unshackled from the Republican Party of which Rep. Amodei is a proud member, and launched one of his almost-patented Tweet Storms overnight.  Thus Representative Amodei places himself in support of the Donald J. Trump Insult-O-Rama:

Trump ChecklistThis isn’t exactly a list upon which to build a credible candidacy? For anyone. 

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Filed under Amodei, Native Americans, Nevada politics, Politics, Republicans, sexism, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

What Democrats Want To Talk About

GOP Tantrum

Enough said?

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Filed under Nevada politics, Politics

Take That Yellow Ribbon Magnet Off Your Bumper

Yellow Ribbon Senator Harry Reid (R-NV) nailed the ginned up controversy about the capture of a Libyan terrorist in this commentary:

“It doesn’t matter what your ideology is, you should feel good about this. There’s no conspiracy here, this is actual news. But the reaction of some of the Republicans, I’ve been told, is to downplay and insult the brave men and women of our special forces and the FBI. They’re trying to say, oh, it’s no big deal. I wonder if the men and women who captured the terrorist agree. But the Republicans said it’s no big deal. Even in these days of polarization, created by the obstruction, the delay, and diversion of the Republicans, even in these days of polarization, their reaction is shocking and disgusting. They’re so obsessed with criticism, criticizing anything President Obama does. They’ll go so far as to sit here and insult the men and women in uniform and in law enforcement. They should stop and think, just for a little bit, about what it’s like to put your life on the line and to do something for our country — that’s what they did. They’re insulting these good men and women who did some courageous things, heroic things, in order to criticize President Obama. I think they’ve lost touch with reality; it’s really pathetic, there’s no other word for it.” [TPM]

The Senate Majority Leader’s remarks contain the essence of the Republican response — belittle, allege conspiracy, insulting, and carping — because some credit might accrue to the Administration for coordinating the capture of the terrorist who launched the attack on our diplomatic outpost in Benghazi.

Indeed the capture of Khattala did garner much chattering in the wasteland that comprises Fox News. [TPM]  “It” was a conspiracy — a capture designed to help Sec. Hillary Clinton with her book tour? “It” was ill timed — gee, Khattala’s been walking free for two years, what was the Administration doing all that time?  The Administration could have issued the “go order” at any time!  Pathetic really is a well chosen word for this palaver.

Consider the result for a moment, and think of the intricacy of entire operation.  A terrorist 6,259 miles from the United States, in a country of 6.2 million people, is captured without being injured, and in an operation which did NOT result in any civilian casualties.  Further, the terrorist is not only captured, but arrested, to be charged with capital crimes against American citizens.  The case against him has to be built, carefully and with all the precision required by our system of justice.

Obviously, our Special Forces held up their end — the intelligence gathering, analysis, interpretation, and evaluation in addition to the assignment and training of personnel; and then the rehearsal, the plan modifications, the logistical coordination of men, transportation, supplies, and equipment — everything and everyone to be in the right place at the right time doing the right thing.

What thanks do they get from the carping right wing noise machine? They could have captured Khattala at any time?  Criticism of this ilk really has lost touch with reality — as if the critic is sitting in the living room with the game controller playing through a Shoot’em Up Script.  Criticism of this nature is an insult to those who plan, coordinate, assess, revise, and implement complicated military operations.

Those who “support the troops” should be appreciative of their efforts.

So, my right wing acquaintances — you can keep that yellow Support the Troops magnet on your bumper when:

1. You can give credit where credit is due. When you can applaud the killing of Osama Bin Ladin without sniffling. When you can applaud the take down of the Somali pirates without carping. When you can take pleasure in the surgical extraction of a known terrorist over 6,000 miles away and return the felon to face the charges he richly deserves.

2. You can call as loudly for the funding of veterans services and benefits as you do for launching military operations which create more veterans.  If I never hear another Republican like Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) say that veterans’ benefits are an entitlement we can’t afford [Electablog] it will be too soon.

3. You can understand that while we want our troops to have the best and most effective weapon systems we also need to pay the personnel who are to use them.  It doesn’t do to bellow about cuts to military BAH (Basic Allowance Housing) or subsidies for military families, while at the same time calling for balancing the budget and paying for weapons systems the Pentagon doesn’t even want.  The term we’re looking for here is “fiscal responsibility.” Fiscal responsibility in the very real world.

4. You call for using diplomacy before you shout for more young men and women to take on dangerous tasks in dangerous places. Professional members of our arms forces know that war is the failure of diplomacy — perhaps at some point you’ll understand this as well.

When you can comprehend these four things then I’ll no longer be justified in seeing your bumper magnet as merely a proclamation of your militarism and your disdain for the Commander in Chief.


Filed under Politics, Republicans

Selling Benghazi, One Shriek At A Time

PeacockWouldn’t it be nice if today were the day the House Republicans decided NOT to sound like a steel barn filled to the rafters with alarmed peacocks?

There are more people signed up for private health insurance plans than predicted. People have paid their premiums. There are fewer people without health insurance than five years ago. [BusWk] So, what could be more predictable than…………

Benghazi! [Salon]

And, Heaven Forefend, anyone would ever believe the Republicans would attempt any fundraising on the tender subject?  Oh, they did? Yes, the Republican National Committee quickly sent out the message, trampling on Rep. Trey Gowdy’s disclaimer:

“I have never sought to raise a single penny on the back of four murdered Americans,” Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” earlier this week.  A few minutes before Gowdy’s TV appearance, however, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) sent out an e-mail blast urging backers to become  “Benghazi Watchdogs” by giving money. “You can become a Benghazi Watchdog right now,” says the message on the NRCC’s “BenghaziWatchdog.com web site.” [Seattle PI]

But wait…there’s MORE!  There’s Merchandise.  Car magnets. Beer glasses. Throw pillows.  Shower curtains. Calendars. Iphone cases. And, my all time favorite — the pink footed pajamas.

What’s interesting about the merchandise, beyond the truly tacky nature of the products, are the ‘themes.’

There’s the “Alamo” motif on the car magnet admonishing us never to forget the patriots who died defending the diplomatic post — without mentioning that some of our Libyan allies also died there, and that Ambassador Stevens had opted not to accept additional security, along with the not so minor and well publicized cuts made to diplomatic security funding by the Republicans in the House.

There’s the “Bloody Hand” theme on the beer glass which conveniently merges U.S. operation in Afghanistan, Fast and Furious, and Benghazi into an arch above the logo.  Whoa, and here I was thinking that the GOP was in favor of our military intervention in Afghanistan?  How do you reconcile your “Bloody Hand” beer glass with your “Support the Troops” ribbon coasters?  And, if memory serves, wasn’t F&F launched during a previous administration?

That throw pillow will let the prospective owners get a jump on the Hillary Clinton bashing which will surely be a right wing theme in 2016 should the former Senator and Secretary of State decide to run for the presidency.  The owners will recognize Mrs. Clinton, Ambassador Rice, but want to make bets on how many will have to resort to Google to find out who “Mills” is?  Hint: You probably don’t know ‘Mills’ unless you are an aficionado of right wing conspiracy sites.

The shower curtain is pure 2016.  “Benghazi, what difference does it make,” — Clinton, is excerpted out of the context of her testimony to the Senate panel.   Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) tried to get the former Secretary to say the administration believed the attack was the result of ire about the anti-Islam video, Mrs. Clinton was having none of if, and retorted:

“With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans,” Clinton responded, raising her voice at Johnson, who continued to interrupt her. “Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk last night who decided to kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.” [HuffPo]

But, it’s really hard to get all of that on a shower curtain.  The essential question — what happened and how to prevent it from happening again — don’t seem to be part of the right wing screech machine repertoire.

The calendar asks “Who gave the stand down order?”  Huh? There was no stand down order, in fact the CIA rushed some operatives to the rescue in addition to some military assets which were immediately available. [Snopes]  If you want an accurate calendar, just cut off the top.

However, the Iphone case “Nobody died at Watergate, Impeach Obama now!” demonstrates that the Republicans have still not moved on from June 17, 1972.  Whatever any Democratic Party member does from now to eternity, will be “just as bad as Watergate!” No matter what.

The pink pajamas, with footies, reverts to the Alamo Theme — never forget. Possibly not, if for the heft price of $74.50 the decal tends to bleed if the sleeper sweats onto the sheets. And, should enough sweat permeate enough pj’s onto enough sheets then perhaps a substantial number of Klan members will be recalling Benghazi at future meetings?

But, hey, the House GOP isn’t being shrill about this — like screeching peacocks — they just want to raise a little money.

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Filed under Politics, Republicans

Post Scripts and Other Matters

PS post script** Oh, by the way, there’s another problem with House Speaker John Boehner’s commentary on “no new regulations” highlighted by the Examiner:

“In the last 5 years that Obama has been President, Republicans in Congress have done all that they could to loosen regulations for hazardous waste, and to make it harder for the EPA to protect our nation’s water and air. Republicans have even gone as far as calling for the abolishment of the EPA.”  More here.

** Benghaziiiiiiiii — Nevada Progressive reports that Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) is going to head up a House committee to investigate…. wait for it…. Benghazi.  All I can add is that a person hoping to maintain some sanity should click over to Sound Cloud and click on Rocky Mountain Mike’s Right Wing Troll Notification System audio.

Should the latest Benghazi “investigation” not wish to re-invent the wheel, or the use of fingers to get food from fire to mouth for that matter, there are some excellent sources of information.  There’s the State Department’s Accountability Review Board report (pdf) and there’s David Fitzpatrick’s excellent reportage for the New York Times (December 28, 2013.   If that’s not enough for you, there’s the 85 page report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (pdf) issued on January 15, 2014.

But then, nothing will ever be enough to satisfy the anti-Secretary Clinton crowd, and generally befuddled Faux News viewers, who cling to their conspiracy theories and react vehemently  to every new report debunking their fantasies.  Replay the “Right Wing Troll Notification System,” then read Bob Cesca’s “13 Benghazis that Occurred Bush’s Watch Without A Peep From Fox News.” [HuffPo]

** On a more serious note, see the NVRDC’s post on the Mythical Budget Deficit.   And, you know I’m going to quote a piece that includes my favorite economic concept for 2008-2014 — “aggregate demand:”

“The government should not be running a fiscal surplus when aggregate demand is still lagging in the macro economy. The country’s infrastructure is falling apart and we should be fixing it right now because the money is there and isn’t being used to expand employment or investment in the private sector. Instead coporate balance sheets are hoarding cash and using it to pay special dividends and stock buybacks for the investor class. That money should be put to work investing in America!” (emphasis added)

Combine this reading with Dan Crawford’s post on Angry Bear, “Time to end redistribution upwards…” (January 16, 2014)

** The campaign to elect Niger Innis to the Congressional seat held by Representative Steven Horsford (D-NV4) [Ralston] [Sebelius] seems to have gotten off to a rough start, with an FEC complaint [Ralston] from another candidate, “concerned citizen, ” whatever…

** We’re Number 2 — in the nationwide rate for residential foreclosures. Florida is still number 1. [RGJ]

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Filed under Economy, Politics, Republicans

Forests and Trees

forestThe current hyper-partisan environment in Washington, D.C. appears to be both a result and function of the Village Press which has confused incidents and policy to such an extent that it is difficult to separate the scandals du jour from the policy reforms which might mitigate the possibilities of future foul ups.

Case in point: Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi.   As long as the D.C. press continues to focus on the construction of talking points in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attack on a diplomatic outpost seeking an elusive, and very likely non-existent connection to political machinations in campaign season, we’ll not get around to addressing some very real problems which make our diplomatic missions less safe.

There is another way to frame this information issue:  As long as the D.C. press corps is intent on categorizing all policy decisions and governmental activity in political terms we won’t get deeply enough into the policy implications.  This framing is easy, requires very little if any policy expertise, and can be deftly constructed to create a platform for hyperbole. The focus may sell newspapers and advertising but it’s not very helpful when looking for ways to solve real problems.

It might be interesting to know how many of the commentators and pundits who have graced us on the Sunday morning jabberwocky sessions have read the 39 page report from the State Department’s independent review panel.  (pdf)  Those who have will be familiar with the following sample of recommendations for action made by the independent review panel.

The Department must strengthen security for personnel and platforms beyond traditional reliance on host government security support in high risk, high threat posts.

The Board recommends that the Department re-examine DS organization and management with a particular emphasis on span of control for security policy planning for all overseas U.S. diplomatic facilities.

Regional bureaus should have augmented support within the bureau on security matters, to include a senior DS officer to
report to the regional Assistant Secretary.

The Department should develop minimum security standards for occupancy of temporary facilities in high risk, high threat environments, and seek greater flexibility for the use of Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) sources of funding so that they can be rapidly made available for security upgrades at such facilities.

The Board supports the State Department’s initiative to request additional Marines and expand the Marine Security Guard (MSG) Program – as well as corresponding requirements for staffing and funding.

The Board strongly endorses the Department’s request for increased DS personnel for high – and critical – threat posts and for additional Mobile Security Deployment teams, as well as an increase in DS domestic staffing in support of such action.

Perhaps instead of endlessly opining on the subject of how the Department of State and the Central Intelligence Agency disputed the crafting of information to be made available to the public at large (including interested parties in Libya) we might take a moment to ask:

# What actions have the Department of State and other governmental agencies taken to reduce our reliance on host nation security forces for the protection of diplomatic outposts?

# What actions have been taken to better coordinate the agencies and departments responsible for developing and implementing plans for outpost security in high risk environments?

# If we are using temporary facilities in high risk areas what contingency plans are now in place to reduce the probability of attack.  Granted, we shouldn’t announce our security plans to the entire world, but it would be nice to know that the Department of State and other agencies are coordinating their efforts to plan for the use of temporary facilities and to mitigate threats.

# Where were the Marines?  The quick answer is: In Tripoli.  The important question isn’t why weren’t they dispatched to the scene immediately?  Quick answer: The were guarding the permanent embassy in Libya. The long answer is another question:  What is the appropriate kind of staffing for diplomatic security?

“Approximately 90 percent of U.S. diplomatic security personnel are private contractors, according to Deborah Avant, a scholar with a doctorate from the University of California San Diego who oversees The Private Security Monitor, an independent research project on government contracting.”  [UTSanDiego]

Do we want to increase funding for the expansion of the Marine Security Guard (MSG) Program? Or, do we want to rely on privately contracted security personnel?   If we mix the two, what percentage should be military personnel? Corporate security personnel?  Contractors from the host nation?  No, this kind of discussion doesn’t make for rousing ratings, but it would be far more informative than bickering about who edited talking points for Sunday morning consumption.

# The independent review panel urged the State Department to “increased DS personnel for high – and critical – threat posts and for additional Mobile Security Deployment teams, as well as an increase in DS domestic staffing in support of such action.”

“The State Department is asking Congress for more than $1.3 billion to boost security, out of contingency funds once allocated for Iraq: $553 million for additional Marine security guards, $130 million for civilian diplomatic security personnel and $691 million for installation improvements, officials told The New York Times.” [UTSanDiego]

The request has been made, now we need to know how much of this recommendation has be implemented, or is in the process of implementation?  Perhaps we could even find out how Marine Corps plans to get 1,000 more guards trained and available for diplomatic security duty?  Do they have the funding necessary to make all posts as secure as reasonably possible? Or, are current funding levels sufficient to meet some needs but not others?

The recommendations mentioned above are only a handful, and not representative of the entire report, but they are illustrative of the kinds of questions we should be discussing as a civil society with legitimate concerns for the safety of our diplomatic endeavors.  So long as the Villagers are content to air the political rendition of the Bickersons we’ll not likely hear much about the policy changes necessary to improve diplomatic security.

Case in Point:  The Tax Man Cometh.  The Internal Revenue Service faced a veritable flood of requests for 501 c(3) and 501 (c) 4 status (tax exempt) in recent years.  There were no less than 2,744 501 (c) 4 applications in 2012:

Compare that to 1,777 applications in 2011 and 1,741 in 2010, federal records show. Not since 2002, when officials processed 2,402 applications, have so many been received.

Meanwhile, Exempt Organizations Division staffing slid from 910 employees during fiscal year 2009 to 876 during fiscal year 2012, agency personnel documents indicate.

In 2010, IRS officials projected exempt division staffing at 942 employees. But IRS officials cut the number to 900 after the agency began slashing its budget in response to fiscal woes affecting most corners of the federal government.  [CPI]

Thus we have a decreasing number of people handling a 56% increase in the number of applications in a single year — and what do people tend to do when an agency is short handed?  They make short cuts.  In this instance some not very good ones.   We can quibble endlessly about who did what to whom? However, questions like is the “targeting” of right wing groups comparable to IRS investigations of Green Peace or the NAACP?” aren’t very constructive.   There are two policy points in this controversy, each less well covered in our media than would be good for us.

# Who should be making decisions about the application of campaign finance laws?  There are some legitimate lines of inquiry here:

“For the I.R.S.’s bipartisan legion of critics, the agency’s record has underscored its contradictory and seemingly confused response to the fastest-growing corner in the world of unlimited political spending: tax-exempt groups that have paid for at least half a billion dollars in campaign ads during the last two election cycles.

The I.R.S. has done little to regulate a flood of political spending by larger groups — like Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, co-founded by Mr. Rove, and Priorities USA, with close ties to President Obama — as well as Republican leaders in Congress and other elected officials. And an agency that is supposed to stay as far away from partisan politics as possible has been left in charge — almost by accident — of regulating a huge amount of election spending.”  [NYT]

Given the amount and sources of political funding in this country, it hardly seems rational to leave the determination of regulation to an agency tasked with revenue collection.  Perhaps we ought to be using this latest “scandal” as a starting point toward rationalizing our campaign finance structure?  We can see the agency struggling with how to deal with groups that announced their intention to “improve our general welfare,” but whose main object was to funnel campaign funds.   How was the agency to determine what was political and lobbying and what was “advocacy?”  Would a political, as contrasted with a social welfare, organization necessarily be involved with limited or expanding government, or with educating people about the Constitution?  [ABC pdf]  Should the term “party” in the title of the group be an acceptable flag identifying the applicant as a political rather than a social welfare or educational organization?   There is appropriate indignation from both sides of the political aisle about the shorthand methodology of the IRS, but that still leaves us wondering — Who is in charge of implementing campaign finance regulation in this country?

# Is the Internal Revenue Service appropriately staffed to allow that agency to meet citizens’ needs in a timely and accurate fashion?  Do we really believe that cutting staff from 942 to 900 will mean there are enough people to review the increasing number of applications for tax exempt status?  Is the agency so understaffed that there is a temptation to ignore the Big Players while smaller organizations get more scrutiny?

Case in Point: Pressing the Press.  The Department of Justice used FISA warrants to obtain information from 20 telephone lines related to reporting by the Associated Press.

“The organization was not told the reason for the seizure. But the timing and the specific journalistic targets strongly suggested they are related to a continuing government investigation into the leaking of information a year ago about the Central Intelligence Agency’s disruption of a Yemen-based terrorist plot to bomb an airliner.” [NYT]

We need to tread carefully here.  In 2008 Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act, in the wake of revelations about the NSA warrantless wiretaps during the Bush Administration.   This would be the self-same H.R. 6304 about which the ACLU raised significant objections.     The bill passed with a 293 to 129 vote in the House of Representatives on June 20, 2008 [roll call 437] and by a vote of 69 to 28 in the Senate on July 9th.  [roll call 168]  There were 188 House Republicans who voted for the bill and 105 Democrats voting in favor.  128 Democrats voted against it, while only 1 Republican (Rep. Johnson, IL) voted “no.”   All 28 “no” votes in the U.S. Senate were cast by Democrats.

While the Associated Press may characterize the the intrusion in angry terms:

“Gary Pruitt, the president and chief executive of The A.P., called the seizure, a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into its news gathering activities.

“There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters,” he wrote. “These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the news gathering activities undertaken by The A.P. during a two-month period, provide a road map to A.P.’s news gathering operations, and disclose information about A.P.’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know.” [NYT]

The Associated Press ought not get a free pass in this instance because (1) we don’t know if it was “massive,” — we actually don’t know much of anything because that’s how the FISA Law was written,  (2) we don’t know if it was “overbroad” either because that’s how the FISA Law was drafted, and (3) we don’t know if AP’s “sources and methods” were compromised — and we probably aren’t going to find out because in the wake of various acts of terrorism the majority of members of the 110th Congress were pleased to enact ‘reformed’ measures to allow for this kind of surveillance in cases of national security (in this instance a CIA operation).   If the Associated Press naively thought it was somehow immune to the provisions of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 because a press pass is as good as a law-proof vest, then they’ve been sorely disabused of their optimism.

Some caution should be exercised when we call for a No-Holds Barred approach to “fighting the War on Terror” in the name of national security, because while it may appear to be a grand idea when the target is a potential or alleged terrorist or someone associated with a potential or alleged terrorist —  it’s a whole different ball game when the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 is applied to you.

The discussion in this instance needs to be more broadly focused — not on whether or not the AP is an aggrieved party or if CIA operational methods and sources were compromised by reporting — but on whether we may finally be ready to take a serious look at the objections to H.R. 6304 which were raised by the ACLU and other civil rights organizations when the law was being considered.

Simply bouncing from one “scandal” to the next in order to boost ratings and sell print isn’t going to serve the American public any better now than it did when we followed Whitewater into nothingness.   With each major incident there is a choice to be made — either follow popular titillation with the shallow aspects of a scandal, or take a more measured long term view which addresses serious questions about which we should demand serious answers.  It’s the difference between be able to discern good wood from pulp.

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Filed under campaign finance reform, civil liberties, Foreign Policy

Profiles in Squirmage: Heller on Hagel

Heller 2Senator 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?

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Filed under Foreign Policy, Heller