After two years of investigation with Darrell Issa hellbent on finding something — Anything! — to make into a scandal, the House Intelligence Committee released its report on Benghazi yesterday. And their results: nothing. Everything was just the same as the administration had always claimed. No political maneuvering. And certainly no “stand down” orders costing Embassy personnel their lives. Nothing at all.
Ken Dilanian at Associated Press provided all of the details, House Intel Panel Debunks Many Benghazi Theories. The House report found pretty much what the previous six investigations found. And it found what the eighth investigation by the House Select Committee will find. And that is because there is no there there.
But none of this means that the investigation was useless. The point of the investigation was the same as pretty much everything that Darrell Issa has investigated. The point is to generate a bunch of smoke so that everyone will think there is a fire. This has been the plan all along and it has been extremely effective. It keeps Issa in the news and it reduces confidence in the government. What could be better for a Republican politician?
There is pretty much nothing that Issa can do that the mainstream media won’t pick up on. And their approach is about the same as his: write a bunch of stories questioning the government; then when it goes nowhere, just drop it. The harm has been done. Most Americans don’t know much about the “scandals” regarding Benghazi, the IRS, and the Fast and Furious program. But they have a vague idea that the government was up to no good. The Republican Party could have no greater propagandists than The New York Times and 60 Minutes.
All along, the linchpin of the Republican case was the most pathetic thing: Susan Rice’s “talking points” when she went on the Sunday news shows. The outrage about this from conservatives was palpable. And the more information that came out, the tinier their argument was. In the end, it really came down to the fact that Rice had said that the attack came out of a protest over an anti-Muslim film. This turned out to be wrong. But somehow, conservatives were outraged that the American people had been misled for a couple of days. This went along with conservative outrage that Obama said the attack was an “act of terror” rather than a “terrorist act.” This is a good indication of just how vacuous the conservative movement has become.
But now even Darrell Issa’s committee has to admit that Rice’s talking points were not part any nefarious plot:
In the years since, some participants in the attack have said they were motivated by the video. The attackers were a mix of extremists and hangers on, the investigation found.
“To this day,” the report said, “significant intelligence gaps regarding the identities, affiliations and motivations of the attackers remain.”
But what will Issa himself say? Well, the release of the report on a Friday afternoon before Thanksgiving should give you some idea. But I’m sure that Issa will now claim that this was always about the intelligence failures. But that isn’t true. The investigation was always political. Issa’s idea was that he could use Rice to show that the administration had manipulated the talking points to assure Obama’s re-election. (Note: Republicans still think the election was ever in any doubt.)
This morning over at Washington Month, Martin Longman wrote, What Fair & Balanced Would Look Like. He suggests that after the media spent two years pushing what was always a farcical scandal, they should spend the next two years falling over themselves to explain that there was no scandal. I like the idea. But it would never work. Regardless of getting the people to understand that there was no Benghazi scandal, the damage has been done. People have been given more (but fake) evidence that says that governments are incompetent and corrupt. No amount of counter-evidence on a single issue will reverse that.
Darrell Issa-1; Democracy-0.