The Washington Post reported this week that WJLA, ABC’s Washington, D.C., affiliate, has taken a “subtle but noticeable turn to the right” since being taken over by the Sinclair Broadcasting Group. This conservative tilt was on full display this week when the channel ran a news package promoting a baseless conspiracy theory about Benghazi from reporter Sharyl Attkisson.
The Washington Post piece highlighted the concerns of some staff members of local ABC affiliate WJLA, that following the finalization of the sale to Sinclair in August 2014, “some of the stories ordered by Sinclair on a ‘must-run’ basis don’t meet the station’s long tradition of non-partisan reporting.” One factor in this shift to conservative partisan reporting was announced in July prior to the sale, when Sinclair hired discredited journalist Sharyl Attkisson as an “independent freelance reporter” to “focus on stories that follow the money and waste watch type of investigations.”
However, prior to the September 17 opening hearing of the House Benghazi Special Committee, Attkisson ran a dubious report for Sinclair that appeared on WJLA highlighting the unverifiable claims of former State Department employee Raymond Maxwell alleging that some documents were intentionally withheld from the Accountability Review Board investigating the terrorist attacks in Benghazi:
The same day Attkisson’s report ran on WJLA, Attkisson appeared on Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends where she reiterated the report’s unsubstantiated accusations. Host Steve Doocy lamented that only a handful of outlets such as Fox and the Daily Signal — the Heritage Foundation website to which Attkisson occasionally contributes — were covering this latest so-called “Benghazi bombshell.” Attkisson concluded the segment by mentioning that her report was also broadcast to “maybe 30 million local news viewers” through Sinclair’s affiliate stations
Although Sinclair’s support of right-wing misinformation has been widely documented and criticized for many years, its increasing influence in local media bodes ill for objective journalism at stations like WJLA.
"Scrubbed" Benghazi Docs "Bombshell" Is Based On Evidence-Free Report By Discredited Benghazi Hoax Architect
A new report from discredited investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson baselessly suggested State Department staff removed damaging documents on Benghazi instead of turning them over to the Accountability Review Board (ARB) for investigation. But Attkisson’s claims have been denied by the State Department and are based solely on speculations from a disgruntled employee after he was disciplined for his “lack of leadership” and engagement by the ARB.
In a September 15 report for The Daily Signal, a publication of the conservative Heritage Foundation, Attkisson reported that a former State Department diplomat alleges that “Hillary Clinton confidants were part of an operation to ’separate’ damaging documents before they were turned over to the Accountability Review Board investigating security lapses surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.” The Daily Signal described this as a “Benghazi Bombshell.”
Attkisson reported that the diplomat, Raymond Maxwell, a former deputy assistant secretary responsible for North Africa, says that in late 2012 he observed an “after-hours session” at which a State Department office director “close to Clinton’s top advisers” directed staff to separate out Benghazi documents “that might put anybody in the Near Eastern Affairs front office or the seventh floor in a bad light” from “boxes and stacks of documents.” Attkisson notes that “‘seventh floor’ was State Department shorthand for then-Secretary of State Clinton and her principal advisors.” Maxwell told Attkisson that while he was present, Clinton Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills and Deputy Chief of Staff Jake Sullivan “appeared to check in on the operation and soon left.”
Speculating that potentially missing, possibly damaging documents made it impossible for the ARB’s investigation to be thorough, Attkisson reported that Maxwell said ”he couldn’t help but wonder if the ARB—perhaps unknowingly—had received from his bureau a scrubbed set of documents with the most damaging material missing.”
Fox News’ America’s Newsroom quickly reported Attkisson’s claims, calling them a “bombshell development” and a “smoking gun of a potential cover-up”:
Fox subsequently reported that the interview indicated that Maxwell “claims Clinton allies scrubbed Benghazi documents.”
But Attkisson’s report has several flaws. It is based solely on conjecture from Maxwell, who does not claim and cannot prove that any documents were withheld from the ARB in its investigation, but rather only speculates about the fate of the documents that were reviewed.
The State Department has already denied Maxwell’s speculation in a statement to Attkisson — State Department spokesman Alec Gerlach called “the implication that documents were withheld ‘totally without merit,’” emphasizing that the “range of sources that the ARB’s investigation drew on would have made it impossible for anyone outside of the ARB to control its access to information.” Other allegations that the ARB investigation was biased have been repeatedly disproven.
Maxwell himself is a dubious source. He was placed on administrative leave after the Accountability Review Board’s investigation found a “lack of proactive leadership” and pointed specifically to Maxwell’s department, saying some officials in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs “showed a lack of ownership of Benghazi’s security issues.” A House Oversight Committee report released findings from the classified version of the ARB report, which revealed that the ARB’s board members “were troubled by the NEA DAS for Maghreb Affairs’ lack of leadership and engagement on staffing and security issues in Benghazi.”
Disgruntled over being “the only official in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA), which had responsibility for Libya, to lose his job,” Maxwell spoke to The Daily Beast in May 2013 in an attempt to “restore” his “honor.” Maxwell, who had filed official grievances regarding his treatment, expressed anger that Mills — the same staff member Maxwell speculated was involved in hiding potentially damaging documents — “reneged” on a deal to eventually bring Maxwell back to the NEA after his leave.
While Maxwell has previously been interviewed by the ARB, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the House Oversight Committee, the Daily Beast, and Examiner.com, this is curiously the first time this allegation has been made public. FoxNews.com reported that Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) had confirmed “that Maxwell told him and other lawmakers the same story when they privately interviewed him last year.” The claim is absent from the House Oversight Committee’s Benghazi Attacks: Investigative Update Report on the Accountability Review Board, which was based in part on Maxwell’s 2013 testimony.
Attkisson, too, has been roundly discredited and is well known for her shoddy reporting, both during her time at CBS News and after leaving the network. Attkisson supported CBS’ disastrous Benghazi reporting, for which the network ultimately had to apologize and retract. And CBS executives reportedly saw her as “wading dangerously close to advocacy on the issue.”
Fox’s adoption of this story as a major new development is not surprising given the network’s history of relying on discredited Benghazi hoaxsters and using “bombshell" to describe everything but new developments in the story.
Fox News host Elisabeth Hasselbeck connected an ongoing National Football League controversy surrounding domestic violence to the September 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
The Fox & Friends host tweeted September 16, “Imagine if everyone that asked for transparency in the #nfl @nfl Demanded that same #transparency in our #government,” adding the hashtags “#Benghazi” and “#IRS,” references to the terrorist attack and the alleged targeting by the IRS of tax exempt organizations.
Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice was indefinitely suspended by the NFL after a video of him punching his now-wife and knocking her unconscious leaked, and the organization came under fire for not previously suspending Rice when he initially admitted to the assault. Fifteen female senators have asked NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to “institute a zero-tolerance policy for domestic violence,” and questioned whether the commissioner or other league officials may have attempted to “cover-up" evidence of the abuse.
Fox News has repeatedly attempted to claim the Obama administration engaged in a “cover up” of the Benghazi attacks, with the evening lineup alleging a "cover up" in 281 segmentsin the first 20 months following the attacks. Network personalities have previous invoked Benghazi in relation to meteorologists meeting with President Obama, the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370, Gov. Chris Christie’s bridge scandal, Yom Kippur, and Monday Night Football.
With the House Select Committee on Benghazi scheduled to convene for its first public hearing tomorrow, Media Matters is unveiling All Questions Answered, the definitive user’s guide to the committee that demonstrates how conservative inquiries into the 2012 attacks have been litigated over and over again.
You can read All Questions Answered at BenghaziHoax.com, a new Media Matters website featuring our latest research and curating nearly 1,000 pieces we have produced over the past two years chronicling and debunking the lies right-wing media have pushed about Benghazi.
Fox News and the conservative media have been politicizing Benghazi for more than two years, seeking to turn the tragic events of that night into a phony scandal in order to damage President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The network took credit for House Speaker John Boehner’s decision to create the select committee, a development Fox News contributors had sought for months. In the two weeks after the announcement the network devoted over 16 hours and 27 minutes — at least 227 segments — to Benghazi, a value of more than $124 million.
An excerpt from All Questions Answered details how the right-wing press turned an innocuous email from Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes into a sham “smoking gun,” leading to the creation of the committee:
Conservative media outlets were up in arms, and they were soon followed by mainstream reporters. According to this new right-wing narrative, the White House had been withholding these emails from the public and congressional committees. But what did these emails actually demonstrate?
Rhodes’ job on the National Security Council was to provide communications guidance to administration officials speaking on foreign policy issues. In the wake of upheaval across the entire region, with violent protests taking place in Cairo and the attack on the United States’ diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, Rhodes was tasked with preparing messaging guidance for then-national security adviser Susan Rice. In the emails unveiled by Judicial Watch, Rhodes took CIA-authored talking points — whose creation had been made public in detail a year earlier — and turned them into a messaging document.
That no new information was revealed mattered little. Simply the perception that the Obama administration was hiding something from the public created a media firestorm.
All Questions Answered goes down the list of conservative questions about Benghazi one by one, debunking the lies and myths about the attacks and the Obama administration’s response.
All Questions Answered is a supplement to Media Matters' best-selling 2013 ebook The Benghazi Hoax, which “tells in intimate detail the story of the deception created by those who fill airtime with savage punditry and pseudo-journalism and how the Republicans in charge of the investigative committees were empowered but ultimately failed to find a scandal - any kind of scandal - to tar a Democratic White House.”
h/t: Matt Gertz at MMFA
A new book from five commandos who were guarding the CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya on the night of Sep. 11, 2012 claims that a U.S. official gave a stand down order that prevented forces from rescuing U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens, who along with three other Americans, died in the attack.
But rather than buttressing long-standing Republican claims that the Obama administration bungled the operation (and later sought to cover it up for political purposes), the revelation highlights how far GOP efforts to tie the president and his closest advisers to the terrorist attack in Benghazi have fallen.
In the book, titled “13 Hours,” five commandos who were guarding the CIA Annex in Benghazi, claim that “they protested repeatedly as the station chief ordered them to wait in their vehicles, fully armed, for 20 minutes while the attack on the diplomatic mission was unfolding less than a mile away,” the New York Times, which received an advance copy of the book, reports. The commandos say “they left the base in defiance of the chief’s continuing order to ‘stand down.’”
The story undermines the conclusions of various government reports — from both the administration and Congress, which found that no such stand down order was given — and even if true, lacks the explosive punch Republicans have promised. The contractors say that the CIA station chief on his own authority and was not operating under orders from anyone in Washington D.C. “He hoped to enlist local Libyan militiamen, and the commandos speculate that he hoped the Libyans could carry out the rescue alone to avoid exposing the C.I.A. base,” the paper claims.
In the days and years following the 2012 attack, however, Republicans and conservative commentators had promised more. They claimed to have uncovered evidence attributing the “stand down” order to President Obama or a rotating cast of advisers:
BILL KRISTOL: “It would have been a presidential decision.” [10/26/2012]
REP. DARREL ISSA: “I have my suspicions, which is Secretary Clinton told Leon [Panetta] to stand down.” [2/17/2014]
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ: “[M]ilitary personnel were ready willing and able, and within proximity, but the Pentagon told them they had no authority and to stand down.” [5/7/2013]
RUSH LIMBAUGH: “Doug Ross maintains here that Valerie Jarrett gave the orders to stand down in Benghazi. Valerie Jarrett, who constitutionally is not in the chain of command and cannot do that. And that’s why this, if true, is a bombshell.” [8/6/2013]
Earlier this year, the House Armed Services Committee concluded that U.S. military would have been unable to respond in time to the attacks and a declassified version of the House Intelligence Committee analysis found “no deliberate wrongdoing by the Obama administration.” Both committees are currently Republican-led.
As Joint Chiefs chairman, Gen. Martin Dempsey explained to the Senate in February of 2013, “This is the middle of the night now, these are not aircraft on strip alert.” Then-secretary of Defense Leon Panetta testified that “unfortunately, there was no specific intelligence or indications of an imminent attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi. And frankly, without an adequate warning, there was not enough time given the speed of the attack for armed military assets to respond.”
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a member of both the House Intelligence Committee and the Benghazi panel, dismissed the new allegations. Members of both the House and Senate “found that our personnel acted heroically and appropriately in trying to secure local assistance and avoid ambush,” Schiff said in a statement. “Nor did we find any evidence that a different course of action would have saved – rather than jeopardized – more lives. To second guess these decisions made in the fog of battle is both unfair to the brave personnel involved and highly irresponsible.”
But that’s not stopping Fox News and other conservative outlets from using the latest revelations to prop up the “stand down” conspiracy. The network is describing the stories in the new book “as a dramatic new turn to what the Obama administration and its allies would like to dismiss as an ‘old story.’” It will host a special featuring interviews with the security contractors interviewed for the book and promises to deliver a “first-hand account of what really happened in Benghazi.” But that truth keeps changing in ways that have Republicans second-guessing the strategy that many thought would lead them to a political victory over the White House.
The House Intelligence Committee just concluded a nearly two-year investigation on the September 11, 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, and finds no wrongdoing by the Obama Administration — destroying all claims by Tea Party and conservative activists.
In a stunning rebuke to its base, the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence voted to declassify on Thursday the results of its nearly two-year, $3.3 million taxpayer-paid investigation on the September 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, finding no intentional wrongdoing by President Barack Obama, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, or by the Obama administration.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson, a Democrat, “said the report ‘confirms that no one was deliberately misled, no military assets were withheld and no stand-down order (to U.S. forces) was given.’”
Among the Intelligence Committee’s findings, according to Thompson:
— Intelligence agencies were “warned about an increased threat environment, but did not have specific tactical warning of an attack before it happened.”
— “A mixed group of individuals, including those associated with al Qaeda, (Moammar) Khadafy loyalists and other Libyan militias, participated in the attack.”
— “There was no ‘stand-down order’ given to American personnel attempting to offer assistance that evening, no illegal activity or illegal arms transfers occurring by U.S. personnel in Benghazi, and no American was left behind.”
— The administration’s process for developing “talking points” was “flawed, but the talking points reflected the conflicting intelligence assessments in the days immediately following the crisis.”
Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans died during the attacks.
The Tea Party, Republicans, and conservatives have spent nearly two years claiming the Obama administration committed treason, were at the center of a massive cover-up, and have propagated many other falsehoods and conspiracy theories that have been officially rebuked by this report and several other official government investigations, most led, ironically, by Republicans.
Meanwhile, Republicans will start yet another series of hearings, led by GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy, trying g once again to prove that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were somehow to blame for the deaths of four Americans.
For a look at Tea Party memes of Benghazi, including Obama hang nooses, see our compilation on Storify.
Oh look, the right-wing media found a way to make the Malaysian airliner crash about Benghazi.
"He should be impeached for so many things," state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R) said at the forum.
"You begin to see the markings of a totalitarian state," he added about the pattern created by the administration’s IRS and NSA scandals.
State Sen. Joe Leibham (R) said that if Obama lied about how much he knew about the IRS scandal, that would be “grounds for impeachment.”
"His presidency is a scandal," Leibham said. "He has destroyed America from the great capitalistic country it used to be."
State Rep. Duey Stroebel (R) said the administration’s response to the Benghazi attack topped his list of scandals.
"President Obama is doing his best to tear the country down," Stroebel added later.
Tom Denow, the fourth candidate who has never held elected office, agreed with the other candidates that a special prosecutor should investigate the IRS scandal, according to the Journal Sentinel.
Whichever candidate wins the conservative district’s August primary will face Democratic Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris in the general election. On Friday, he dismissed the four GOP candidates’ talk of impeachment.
"I suspect that’s just throwing something to the most extreme elements of their party," he told the Journal Sentinel.
[H/t Andrew Kaczynski]
(AP) Military officers testified that there was no “stand-down order” that held back military assets that could have saved the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans killed at a diplomatic outpost and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya. Their testimony undercut the contention of Republican lawmakers. …
The right’s BENGHAZI!!! narrative collapses once again.
Police were looking for a vandal who spray-painted “Benghazi” on a sign promoting the book tour outside the Chappaqua Public Library, News 12 Westchester reported. Local residents, and one ten-year-old Clinton fan in particular, told News 12 that defacing the sign was unacceptable behavior for a member of their community.
Police hadn’t made any arrests as of Monday afternoon, according to the Journal News.
Earlier this week, a media firestorm erupted around a Heritage Foundation panel about the 2012 Benghazi attack, which featured a number of anti-Muslim activists including ACT! for America’s Brigitte Gabriel and Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy.
Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank attended the event, and wrote about an ugly exchange in which a Muslim woman in the audience asked a question about Muslim representation at the event, and was met with a tirade from Gabriel, who told her that the “peaceful majority” of Muslims was “irrelevant,” made a comparison to Nazi Germany, and demanded to know if the woman was an American.
Milbank’s column, in turn, caused outrage from the conservative media and from Politico, who claimed that he misrepresented the event, although, as Milbank later pointed out, his critics were not actually there to see Gabriel’s diatribe and the enthusiastic response of the Heritage crowd.
Now, Gabriel is responding to criticism of her remarks in trademark fashion, by attempting to smear the woman who asked her the question.
In a fundraising email yesterday, Gabriel claimed that she had found “additional information” about the woman that “begins to bring into more focus the possible real reason for her ‘question’ at Monday’s event.” Gabriel breathlessly reports that the woman, Saba Ahmed, has been active in politics before (not a huge surprise for someone attending a panel event in Washington). She then tries to link Ahmed to an attempted terror plot in Portland (Ahmed was a family friend of the suspect, and has not in any way been implicated in it). And to top it all off, Gabriel reports that Ahmed was once arrested for something completely unrelated.
This line of attack should not come as a huge surprise from someone who has used similarly tenuous connections to claim that former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin was a Muslim Brotherhood agent, an accusation that Gaffney repeated at the panel.
Gabriel concludes her email by repeating her remark from the panel that “it is time we take political correctness and throw it in the garbage” and asking for money from her supporters.
Although the only focus of Monday’s Heritage event was getting to the bottom of the Benghazi attack and holding those responsible accountable for their actions (or lack of action), my panel was asked a rather unusual question by a woman in the audience, Saba ‘Queen’ Ahmed – a woman portraying herself as a young Muslim student concerned about the discrimination of Muslims.
Ms. Ahmed has been described by many in the media as a “young Muslim law student.” However as is so often the case, there is just a little more to the story.
The additional information we found about Ms. Ahmed begins to bring into more focus the possible real reason for her “question” at Monday’s event – and a possible explanation about why she attended the discussion and left immediately after her question and our exchange:
- She is CEO/President of Saba Ahmed, LLC a Washington, DC, lobbying firm.
- She is the friend of the family of Mohamed Osman Mohamud, the Somali-American accused of attempting to bomb a Portland Christmas tree lighting ceremony in 2010. (In fact, here is a photo of her leaving his court proceedings!)
- She is a former candidate for U.S. Congress. (Right: Image from her campaign website)
- She has been active in Democratic politics as well as with the radical “Occupy” movement.
- She was an assistant of former Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski and also for U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).
- She was arrested for a “stalking incident” in Florida.
I am glad that I had the opportunity to address Ms. Ahmed’s comments directly and respectfully – even though they had nothing to do with the issue of the event. It was an important educational moment.
I stand by how I closed my remarks on Monday:
It is time we take political correctness and throw it in the garbage where it belongs, and start calling a spade a spade.
I have received letters and e-mails from all over the country in support of my response to Ms. Ahmed. I am humbled by, and appreciative of, this support and encouragement. And I want you to know that I intend to continue standing up to individuals like this who seek only to misrepresent the truth and who use the liberal media to spread falsehoods about the Islamist threat that surrounds us.
h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW
Host Sean Hannity recreated a bank-and-forth that took place at the Benghazi Accountability Coalition panel at the Heritage Foundation between the student, Saba Ahmed, and panelist Brigitte Gabriel, president of ACT! for America. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank had described Gabriel and her fellow panelists’ reaction to Ahmed as ”ugly taunting,” a characterization that some disputed based on a video clip from the event.
Hannity kicked off the discussion by asking Ahmed why she chose to focus her question on the treatment of Muslims in America.
"The forum was talking about Islamic jihadists. So I asked a question about Islam," Ahmed said. "So I didn’t see how that was irrelevant. It was directly related to what the panel was about."
Gabriel then accused Ahmed of derailing the direction of the Benghazi panel discussion.
"The whole symposium was about Benghazi," Gabriel said. "And she took the limelight instead of standing up as an American, caring about how four Americans are dead, asking something about what we can do to hold our government accountable."
"The whole panel was about accountability," she added. "Yet she took the limelight asking a question that was completely not discussed, out of the blue. She might as well be asking, ‘why are we wearing green today?’"
Hannity continued to press Ahmed on Sharia law, urging her to say that it was wrong to force women to wear head scarves, to require four male eyewitnesses to prove rape and to allow stoning of women and homosexuals.
"This is happening in the name of your religion, this is my point," Hannity said. "I have every belief that you’re probably very moderate in your own personal views, but this is happening in the name of your religion. If it were Catholic and it was happening in the name of my religion, like the sex scandal, I spoke out. I said it was intolerable. Will you speak out?"
"Well, I am speaking out. I’m against some of the barbaric practices around the world. I think Islam has been misused by a lot people —" Ahmed said before Hannity cut her off.
The 40 page document, which was released to the public on Wednesday, provides a healthy serving of red meat to nearly every segment of American conservatives. Even anti-pornography activists can find something to love in this platform.
Immigrants, gay people, children, minority voters, the environment, elderly Americans and, of course, President Obama, are the big losers in the Texas Republican Party’s2014 platform. Meanwhile, rich taxpayers, conspiracy theorists and Wall Street make out like gangbusters. The 40 page document, which was released to the public on Wednesday, provides a healthy serving of red meat to nearly every segment of American conservatives. Even anti-pornography activists can find something to love in this platform
We read through the entire platform so that your wouldn’t have to. Here are some of the most bizarre ideas we discovered:
1) Pornography Should Be Treated Just Like Cocaine
Texas Republicans “encourage state and federal governments to severely prosecute illegal dealers and manufacturers of addictive substances, including pornography.” They also support “the enforcement of laws regarding all forms of pornography, because pornography is detrimental to society.”
2) Social Security Should Be Phased Out
The Texas GOP platform calls for “an immediate and orderly transition” away from Social Security and towards “a system of private pensions based on the concept of individual retirement accounts.” It also supports “gradually phasing out the Social Security tax,” a proposal which will starve the program for funding. According to a 2012 study, Social Security keeps over 20 million Americans from falling into poverty.
3) Texas Should Veto Federal Laws
“Nullification” is an unconstitutional doctrine which claims that states may invalidate federal laws within their own borders. It’s also explicitly repudiated by the Constitution, which provides that duly enacted federal laws “shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.” Nevertheless, the Texas GOP platform calls for the state legislature to “ignore, oppose, refuse, and nullify any federal mandated legislation which infringes upon the states’ 10th Amendment Right.” Although the platform is vague regarding how Texas Republicans interpret the Tenth Amendment, the top Republican in Texas, Gov. Rick Perry, has argued that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid all violate this amendment.
As a bonus, the platform also claims that the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies should have to get a Texas sheriff’s permission before they can investigate federal crimes.
4) Americans Should Not Be Allowed To Choose Their Own Senators
The Seventeenth Amendment abolished an older practice that empowered state lawmakers to choose their state’s senators, in no small part because the old system “led to rampant and blatant corruption, letting corporations and other moneyed interests effectively buy U.S. Senators, and tied state legislatures up in numerous, lengthy deadlocks over whom to send to Washington.” The Texas GOP platform, however, wants to return to the day when the American people could not vote on their own senators. “Full Repeal of the 17th Amendment of the United States Constitution” is one of the platform’s demands.
5) The Problem With America’s Schools Is That They Have Too Much Money
According to the Texas GOP, “[s]ince data is clear that additional money does not translate into educational achievement, and higher education costs are out of control, we support reducing taxpayer funding to all levels of education institutions.”
6) All Federal Agencies Should Be Rendered Impotent
Texas Republicans “decry the appointment of unelected bureaucrats, and we urge Congress to use their constitutional authority to defund and abolish these positions and return authority to duly elected officials” — a sweeping statement that appears to rule out allowing anyone from being paid to implement federal laws. It is not clear whether United States Senators would qualify as “unelected bureaucrats,” if the Texas GOP’s proposal to abolish the Seventeenth Amendment became law.
As an interim measure, before all “unelected bureaucrats” are fired, the platform says that “[e]xecutive decisions by agencies must be reviewed and approved by Congress before taking effect” — a provision that would make it virtually impossible for any executive agency to do anything at all, given the paralytic state of our Congress. The platform also calls for “Elimination of Executive Orders,” and it names once agency in particular as particularly disfavored — “We believe the Environmental Protection Agency should be abolished.”
7) Climate Change Is A Myth
Texas Republicans don’t just want to eliminate the Environmental Protect Agency, they deny the overwhelming scientific consensus indicating that man-made climate change is a real and serious problem. Climate change, according to the Texas GOP, “is a political agenda which attempts to control every aspect of our lives.”
8) Congress Must Act Now To Prevent America From Becoming A Muslim Caliphate
The platform urges “the Texas Legislature and the United States Congress to enact legislation prohibiting any judicial jurisdiction from allowing any substitute or parallel system of law, specifically foreign law (including Sharia Law), which is not in accordance with the United States or Texas Constitutions.” Bans on Sharia law are a common proposal raised by Islamophobic state lawmakers. Yet, in an opinion blocking Oklahoma’s Sharia ban, a federal appeals court explained that the law’s defenders “did not know of even a single instance where an Oklahoma court had applied Sharia law or used the legal precepts of other nations or cultures, let alone that such applications or uses had resulted in concrete problems in Oklahoma.”
9) God Hates Gay People, And Their Bosses Should Be Allowed To Fire Them For Being Gay
“Homosexuality is a chosen behavior that is contrary to the fundamental unchanging truths that have been ordained by God in the Bible,” according to Texas Republicans. Moreover, the platform denounces the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit anti-gay employment discrimination, explaining that “government regulations which would coerce business owners and employees to violate their own consciences, beliefs, and principles.”
10) Gayness Can Be Cured
The Texas GOP “recognize[s] the legitimacy and efficacy of counseling, which offers reparative therapy and treatment for those patients seeking healing and wholeness from their homosexual lifestyle.” In reality, people who have undergone such “theapy” describe it as a source of “shame, emotional harm, self-hate, suicidal ideation, and nervous breakdowns.”
11) The Voting Rights Act Should Be Repealed
The Supreme Court recently gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, which prevents voters from being denied the right to vote because of their race. Nevertheless, the act’s provision allowing lawsuits challenging state laws that deny or abridge “the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color” remains in effect. Texas Republicans want to change that — “We urge that the Voter Rights Act of 1965, codified and updated in 1973, be repealed and not reauthorized.”
Additionally, the platform calls for a wide range of laws that will make it harder to cast a vote: “We support repeal of all motor voter laws; re-registering voters every four years; requiring photo ID of all registrants; proof of residency and citizenship, along with voter registration application; retention of the 30-day registration deadline; and requiring that a list of certified deaths be provided to the Secretary of State in order that the names of deceased voters be removed from the list of registered voters.”
12) America Needs More Income Inequality
The platform calls for a broad range of tax reforms that would overwhelmingly benefit the wealthiest Americans, including a “flat tax,” “[a]bolishment of estate taxes,” “[a]bolishment of capital gains taxes” and “[a]bolishment of the gift tax.” Meanwhile, here’s how wealthy people are currently faring even without the Texas GOP’s tax reforms:
13) Children Of Non-Citizens Should Be Stripped Of Their Citizenship
Texas Republicans call “on the Texas Legislature to pass a constitutional amendment that defines citizenship as those born to a citizen of the United States or through naturalization.” Texas lawmakers do not, however, have the authority to unilaterally amend the United States Constitution, which provides that “[a]ll persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” The words “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” in this context, only excludes a small group of children, such as the children of foreign diplomats who enjoy diplomatic immunity to U.S. law.
14) The Supreme Court Should Not Be Allowed To Enforce The Bill of Rights
The platform urges “Congress to withhold Supreme Court jurisdiction in cases involving abortion, religious freedom, and the Bill of Rights.” The constitutionality of this proposal is doubtful, but it is also unclear whether the Texas GOP has fully thought out whether it makes sense to reduce the power of the conservative Roberts Court. In recent years, the Supreme Court has not simply expanded gun rights under the Second Amendment, it also appears likely to give business owners new authority to ignore federal laws they object to on religious grounds.
15) America Needs To Quit The United Nations
The Texas GOP supports “the withdrawal of the United States from the United Nations and the removal of United Nations headquarters from United States soil.” Additionally, it appears to embrace a conspiracy theory previously touted by one of Texas’ most famous Republicans. The platform “oppose[s] implementation of the United Nations Agenda 21 treaty policies and its supporting organizations, agreements, and contracts which were adopted at the Earth Summit Conference in 1992.” In reality, Agenda 21 is a more than two decades-old non-binding resolution which primarily speaks at a high level of generality about reducing poverty and building sustainable living environments. During his campaign for the United States Senate, however, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) claimed that it “attempts to abolish ‘unsustainable’ environments, including golf courses, grazing pastures, and paved roads,” and that the originator of this War on Golf is liberal billionaire George Soros.
Finally, the platform embraces the widespread belief among Republican legislators and views of Fox News that the deaths of several Americans in Benghazi, Libya was not just a tragedy, but that it is also part of some grand criminal conspiracy by the Obama Administration. Texas Republicans want a special prosecutor to try to uncover what countless congressional hearings have yet to find — evidence of criminal action on the part of administration officials. It also calls for “bringing those responsible to justice, including jail time.”
Source: Ian Millhiser for ThinkProgress
The Benghazi Accountability Coalition is nothing more than repackaged far-right mental cases who hate anyone and everyone who doesn’t think like them. But instead of plotting their 30-front war in email and relying on ‘messaging’, they’re going all out to ramp up the hate and fear, led by Frank Gaffney and his sidekick Brigitte Gabriel.
Yes, the Heritage Benghazi Coalition encounter was just as bad as Dana Milbank said it was. All of the apologists out trying to rehabilitate this hateful event while the Erick Ericksons of the world do a dance around whether they were actually affiliated or just provided space are ridiculous. Of course it was hateful, and of course Heritage Foundation was far more than simply a “host.”
So who is this Benghazi Accountability Coalition, anyway?
The Benghazi Accountability Coalition is a recycled version of the Groundswell “messagers,” except this time it appears they have some funding or other support lacking the first time around.
On their website, they list the following people as “leaders.” Those in bold were among those who were plotting a year ago to make Benghazi an impeachable event.
I’ve just lost any respect I had left for Terry Bradshaw.
Fox News on Wednesday continued its multi-year obsession with the terrorist attack in Benghazi by inviting NFL football analyst and former quarterback Terry Bradshaw to weigh in. Out Numbered host Andrea Tantaros began the segment by highlighting a…