Tahlequah Daily Press

Editorials

May 9, 2014

Benghazi-like bungling par for the course for any administration

TAHLEQUAH — It’s a shame politicians turn into a political football every American death even  peripherally related to a terrorist attack. The outrage at such deaths is always partisan rather than personal, and it always has an overarching tone of hypocrisy.

No one should minimize the death of a single human being. But neither should the lives of a select few be accorded more importance than those of anyone else, especially for political gain. And that’s what’s happening with the Benghazi affair.

The attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya occurred Sept. 11, 2012, as an exclamation point on the anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy in 2001. Four Americans died, and though it sounds callous to say so, they knew they were engaging in a potentially hazardous mission. Indeed, former diplomats we’ve interviewed told us they fully understood their jobs could cost them their lives.

These four victims had families who loved them. But so does every soldier who dies in a car bomb explosion in Afghanistan, or falls victim to a sniper’s bullet in Iraq.

Republicans may be right when they say the administration handled the aftermath of Benghazi with ineptitude, and someone in the upper echelons of the Beltway – the NSA director, or any one of a dozen other bureaucrats – may have lied. But aren’t deception, stupidity and arrogance always part and parcel of official behavior in the wake of any high-profile diplomatic incident?

The only reason Republicans in Congress are pursuing their relentless and costly investigation of Benghazi is to embarrass President Obama and gain political capital in the run-up to the off-year election. If they really gave a hoot about dead diplomats, why aren’t they pursuing the handling of similar atrocities of the past? There were about a dozen terrorist attacks just like this one while George W. Bush was in office, but the GOP issued nary a peep over any of them.

On Jan. 22, 2002, in Calcutta Indian, five were killed in an attack on the U.S. Consulate. Then on June 14, an al Qaeda suicide bomber took out 12 at the Consulate. Feb. 28, 2003, saw gunmen open fire in Islamabad, Pakistan, killing two. On May 12 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, al Qaeda terrorists murdered 36 during a raid on the diplomatic compound. The next pair of deaths came July 30, 2004, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, thanks to a suicide bomber at the U.S. Embassy. Nine died Dec. 6 at the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, again at the hands of al Qaeda. March 2, 2006, brought four more deaths – including that of high-profile diplomat David Foy – during a suicide bomber attack on the Consulate. Why don’t Republicans care about this man? They don’t seem to care about the Sept. 12, 2006, U.S. Embassy assault by four armed and screaming gunmen, who killed four and wounded 13.

No one died in the Jan. 17, 2007, rocket-propelled grenade launch into the U.S. Embassy in Athens, and only two were taken out March 18, 2008 in Yemen, when another al Qaeda-linked cell missed the Embassy but killed two at a school. Six forgotten lives were lost July 9, 2008 in Istanbul, Turkey, when armed terrorists attacked the U.S. Consulate. And finally, in the second attack on the Sana’a, Yemen, U.S. Embassy in seven months, terrorists killed 16, including a couple of American newlyweds.

Was someone guilty of deceit or criminal behavior for this string of attacks, or those that occurred on the watch of Ronald Reagan, or any other number of U.S. presidents? Probably. Will it happen under the watch of the next person in the White House? Possibly. Does the public see through this show for what it really is? We hope so.

Meantime, the Democrats need to quit dragging their feet and be part of the investigation. If not, Republicans will score a field goal, if not a touchdown, with this particular football.

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