Saturday, September 29, 2012 5:01 AM
The headlines sound promising: The entire Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Republicans and Democrats, has asked the State Department to explain what went wrong before, during and after the 9/11/12 attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, during which the US ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
But there's a catch. The bi-partisan letter that went out on September 27 says: "It would be very helpful to us if we could receive responses and a briefing on these matters during the week of November 13th when the Senate is expected to go back into session."
The election is on November 6th.
Benghazigate represents a major failure of intelligence and competence in national security by the Obama administration and the American people require all the facts on the table before they choose the next commander-in-chief. What was the GOP thinking in agreeing to a post-Election Day deadline?
CNN's reports that the bi-partisan letter came about in lieu of the Republican minority members' proposal for legislation demanding a formal Senate investigation -- exactly what's needed.
A Democratic source said Kerry agreed to send the letter -- which expounded on an earlier letter Kerry sent on his own September 17 to the State Department with several questions related to the incident -- after a committee meeting during which GOP members pushed for legislation requiring a formal investigation of what happened. Kerry responded by explaining that there is already a law requiring an investigation by the State Department.
The State Department isn't the Senate.
But he agreed to a request from Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Republican from Georgia, to send a letter signed by all the committee members with "additional questions" beyond what Kerry asked in his first letter.
Sen. Isakson and the other GOP senators were bested in the deal. Even if they didn't have the votes to call for a formal investigation, a few more questions in a letter signed by Democrats wasn't worth their acceptance of a November 13th deadline. The GOP was placated (played) with too little, too late. They need a "re-set" on this strategic setback, but quick.
Meanwhile, committee chairman and Obama's debating-prep-partner John Kerry is in Democrat-damage-control mode, downplaying the significance of the bipartisan letter. Kerry has accused the Republicans of trying "to exploit a very normal, run-of-the-course administrative letter that we agreed to on a bipartisan basis in our committee simply to get some additional questions put in front of the State Department that are part of their already existing investigation," as Kerry told MSNBC.
President Obama may call anti-US Muslim rioting in 27 countries and the murders of four Americans "bumps in road" -- imagine the media "out-of-touch" hysterics if Mitt Romney said that -- but Benghazi, for one, was not a "very normal, run-of-the-course" incident. Similarly, the Senate's demand for answers, even with an over-generous deadline, isn't either.
Was the Obama administration as negligent it appears to have been in the face of the ambassador's fears (discovered by CNN in Stevens' diary) that he was in jeopardy? The administration must release the Stevens cable flow. Similarly, what is behind the administration's hectoring insistence that a Youtube movie "caused" the attack? Early on, intelligence indicated a terrorist assault had taken place. This mystery demands a reckoning now, not later.
Who's engaged in the manipulative deception of "playing politics" here? Rule of thumb: When one side has something to hide, and one side wants everything on the table, the side trying to keep the facts hidden is ALWAYS the side playing politics -- and playing with fire.