Saturday, November 17, 2012

Smoke, Catacombs and Partisanship

Once again in the nation's capital, blue smoke curls around black ops to make whitewash.

Someone -- Jimmy Hoffa? James Bond? Maybe even David Petraeus! -- was spirited through the catacombs of Congess and into a secret room, there to be interrogated by some of the best and brightest members of that bastion of intellect and integrity, the U.S. House of Representatives. Those servants of the people had sworn to "get to the bottom" of a complicated mess involving fatal violence at an American consulate in Libya and femmes fatales in the extra-marital embrace of at least one, and possibly more, high ranking members of our military and spying establishment. The someone they sneaked into their hidey-hole was thought to have all the answers to all their questions.

OK, for the record, let's just stipulate that the someone was, indeed, retired Gen. David Petraeus, the walking medal chest, military hero of our great conquests in Iraq, Afghanistan and countless other places great and small around this troubled globe. Not only did he appear before a panel of great minds from the House, he also talked to a group of Senators.

Some are reporting that he "testified," although he was not repeat not under oath.  Some testimony.

What did he say?

That depends upon whether you're being briefed by a Republican or a Democrat.  Their characterizations of what he said differ greatly.  Either he did or he didn't support the administration's version of events around the consulate in Benghazi that fateful day when an ambassador was slain.

What seems clear is that the questioning wasn't prosecutorial or probing.  Both Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) and Sen. Diane Feinstein (D.-CA.) indicated that out of respect for the tender sensibilities of the general and his family, there were no questions about his sexual pecadillos, and the questions that were asked were not "tough." 

Questioners on both sides of both panels seemed to agree that the focus was on "clarifying" what Petraeus had told Congress about Benghazi back when he was still director of the CIA  -- what we knew and when we knew it.  What he says now and what he said then seem still to be interpreted strictly along party lines, leaving us, the people, still in the dark.

Even before the blue smoke began wafting through the bowels of the Capitol yesterday, there were whiffs of gray smoke suggesting a deeper CIA involvement in what happened there than anyone has so far disclosed. I suspect this aspect was never raised in yesterday's questioning.

King and the Republicans seem satisfied that Petraeus gave them answers yesterday, answers that substantiate their charges that "politics" marred the intelligence the administration used in addressing the American public about the episode. Since semen spots on black dresses seem to excite Republicans more readily than suggestions of black ops, they'll probably let things rest where they are.

Is there any hope at all that the public will ever know the truth?  Perhaps that depends upon what the definition of is is.

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