“Ronald Reagan’s Benghazi”
I went back and read this New Yorker piece by Jane Mayer from May of 2014. She contrasts Issa’a “fact finding” regarding Benghazi with the congressional response to terrorism in Beirut in the 1980’s. Although I had already recognized that the treatment Hillary endured in the wake of Benghazi was a partisan witch hunt, reading more details about how Beirut was handled made the current hearings chaired by Gowdy all the more appalling. It’s worth a read especially if you were too young in the 80’s to remember what happened——-or if you did not follow politics back then.
Here are some tidbits that hit the highlights. (I boldfaced some passages for people who want to skim.)
Around dawn on October 23, 1983, I was in Beirut, Lebanon, when a suicide bomber drove a truck laden with the equivalent of twenty-one thousand pounds of TNT into the heart of a U.S. Marine compound, killing two hundred and forty-one servicemen. The U.S. military command, which regarded the Marines’ presence as a non-combative, “peace-keeping mission,” had left a vehicle gate wide open, and ordered the sentries to keep their weapons unloaded….Six months earlier, militants had bombed the U.S. embassy in Beirut, too, killing sixty-three more people, including seventeen Americans. Among the dead were seven C.I.A. officers, including the agency’s top analyst in the Middle East, an immensely valuable intelligence asset, and the Beirut station chief…………….There were more than enough opportunities to lay blame for the horrific losses at high U.S. officials’ feet. But unlike today’s Congress, congressmen did not talk of impeaching Ronald Reagan, who was then President, nor were any subpoenas sent to cabinet members. This was true even though then, as now, the opposition party controlled the majority in the House.….. Congress actually undertook a useful investigation and made helpful recommendations. The report’s findings, by the way, were bipartisan. (The Pentagon, too, launched an investigation, issuing a report that was widely accepted by both parties.)………In March of 1984, three months after Congress issued its report, militants struck American officials in Beirut again, this time kidnapping the C.I.A.’s station chief, Bill Buckley. Buckley was tortured and, eventually, murdered……...If you compare the costs of the Reagan Administration’s serial security lapses in Beirut to the costs of Benghazi, it’s clear what has really deteriorated in the intervening three decades. It’s not the security of American government personnel working abroad. It’s the behavior of American congressmen at home.
Sure, Issa is no longer in charge of the Benghazi hearings but this piece retains its relevance since the hearings have continued in their same partisan and political vein. I hope people will encourage others to read it. Too many shrug off these political antics and say politicians will just be politicians. This article makes it clear that what is going on now is an outrage, not just politics as usual. Things were NOT always like this, but they will get worse until we are disgusted enough to do something about it.