Last Wednesday Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified before a Congressional Investigation Committee related to the September 2012 attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including the Libyan ambassador. She was grilled by the Republicans on the committee, most notably Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Rand Paul of Kentucky, for, in their eyes, being negligent and culpable for the attacks. Such an utterance is low and underscores the blatant disrespect the Republican Party has for this administration.
On Sep. 11, 2012, Islamic militants, who have allegedly been linked with al-qaeda, attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, killing the four Americans. The attacks occurred in the midst of a plethora of protests across the Middle East over an inflammatory anti-Muslim video spreading over YouTube. Thus, the administration, which had been caught off-guard by the attack, falsely initially reported that the attacks were a result of these demonstrations. Further analysis, however, proved this untrue. While President Obama did call the attack an “act of terror” the next day, Republicans are correct that his administration was scrambling for answers in the days following the attack.
However, this immediate response of the administration should not really matter. The fact is the United States was attacked by terrorists, like it has been dozens of times in the past. When the United States embassy in Beirut was bombed in 1983, resulting in the deaths of 14 Americans, Democratic leaders did not immediately start clamoring that President Reagan had maliciously caused the attack, or that Secretary of State George Schultz was somehow culpable. Indeed, when individual Democrats attempted to hold the administration personally liable for such attacks, they were roundly criticized by their party.
Historically, when the United States is attacked, the nation comes together, in an effort to heal the wounds and work with one another to find answers.
Divisive politics is usually put aside during such issues. The Republican Party has sunk to a new low by exploiting this tragedy for political gains, especially as they keep harping upon it. Instead of working together to see what had happened and trying to prevent other tragedies, the Republicans have been insistently trying to simply assign blame and point fingers.
Secretary Clinton, in her testimony, summed up her articulate position responding to Senator Johnson in saying, “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator.” Indeed, the Beirut embassy bombing under Reagan’s tenure, nor the bombing of the United States Embassy in Nairobi in 1998, in which 12 Americans and over 200 Kenyans were killed, did not even draw this stiff of a punitive congressional investigation.
A cursory Google search will reveal the true strategy of the Republicans: not to get to the bottom of this investigation, but to disparage and impeach a President they hate. In September, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a regular contributor on Fox News, even compared the Benghazi attacks to Watergate and insisted that President Obama should be removed from office.
Though it is true that inquiries and investigations must take place after terrorists attacks and other national tragedies, this is not what Congressional Republicans are doing. Rather than simply trying to get to the bottom of what happened, Republicans are simply looking for someone to assign blame. They want to hold President Obama and Secretary Clinton responsible for the attacks and play the blame game with national tragedies.
I was appalled by many fellow liberals who argued that President George W. Bush let 9/11 happen, or some variation thereof.
Exploiting tragedies, especially deadly ones, for political purposes is morally reprehensible. However, the difference was that Democrats who insinuated the Bush administration was negligent over 9/11 were unequivocally castigated by the leaders of their party. While the president and his or her administration surely have a responsibility to protect the nation’s citizens working abroad, failures on this account are not the result of negligence.
Instead of playing petty politics with this somber, sobering issue, the Republican Party should use it for a brief showing of bona fide bipartisanship, working together to not only find the culprits and bring them to justice, but to increase and strengthen embassy security, to make sure a tragedy like this will not be repeated any time soon. Senator Paul may believe that Secretary Clinton deserved to be terminated following the attacks, but she is no more responsible or liable for these attacks as former Secretary of State Colin Powell was for 9/11—that is, not at all.
Only by coming together and not assigning blame for tragedies can we move past them.