Bill O’Reilly has an idea: employ an “anti-terror army” of 25,000 “English-speaking” mercenaries to take on all terrorists around the world.
Thankfully, U.S. Naval War College Professor Tom Nichols didn’t hesitate to decimate O’Reilly’s “terrible idea” while appearing on Fox:
It’s a morally corrosive idea to try to outsource our national security. This is something Americans are going to have to do for themselves. We’re not going to solve this problem by creating an army of Marvel’s Avengers or the Guardians of the Galaxy. We’re gonna have to do it ourselves.
While the U.S. certainly used mercenaries before, the national security expert pointed out that we’ve never used them “to do the bulk of our fighting.”
Update: On CBS News, Bill O’Reilly stood by his suggestion, saying that a mercenary force would "take the politics out of it." He predicted, "It’s going to happen. This anti-terror army is going to happen."
Because we all know how well it works out when the U.S. wages a war against a faceless, shapeless enemy, justifying military intervention in any part of the world…
Obama also addressed post-9/11 America in remarks about the Central Intelligence Agency. “We tortured some folks,” he said. “We did some things that were contrary to our values. I understand why it happened. I think it’s important when we look back to recall how afraid people were after the Twin Towers fell, and the Pentagon had been hit, and a plane in Pennsylvania had fallen and people did not know whether more attacks were imminent and there was enormous pressure on our law enforcement and our national security teams to try to deal with this.”
This isn’t the first time Obama has said that the US tortured people but the usage of “folks” immediately set tongues wagging. Presumably it’s because “folks” is far more humanizing than “detainees” or “enemy combatants”. The US did torture people (real flesh-and-blood human people) after 9/11, and it’s good that Obama says so—even if he was just trying to get off the topic of his CIA admitting to spying on Congress.
For a long time it was incredibly controversial to call “enhanced interrogation” torture. It’s a sign of progress that no one batted an eye at the “torture” bit and instead focused on the “folks” part. To their credit, even conservatives have come around to using the dreaded T word.
I am stunned our President just said “we tortured” people from the podium. This is a PR victory for our enemies. Make it stop. Make it stop.— Amanda Carpenter (@amandacarpenter) August 1, 2014
Typical week in the Obama Administration: conservatives labeled ‘a**holes’ terrorists labeled ‘folks’— Darrell Issa (@DarrellIssa) August 1, 2014
Barack Obama is an inexperienced “celebrity” community organizer/campaigner-in-chief who won’t stop apologizing for America and was only elected president because of The Decemberists.
FLASHBACK: In the 2002 #GASen election, outgoing Senator Saxby Chambliss (R) distastefully smeared triple amputee veteran and then occupant Max Cleland (D) in an ad by comparing him to Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Sadly, Chambliss’s smear propelled him to a victory.
Thankfully, this rotten asshole’s leaving office after this year, and better yet, this seat should hopefully go back to the Blue column with a Michelle Nunn win this November as just desserts for this ad in 2002.
John Bolton getting a taste of his own medicine.
From the 06.16.2014 edition of FBN’s The Independents:
To listen to Mitt Romney, George W. Bush never existed or led the country into two horrible and entirely avoidable wars with his pal Dick Cheney. Next he’ll claim the economic crisis was Obama’s fault too.
On Meet the Press this morning, failed candidate Romney had plenty of blame to spread on President Obama and Hillary Clinton about the situation in Iraq. Evidently his memory has gotten more flawed since he failed to win the Presidency in 2012.
First, the history lesson. The status of forces agreement failed candidate Romney claims is an Obama/Clinton failure was actually a George W. Bush failure. Bush negotiated and signed the status of forces agreement. Obama was hoping to get a framework in place after that agreement to allow a small residual force, but the Iraqis refused. It’s their country. What was Obama supposed to do? Recommit to invading and knocking out the government the United States installed?
When it comes to underestimating the threat, no one did that better than failed candidate Mitt Romney. Here’s a guy who completely missed the fact that he was going to lose his bid for the White House in 2012. It came as a complete shock to him. Why anyone thinks he’s credible on matters of strategic importance is beyond me.
Mitt Romney is a political failure and a joke. The idea that he merits any consideration in a serious discussion of a serious problem is laughable. If this is the best Republicans can put up to display their political and national security acumen to the nation, they’re all failures.
Let’s NOT restart the Iraqi War. It was foolish in the 1st place to even invade that nation back in 2003, and will be much more foolish to invade it again now.
The surprisingly swift takeover of Iraqi cities should have everyone worried.
Iraq roared back into the headlines this week with news that a terrorist group successfully captured the second-largest city in the country. Since then, the militants allied with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) — also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) — took another two major cities, Tikrit and Kirkuk, and managed to continue its hold on Fallujah. As the militants attempt to continue their momentum, here’s a look at the most worrying elements of the current crisis:
1. The current fighting will only strengthen sectarianism among Iraqis.
The post-Sadaam government in Iraq has been predicated on one main idea: a balance between Iraq’s Shiite majority and the minority Sunni and Kurds could be maintained and keep the country together. Sunni insurgents opposed to this concept have been plaguing the government since the days of the invasion and ISIS sustained itself in the years since through terrorizing Shiite communities. With their latest push to seize territory, however, ISIS has reopened old wounds. Kurdish forces on Wednesday took control of the Iraqi city of Kirkuk from ISIS, as peshmerga fighters, the security forces of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish north, swept into bases the Iraqi army had previously vacated.”The whole of Kirkuk has fallen into the hands of peshmerga,” said spokesperson Jabbar Yawar. “No Iraqi army remains in Kirkuk now.”
But the freeing of the city from ISIS presents problems of its own. Kirkuk is an oil-producing city, and a large one at that, one whose fate has been hotly contested between the central government in Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). Just yesterday, the Kurdish government told investors that Baghdad owes Kurdistan $6 billion for the last six months of its share in the Iraqi budget. The fate of Kirkuk after any eventually defeat of ISIS would help solve some of the money woes of the KRG, upping the chance for further strife between the Kurds and central government.
On top of that, Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said on Wednesday that he was ready “to form peace units to defend the holy places” of both Muslims and Christians. In the years of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, al-Sadr’s Madhi Army militia attacked coaltion forces and drove up tensions between the Shiite and Sunni communities. Whether or not al-Sadr forms his proposed “peace units,” it seems that Shiites are already calling up forces, which will likely concern the Sunni population. “Shiite militia leaders said that at least four brigades, each with 2,500 to 3,000 fighters, had been hastily assembled and equipped in recent weeks by the Shiite political parties to protect Baghdad and the political process in Iraq,” the New York Times reported. “They identified the outfits as the Kataibe Brigade, the Assaib Brigade, the Imam al-Sadr Brigade and the armed wing of the Badr Organization.”
2. The Iraqi Army we spent billions of dollars developing is falling down on the job and the U.S. may soon be pressured to step in.
The United States spent more that $20 billion in its efforts to train and equip the Iraqi security forces over the last decade. When confronted with ISIS’ offensive, however, military leaders instructed their troops to flee. Iraqi army ineffectual. In Fallujah, the Army has proved unable to dislodge ISIS from their strongholds, despite having superior numbers and access to aircraft. And on Thursday, ISIS posted a video on YouTube allegedly showing thousands of Iraqi soldiers captured in ISIS’ takeover of Tikrit. After the fall of Mosul on Tuesday, the government appealed to Iraqis to join in the fight against ISIS, leading to photos of crowds of men outside of recruitment centers in Baghdad. But given the lack of success the soldiers already serving have demonstrated, the new recruits’ effect is uncertain. Iraq’s parliament is also currently refusing to grant emergency powers to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, concerned that he will .
Though the last American soldier left Iraq on Dec. 18, 2011, Iraq is now asking for the U.S. to renew military action within its borders. According to the New York Times, al-Maliki “secretly asked the Obama administration to consider carrying out airstrikes against extremist staging areas.” Al-Maliki raised his request, the Times reports, with both Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the head of U.S. Central Command, and Vice President Joe Biden last month. In these conversations, al-Maliki “indicated he was prepared to allow the United States to carry out strikes using warplanes or drones.”
The U.S. has so far rebuffed these requests for direct intervention. “Ultimately, this is for the Iraqi security forces, and the Iraqi government to deal with,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John F. Kirby said Tuesday. But President Obama on Thursday said, “I don’t rule out anything because we do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foot hold in either Iraq or Syria, for that matter.” White House officials have since denied any chance of ground troops being used in Iraq, but drone strikes remain a possibility.
Amazingly enough, should the U.S. choose to intervene militarily, it would place America as an ally of Iran in fighting ISIS. The Wall Street Journal on Thursday reported that Tehran has deployed two battalions of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to take on ISIS. “Combined Iraqi-Iranian forces had retaken control across 85% of Tikrit, the birthplace of former dictator Saddam Hussein, according to Iraqi and Iranian security sources,” the Journal said, adding that they were also “helping guard the capital Baghdad and the two cities of Najaf and Karbala.”
Upping the chance that the U.S. gets directly involved again, dozens of Turkish citizens are currently being held after ISIS militants stormed a consulate in Mosul. Turkey has promised to retaliate if any are hurt and as Turkey is a fellow member of NATO, should it call on the U.S. for support in its defense, the U.S. is bound to respond in some way.
3. No one has any idea what is going to happen next.
For months in its Iraqi exploits, the rebranded ISIS has stuck to the script of its predecessor, Al Qaeda in Iraq, setting off car bombs and other improvised explosive devices in Shiite-populated areas. This was extremely effective and highly lethal, leading to last year being the most violent year since the end of the U.S. war ended.
In January, however, something shifted. They captured and managed to hold Fallujah, despite heavy fire from the Iraqi Army. They’ve freed scores of their supporters from Iraqi prisions over teh last year. They stolen millions of dollars from Mosul’s banks on Tuesday. And they’ve begun recruiting throughout the cities they’ve captured, playing off of Sunni dissatisfaction with the rule of al-Maliki. And they still continue to fight on in neighboring Syria.
Despite setbacks in Tikrit and Kirkuk, ISIS still remains unchallenged in Mosul and continues to push south towards Baghdad. The odds of ISIS fighters actually capturing the capital remain slim. However, given that few would have predicted the stunning speed at which the militants have taken territory in the past days, it seems unwise to rule out any possibility. With the resources that are now in the possession of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the dream of creating a state carved out of Iraq and Syria could well be in the process of coming to fruition. Whether or not they actually manage to complete that plan depends on whether or not the Iraqi government pulls together for long enough to actually inspire their troops to fight back, whether the United States decides to intervene, and whether Iranian and Kurdish forces can turn the tide alone. It’s a lot of “whether”s for an extremely volatile situation.
Source: Hayes Brown for ThinkProgress
Republicans are outraged that President Barack Obama authorized a prisoner exchange with the Taliban for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl — who has been held captive since 2009 — and that they plan to use the exchange against Democrats in the upcoming…
BREAKING: President Obama Announces Plan To Keep 9,800 Troops In Afghanistan, Hinging On Afghanistan's Soon-To-Be New President In Afghan Elections Decision To Agree With Bilateral Agreement Mentioned Here
"After more than a decade of Afghan war, ‘Now we are finishing the job we started," Obama said Tuesday. "This year, we will bring America’s longest war to a responsible end.&…
Updated — 2:57 p.m. ETAP Photo/ Evan Vucci, File
President Barack Obama speaking during a troop rally on May 25 after arriving at Bagram Air Field for an unannounced visit, north of Kabul, Afghanistan.
President Obama announced Tuesday that he wants to keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan after the U.S. combat mission ends this year, according to a senior administration official.
The White House issued the following statement Tuesday ahead of the president’s announcement:
This afternoon the President will make an announcement about the next steps in winding down the war in Afghanistan. He will announce that our combat mission will be over by the end of 2014. He will make clear that we are open to continued efforts in Afghanistan on two narrow missions after 2014: training Afghan Forces and supporting CT operations against the remnants of al Qaeda. We will only sustain a military presence after 2014 if the Afghan government signs the Bilateral Security Agreement. Both Afghan presidential candidates recently reiterated their intentions to sign the agreement quickly if elected. Assuming a BSA is signed, at the beginning of 2015, we will have 9,800 U.S. service members in different parts of the country, together with our NATO allies and other partners. By the end of 2015, we would reduce that presence by roughly half, consolidating U.S. troops in Kabul and on Bagram Airfield. And one year later, by the end of 2016, we will draw down to a normal Embassy presence with a security assistance office in Kabul, as we have done in Iraq.
The announcement comes just two days after Obama made an unannounced visit to the troops at Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul, Afghanistan.AP
On a conference call Tuesday, senior administrative officials said the White House hopes to cut the 9,800 troops in Afghanistan “by roughly half” at the end of 2015 and further reduce to a “normal embassy presence” by 2016.
Officials reiterated that the combat mission will conclude at the end of 2014, and U.S. military efforts will focus on training and counterterrorism thereafter.
The White House praised the Afghan national security forces for “stepping up” at this time and “growing in not only size but capability.”
On the issue of what message the U.S. is sending to Al Qaeda and Taliban with this draw down, officials said “there will be violence, there will be challenges in Afghanistan” and they acknowledged that there continue to be Al Qaeda threats in the region. However, the White House believes now is the time for the Afghans to be responsible for securing their own country and they believe Afghan forces are “prepared to step forward.”
“This is a moment of some momentum in Afghanistan,” a senior administration official said on the conference call.
President Obama is expected to elaborate on U.S. counterterrorism in Afghanistan when he speaks from West Point on Wednesday.
Source; Mike Hayes for Buzzfeed
Daily Kos: BREAKING: Benghazi Update Reports No 'Stand Down' Order - Military Could Not Have Changed Outcome
In the latest Benghazi investigation update, released by the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, it is stated there was no ‘Stand Down’ order issued.
Though the report does not cast the most favorable light on the President or the military, this should debunk the many lies Fox News has been telling their viewers. It would be nice to think this report would put the scandal notion too bed, but we can’t count on it. It is Fox News after all. They have a reputation to keep up.
The full report is worth the read. Here are some of the findings:V. There was no “stand down” order issued to U.S. military personnel in Tripoli who sought to join the fight in Benghazi. However, because official reviews after the attack were not sufficiently comprehensive, there was confusion about the roles and responsibilities of these individuals.
The right-wing scare machine’s been lying to the American people about Benghazi, likely as an effort to smear Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and by proxy, all Democrats leading up to 2016.
America must move off a permanent war footing.
WASHINGTON — The good news for President Obama, members of Congress and other capital policymakers as they look ahead to 2014: Next year can’t possibly be as bad as this one has been.
The year that is limping to a close was defined by the disastrous rollout of the Affordable Care Act, the 16-day shutdown of the federal government and the disclosures by contractor Edward Snowden of National Security Agency spying that prompted presidential apologies to foreign friends and allies. Proposals to overhaul the immigration system and tighten gun laws went nowhere despite being supported by most Americans. The standing of the president and the Congress sank to record or near-record lows.
That said, some encouraging glimmers at year’s end include a bipartisan budget deal (admittedly a modest one) that passed and an economic recovery that is gaining steam.
Here are five crucial dates that will help determine how he does in fulfilling that goal.
Obama’s bully pulpit
It was a big speech — his electrifying address to the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004 — that launched Barack Obama as a national figure. Rhetoric helped rescue him when his presidential campaign faltered over race and a firebrand former pastor. His soaring language before an enormous crowd massed in Chicago’s Grant Park the night he was elected in 2008 boosted his standing across the country.
Now the State of the Union address next month will be an opportunity for Obama once again to use the bully pulpit to reach and persuade the nation. Speaking to what is likely to be the biggest audience he will command all year, the president can outline his legislative agenda for the year. Will he renew his push for an immigration overhaul? Revive efforts to simplify the tax code? Try to address growing economic inequality?
In his first speech to a Joint Session of Congress, in 2009, Obama focused on efforts to stem the nation’s financial crisis — “the state of our economy is a concern that rises above all others,” he declared — and in the addresses that followed he has pushed for education bills, touted the end of the Iraq war and demanded votes on gun control legislation. Last February, 33.5 million people tuned in to hear what he had to say.
"The State of the Union address is obviously important; it gets the most attention from the news media and from citizens," says political scientist Jeffrey Cohen of Fordham University. That said, there are limits to what words can do. After five years in office during a polarized time, it’s hard to find many Americans who are open to persuasion. "People really have their minds made up," Cohen says, "and the people who don’t have their minds made up are fed up."
Consider the priorities Obama highlighted in the State of the Union a year ago. He said this year would be “our best chance for bipartisan, comprehensive tax reform.” It’s stalled. He wanted “to make high-quality preschool available to every single child in America.” That hasn’t happened. He said “the time has come to pass comprehensive immigration reform.” It didn’t. He proposed raising the minimum wage, saying “we should be able to get that done.” Apparently not.
Obamacare in recovery
Some of the deadlines in the Affordable Care Act have turned out be remarkably elastic. The timetable for small businesses to give employees a choice of plans on the new marketplace was delayed for a year. So was the requirement that bigger businesses offer health coverage. The deadlines for individuals to sign up and to pay in order to start coverage on Jan. 1 was nudged back a bit.
But March 31 remains the key date, the deadline for Americans to have enrolled for health care coverage or face a fine. If they don’t have insurance through their employer or in a government program, the law says they have to have signed up for a plan or pay a penalty when they file their tax returns for 2014.
On the day before the HealthCare.gov website opened on Oct. 1, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was asked what success would look like. “Well, I think success looks like at least 7 million people having signed up by the end of March 2014,” she told NBC. Then, the administration projected 3.2 million would sign up by Jan. 1 and that 1.2 million would follow in each of the first three months of the year.
So far, enrollment levels haven’t come close to those targets, although enrollment has surged in recent weeks.
The March 31 enrollment levels are likely to be seen as a referendum on whether the website and the exchanges have recovered. It also will show whether younger, healthier adults — the ones needed to make the financial calculations underlying the Affordable Care Act work — signed up. The White House has been enlisting mothers to hector their kids on the reasons to do that.
No other issue looms as more critical to Obama’s legacy, for good or ill. “George W. Bush is going to go down in history as the president of the Iraq war,” Cohen says. “Obama is going to go down in history as the president of health care.”
Will Iran make a deal?
Concern about the regime in Iran developing nuclear weapons has been one of the most serious foreign policy challenges facing Obama and his predecessor — and one complicated by the fact that Washington and Tehran haven’t had diplomatic relations since the Iranian hostage crisis erupted more than three decades ago.
Even so, just before Thanksgiving, Iran and the West announced the first steps toward what could be a landmark deal. Tehran agreed to roll back or freeze parts of its nuclear program for six months in exchange for relief from some international economic sanctions. At the end of the six months, the two sides are supposed to have reached a more sweeping, longer-term agreement.
The six-month timetable is expected to be triggered shortly, after technical issues now being discussed in Geneva are worked out. The accord can be renewed for another six months to continue negotiations, if needed, which would push back the deadline to the end of the year.
Obama has been trying to put out fires on Capitol Hill, threatening to veto a push to tighten sanctions on Iran. He also has had to calm concerns raised by leaders of Israel and Saudi Arabia, who argue Tehran is just trying to buy time without actually forfeiting its nuclear capability.
For the president, concluding the deal would “add to the theme that wars were closed off or prevented from happening” during his watch, says Ray Takeyh, a former senior adviser on Iran at the State Department and author of The Guardians of the Revolution: Iran’s Approach to the World. Takeyh says Obama has been involved in crafting strategy on this issue. “If it works, it will always be an achievement for this president.”
For second-term presidents, midterm elections have a history of being harsh.
In 2006, George W. Bush’s sixth year, the GOP lost control of the House and Senate. In 1986, Ronald Reagan’s sixth year, Republicans lost control of the Senate. While Democrats managed to pick up four House seats in 1998, during Bill Clinton’s second term, no president in modern times has seen his party gain control of the House or Senate in the sixth year of his tenure.
When Republicans bore the brunt of the blame for the government shutdown last fall, some Democrats were buoyed about their long-shot to regain control of the House, which would require scoring a gain of 17 seats. More feasible is a Republican takeover of the Senate. The GOP needs a net gain of six, and Democrats are playing defense: 21 Democratic-held seats are up, compared with 14 Republican-held seats.
Prime targets: The seven Democratic seats in states Mitt Romney carried last year. (They are Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia.)
Facing a Congress under unified GOP control would complicate Obama’s final two years in office, making it harder for him to pass legislation on immigration or climate change, restore funding for education and win confirmation for appointees to everything from federal agencies to the Supreme Court. Congressional committees controlled by the other side are more likely to launch investigations and summon Cabinet secretaries to Capitol Hill for a grilling.
"I was there for a majority of Democrats and I was there for a majority of Republicans and I was there for when it was 50-50," says former Arkansas senator Blanche Lincoln, who lost her bid for a third term in 2010. The differences for the president under each scenario were stark, she says. "It’s pretty important."
Obama watched Republicans gain control of the House during his first midterm, in 2010, when the debate over health care contributed to a Democratic loss of 63 seats, a post-World War II record. Losing the Senate in his second midterm would mean he would leave the White House with the Democratic Party in significantly weaker condition than when he arrived.
Obama’s opposition to the invasion of Iraq helped him claim the Democratic nomination over Hillary Clinton in 2008, and voters’ weariness over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan contributed to his victory in the general election over Republican John McCain. One of those wars is over: The last U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq two years ago.
Force levels in Afghanistan have been steadily declining, and the U.N. mandate for combat operations expires at the end of next year.
What happens then isn’t clear. For months, the United States has been trying to convince Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign a bilateral security agreement setting the ground rules for a continued American presence for the next 10 years. It would allow several thousand U.S. troops to remain to train and advise Afghan forces. Counterterrorism operations by special operations forces could continue.
By Dec. 31, 2014, the U.S. mission will be revamped in Afghanistan — or, if no agreement is reached, it might be ended entirely, 13 years after the war began. That so-called zero option once seemed an improbable threat of leverage in negotiations. but analysts no longer rule it out as impossible.
Given the eagerness of most Americans to see this chapter close, failing to reach a deal probably wouldn’t cost Obama politically at home, says Vali Nasr, a former adviser on Afghanistan and Pakistan in the Obama administration who is now dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. But the substantive impact over the longer term could be catastrophic.
"It becomes a problem down the road if we don’t have an agreement with Karzai, we end up going to a zero option with Afghanistan and the place disintegrates into civil war," he says. "If Afghanistan unravels, the reasons that got us there in the first place may very well return, and we may very well be put in the same position 10 years from now and have to go back in."
That debate just might be raging a year from now.
Bachmann: Obama funding Al-Qaeda proves ‘we are in God’s End Times’
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) falsely claimed over the weekend that President Barack Obama was “paying to give arms to terrorists including Al-Qaeda,” which she warned was a signed that “we are in God’s End Times.”
Speaking to the Christian radio show Understanding the Times on Saturday, the Minnesota Republican incorrectly stated that “President Obama waived a ban on arming terrorists in order to allow weapons to go to the Syrian opposition.”
“Your listeners, U.S. taxpayers, are now paying to give arms to terrorists including Al-Qaeda,” she told host Jan Markell.
NAIROBI, Kenya — A Navy SEAL team targeted a senior leader of the Shabab militant group in a raid on his seaside villa in the Somali town of Baraawe on Saturday, American officials said, in response to a deadly attack on a Nairobi shopping mall for which the group had claimed responsibility.
The SEAL team stealthily approached the beachfront house by sea, firing on the unidentified target in a predawn gunbattle that was the most significant raid by American troops on Somali soil since commandos killed Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a Qaeda mastermind, near the same town four years ago.
One year ago today, on September 11, 2012, a U.S. diplomatic outpost and Central Intelligence Agency annex were attacked by extremists in Benghazi, Libya, killing four Americans, U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, U.S. foreign service officer Sean Smith, and two security personnel, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, both former Navy SEALS.
While the Obama administration had been successful in degrading the capabilities of core-al Qaeda — or the terror organization’s centralized version that was responsible for the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington — the tragedy reminded Americans and U.S. allies that the threat from like-minded extremists was still alive and well.
Instead of joining to unite the country in the face of this terrible tragedy, Republicans, at first led by then-GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and later Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), turned the Benghazi attacks into a political fiasco, searching far and near for a way to hang the blame on President Obama and with the aim of damaging his political stature at the least, or at most, bringing down members of his national security team or even ultimately his presidency.
But the long, drawn-out campaign to bring down Obama turned up nothing. Everything conservatives and Republicans held up as evidence of malfeasance on the part of the Obama administration’s handling of Benghazi and its aftermath was later discredited by either facts or logic. The right’s biggest achievement throughout this whole Benghazi mess was keeping Susan Rice, who was U.S. ambassador to the U.N. at the time of the attacks, from being nominated as Secretary of State. But even that campaign — led by McCain — seemed to backfire as Rice is now Obama’s National Security Adviser, a position with arguably more influence on the President’s foreign policy thinking.
Media Matters has a run-down of the some of the top Benghazi myths. And throughout the GOP’s Benghazi witch-hunt, ThinkProgress has been compiling a timeline of the key events — from Romney’s first baseless attacks on Obama, the faux-scandal surrounding the infamous “talking points” delivered by then-U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, McCain’s smear campaign, and highlights of how all the GOP-led attacks on Obama were eventually fully debunked. On January 23, during a Senate hearing on Benghazi, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton scolded Republicans for politicizing Benghazi, and in this instance, for focusing on whether a protest over an anti-Muslim video sparked the attacks:
CLINTON: With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans! Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided to go kill some Americans?! What difference at this point does it make?! It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again.
We have updated the timeline which can be viewed here.
Conservatives aren’t done with Benghazi. Fox News, Tea Party types and a dwindling number of Republican hangers on in Congress keep trying to pin Obama down with something. But they’ll never find anything nefarious. Benghazi is not the next Watergate. Nor will President Obama be impeached over the matter. “The whole thing defies logic,” an exacerbated Obama said in May. “And the fact that this keeps on getting churned out, frankly, has a lot to do with political motivations.
“We dishonor [the four Americans killed in Benghazi] when we turn things like this into a political circus,” Obama added. “What happened was tragic. It was carried out by extremists inside of Libya. We are out there trying to hunt down the folks who carried this out, and we are trying to make sure that we fix the system so that it doesn’t happen again.”