Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What Really Happened at Benghazi?

Even when the Reublicans get it right they get it wrong.

U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was unfit to become Secretary of State, but not because of Benghazi, as is clear in the newly released report by an independent panel investigating the terrorist attack that killed four Americans, including the ambassador, in Libya.

The report won't stop crackpots like Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, a science-denying creationist, from continuing to blather the party line.

In fact, Rice's disqualification for the office was her huge stockholdings in Canadian corporations that stand to profit greatly if the Keystone XL pipeline is built.  The Secretary of State has the power of final determination of the fate of the pipeline.

That, of course, doesn't bother the Republicans, for whom conflict of interest is a way of life.  With hands always open for corporate cash, eagerly embracing legislation crafted by corporate lobbyists, kissing the boots of the biggest bankers, the GOP is oblivious to that silly thing called ethics.

The investigators' report on Benghazi came down hard on senior State Department officials.  "Systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department resulted in a Special Mission security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place," the panel said.

However, the board ruled that no individual officials ignored or violated their duties and recommended no disciplinary action. It recommended that poor performance by senior managers should be grounds for disciplinary actions in the future.

Buried in most media accounts of the panel's report was the fact that Congress' own parsimony was a major factor in the security lapses in Benghazi. The panel found that budget constraints in the past had led some management officials to emphasize savings over security, including rejecting numerous requests from the Benghazi mission and the embassy in Tripoli for enhanced protection.

House and Senate negotiators on a pending defense bill on Tuesday agreed to fund another 1,000 Marines at embassy security worldwide, locking the barn door after the horse has been stolen.

What the report does not disclose is the source of the so-called "talking points" that Rice and others in the administration used when addressing the media in the immediate aftermath of he Benghazi killings.  Those points said the violence at the consulate began with protests over an anti-Muslim movie made in the U.S. The investigators determined that this was not true, that the attack was a terrorist plot from the outset.

Did the falsehood originate with the CIA? With its director, David Petraeus?  Two of the four slain Americans were independent CIA contractors.  A mysterious CIA compound -- a black hole for torture? -- stands near the consulate where the men were slain.

What was the CIA's role in all of this?

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