For weeks now, as the scandal over the administration and State Department handling of the Benghazi, Libya affair has grown, supporters of President Obama have stridently criticized Congressman Darrell Issa, Chairman, House Intelligence Committee, for relentlessly pursuing answers regarding the Benghazi situation. Because Issa is a Republican, the critics have complained that all of the congressional complaints of stonewalling, inconsistent and incredible stories have been audible only in their right ears. Because Issa is a member of the Republican party, the Democrat defenders of the president have fled to their left, claiming that Issa’s only motivation could be partisan politics.
They also pointed out that the noise from the right was almost inaudible, because it was coming at such a low level – – the House of Representatives, considered by many to be the inferior plenum of the bicameral system.
But this past weekend a much different noise; an ear-piercing voice, added to the growing cacophony. And this powerful roar was coming in from the left. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Chairman, Senate Intelligence Committee, has now complained that congressional leaders have been blocked from reviewing reports on the scandal. "That's unacceptable," Senator Feinstein asserted in an interview on MSNBC, promising to pursue answers. Diane Feinstein is not a bellwether conservative. Certainly, Senator Feinstein’s comments were made in quiet, diplomatic form, but to those in the know, they were ear-piercing; if only for their source.
The senator’s concern also relates to a trip to Libya made by Petraeus prior to the attack on the Benghazi consulate which was not revealed to the public. Feinstein believes that the purpose for this trip might shed light on the reason help was not sent to the doomed team there. However, when she asked for the report, she was stonewalled.
“I believe that Director Petraeus made a trip to the region, shortly before this became public. I believe that there is a trip report. We have asked to see the trip report. One person tells me he has read it, and then we tried to get it and they tell me it hasn’t been done. That’s unacceptable. We are entitled to this trip report, and if we have to go to the floor of the Senate on a subpoena, we will do just that.”
When one of the highest ranking senators in the president's own party complains that she is being stonewalled and threatens a subpoena, one must seriously question whether this is (or ever was) simply a ‘partisan issue.” If Benghazi is partisan, then Watergate was partisan.
Since when are obvious terrorist attacks kept quiet? What is the tactical or strategic advantage? The CIA denies try to keep the terrorist aspect of 9/11 quiet? Help me with this. I ran Al Qaeda investigations for the Los Angeles Joint Terrorism Task Force, and I was apparently not aware of that tactic. I will, however, stipulate that it is possible that a unique one-in-a-million tactical situation arose which made it preferable to keep the nature of the attack quiet. But if so, the Director of the CIA did not know of it.
The FBI has primary jurisdiction globally for investigation of terrorist attacks against the United States—including Benghazi. Not CIA. Not the State Department. Why then was the FBI not told of the White House decision to keep the fact of a terrorist attack secret?
For those of you who have read my articles or discussed government with me, you know my position on potential scandals or unjustified withholding of information. My strong assertion is that when such a potential wrongdoing is uncovered or allegations made, members of both parties have the duty to aggressively investigate the allegations to either determine their validity or put them to rest. If wrongdoing has occurred, it is the responsibility of members on both sides of the aisle to rectify it, as they did in Watergate. If no wrongdoing has occurred, investigation will reveal that fact and allow the accused parties to be cleared. The innocent party should be ecstatic about the opportunity to close the issue.
When serious, credible allegations of wrongdoing are made, it is not partisan for a congressional party to call for an investigation, it is their duty—in fact it is a responsibility of both parties. The partisans are those who block the investigations. Can these investigations become partisan and have very political ends? Yes. And so can stonewalling to protect a member or office held by of one’s own party. That is the nature of government and politics in the United States. It’s not a sport for the faint of heart.
I realize that even if the administration is cleared of any wrongdoing in Benghazi-Gate, many on the far right will not believe President Obama is blameless. But that cannot be a bar to doing what is right. Members of the far left are still fighting Iran-Contra. However, the vast majority of Americans will let the issue go if logical evidence shows a good reason for the actions and inactions related to Benghazi.
But with voices screaming now in both of its ears, there is no safe direction for the administration to flee.