Our View: Focus Benghazi probe on security

May. 09, 2013 @ 01:07 AM

As a hearing spearheaded by Republicans on the Sept. 11, 2012, U.S. consulate attack in Benghazi kicked off in the U.S. House Wednesday, charges that it is politically motivated resounded among Democrats and supporters of the Obama administration.
The story goes that members of the GOP are pushing this new investigation in order to damage the Obama administration and to try to put former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a possible strong Democratic contender for the presidency in 2016, in a bad light.
“It’s politics,” Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., told The Associated Press. “If it’s a fair-minded question of what we could do better (on security), that would benefit us all. But if it’s intended to embarrass the president or perhaps Hillary Clinton then it would be damaging no matter who the next secretary of state is or who the next president is.”
Welch, a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that began the hearing on Wednesday, surely is correct in that politics plays a role in this committee action. But of course, politics plays a role in virtually everything that happens in Congress. So there’s nothing shocking in that statement.
But if this hearing can be conducted with political posturing being held to a minimum, the proceedings might generate information that provides additional insight into how response to the Benghazi attack was handled and how such a situation in the future could better be handled.
An independent investigation late last year determined that State Department leadership and management failures led to poor security at the U.S. mission in Benghazi. Some Republicans, however, don’t think that probe went far enough into assessing the role of President Obama and the White House in response to the attack and its aftermath.
It’s true that from Oversight committee testimony by people such as Gregory Hicks, the former deputy of mission in Libya, and Mark Thompson, acting deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism, this probe may produce insight into the White House’s response to the attack, some of which maybe has gone unreported.
But most important will be unearthing security-related information that could aid in improving security at home and abroad. Certainly, that’s the outcome hoped for among those of us who are less interested in the politics and more concerned about the safety of our diplomats.