The independent investigation of the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi did not hold back in its scathing criticisms of the State Department. The panel tasked with getting answers pointed to “systemic failures” and “management deficiencies,” which culminated in four American deaths.
But while the investigation concluded with a sharp rebuke of relevant officials and agencies, it did not bolster what the far-right has been arguing for months – that there was a cover-up, motivated by campaign politics. Dave Weigel had a good piece on this, noting that “Republican charges of a cover-up” were “pure fiction.”
So far, three State Department officials have fallen on their swords in response to this report. That was what investigators asked for, basically, blaming the circumstances in Benghazi on “senior State Department officials” who “demonstrated a lack of proactive leadership and management ability.” They failed to provide security before Sept. 11. On Tuesday, describing the video he’d been able to watch of the attack, Sen. Bob Corker told reporters that the compound was so wanly protected that “you or I could have walked right in.”
That doesn’t suggest a real-time campaign of cowardice. It doesn’t suggest a cover-up, either. It suggests that the neglected budget for embassy security needs a harder look in 2013. When that happens – or when it doesn’t happen – we’ll know what politicians learned from Benghazi.
A whole lot of Republican politicians, including figures the political establishment takes very seriously – I’m looking in your direction, John McCain – recklessly threw around all kinds of ridiculous charges, alleging elaborate schemes and borderline-criminal cover-ups.
We now know such irresponsible rhetoric was baseless, and the people who casually asserted vast conspiracies either (a) didn’t know what they were talking about; (b) made up scurrilous nonsense to score cheap points; or (c) both.
This is not to say security at the U.S. mission at Benghazi was handled responsibly; it’s quite obvious it was not. But the blame for that failure can be spread around – Congress’ budget cuts are certainly relevant – and this week’s findings nevertheless make months of Republican scandal-mongering look ridiculous.
When will there be consequences for those politicians who keep saying things that are proven false? Expect to hear more about this on tonight’s show.