Friday, May 10, 2013

Benghazi and Intra-Party Politics

The current controversy over the attack on the Benghazi consulate and its aftermath looks, at first glance, like a straightforward case of inter-party politics, with Republicans using their control of the House of Representatives to produce and publicize evidence of the misdeeds of the Democrats controlling the White House. But it occurs to me that something else, perhaps more interesting, may develop.

The evidence so far suggests that the Administration, in particular the State Department, deliberately misrepresented the information available to them, blaming the attack on a spontaneous demonstration due to a UTube video, something which they could not be held responsible for or expected to have anticipated, when the evidence suggested that it was actually a pre-planned terrorist attack. And some of the testimony suggests that the objective was to mislead not only the public but Congress, something that members of Congress, Democrats as well as Republicans, might reasonably object to. Hence it would not be too surprising if at some point some Democrats in Congress announced that, much as it pained them to admit that their Republican colleagues were, in this case, correct in their suspicions, the demands of truth, justice, and their obligations to the American people forced them to rise above politics.

It might even be true. But ...  .

Politics exists within parties as well as between them. The part of the Administration most obviously responsible for both failing to protect the consulate and misrepresenting the nature of the attack was the State Department. The Secretary of State was Hilary Clinton. Barack Obama cannot run for President in the next election, but Hilary not only can run, she is currently the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination.

And there are surely other Democrats who would like to be President. It will be interesting to see, when and if Democratic unity on this particular controversy breaks—I have not followed the story carefully enough to know if it has yet started breaking—which Democrats break it, and what their alignment is within the Democratic party.


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

You gotta wonder if the false statements about the video, etc., run afoul of 18USC1001. The murder of a US diplomat would be a matter within the jurisdiction of the executive branch of the federal government. The Feds convicted Martha Stewart under this statute for allegedly lying to the FBI.

The law says:


(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully--
(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;
shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both. If the matter relates to an offense under chapter 109A, 109B, 110, or 117, or section 1591, then the term of imprisonment imposed under this section shall be not more than 8 years.

(b) Subsection (a) does not apply to a party to a judicial proceeding, or that party's counsel, for statements, representations, writings or documents submitted by such party or counsel to a judge or magistrate in that proceeding.

(c) With respect to any matter within the jurisdiction of the legislative branch, subsection (a) shall apply only to--
(1) administrative matters, including a claim for payment, a matter related to the procurement of property or services, personnel or employment practices, or support services, or a document required by law, rule, or regulation to be submitted to the Congress or any office or officer within the legislative branch; or
(2) any investigation or review, conducted pursuant to the authority of any committee, subcommittee, commission or office of the Congress, consistent with applicable rules of the House or Senate.

Fred Mangels said...

I'd suggest it's still partisan politics at play. If nothing else, were the situation reversed and the Democrats were in control of the House and Republicans the White House, I'm sure you'd see the Dems trying to attack the Republicans for the same thing.

As far as everybody trying to cover their ass after something like that happens, isn't that the way it's always done?

David Friedman said...


Of course it's partisan politics. My point is that it could become intra-party partisan politics as well as the obvious interparty partisan politics.

Anonymous said...

Hillary Clinton is not the Secretary of State

Laird said...

While it's certainly possible that some Democrats will break ranks and join in the Republican's attacks, their history strongly suggests that they will circle the wagons and protect their own regardless of the truth. And while there indeed are "other Democrats who would like to be President", the leading non-Hillary hopeful is Joe Biden, who occupies a perch in the White House and cannot conceivably break ranks. So who else has enough of a hope at the nomination to benefit from that? I can't think of anyone.

Jim Rose said...

David, The reasons for the Administration down playing the terrorist links are obvious: to protect intelligence sources.

Saying that you know who did it straight after would concede that the NSA and others are listening in to the phones and emails of the perpetrators and a lot of other bad guys as they boasted to each other straight after about the murders etc. that is a security breach.

For example, Truman in the McCarthy era kept quite about the Verona tapes showing extensive communist penetration of the U.S. government at high levels. The soviet spies were quietly fired or side-lined. These secrets stayed secret until the 1990s.

Everyone goes on about the embassy gossip revealed by wikileaks. That material was top secret. There are many classifications higher than top secret. Few admit that wikileaks was a low level security breach.

Carl Bernstein reveals more secrets in one chapter of any of his books than was revealed by wikileaks.

David Friedman said...


You are correct-I should have said "was."

CC said...

Is the creator on the YouTube video still in jail? He was for a while, and this seems like the most outrageous part of the story. (Sorry, I know this is only tangential to the point DF was making.)

windwheel said...

Democrats watch John Stewart- Benghazi is a Fox News generated chimera and as such something no Democrat can be seen to have truck with.
In any case, cosying up to Gaddaffi was Dubya-era silliness.
There's a lot else to get Hilary on in that part of the World.
True stuff, not Fox fabricated indignation.
Truth be told, the quite gratuitous damage the hyper-articulate but hopelessly amateurish Clintons have caused to American diplomacy- or indeed the safety of the Free World- is on an unprecedented, indeed unfathomable, scale, that too with no countervailing 'moral salience' accruing to the Republic.

Don said...

Fred: the fact that partisan politics are involved in no way negates the seriousness of what happened. It is a big deal, and if there were any justice, heads would roll.

Fast and Furious provoked partisan politics. Was that not worth our attention?

If Republicans were caught in some scandal while enforcing Eminent Domain property thefts, and Democrats made political hay out of it, wouldn't it still not be worth our time to root for Dems to kick their butts a little?

Fred Mangels said...

I'll have to agree with Colin Powell. To paraphrase: Shit happens.

And it's expected that after shit happens everyone involved is going to try and cover their ass.

Tom Crispin said...


Given the nature of the "happening", the correct verb is wipe, not cover.

Patrick R. Sullivan said...

'Truman in the McCarthy era kept quite about the Verona tapes showing extensive communist penetration of the U.S. government at high levels.'

Truman didn't even know about Venona, it was kept from him. It was J. Edgar Hoover who told Truman that FDR's administration (and then his) was thoroughly penetrated by the Soviets. Truman's response was to promote one of the highest level spies, Harry Dexter White to head the IMF. Hoover didn't need Venona either, he had other sources, including Whittaker Chambers and Elizabeth Bentley.

Unknown said...

Have any Democrats broken ranks over this?