On September 11, 2012, the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in history on the United States, and just under two months before the re-election of President Barrack Obama, ugly events in Benghazi, Libya resulted in the deaths of four American patriots whose major mistake was they believed they were the forward representatives and projection of the national integrity and interests of America. As is becoming progressively apparent, they were instead the unfortunate dupes of an administration that saw its survival as the overarching American interest, and that was comfortable sacrificing perhaps the individuals themselves if it meant the administration could persevere for another term.
The ugliness that is just being uncovered in congressional hearings has echoes of similarity to a long ago scandal, with similar elements of abuse of power and cover up misdirection. One forgets that the monster scandal that was Watergate, eventually effecting the resignation of the most powerful man in American governance, the President of the United States, was birthed in a minor event of a political dirty trick, breaking in to an opponent party’s political headquarters, that in the short space of two years led to the connections of cover up, IRS abuse, wiretapping, political corruption of the FBI and CIA, eventual whistleblowers, and eventual ties to the oval office itself. It broke the political back of Richard Nixon, and would have been easily avoided but for the arrogance and defensiveness of the primary participants. The recent statement on May 4th by Presidential spokesman Jay Carney that “Benghazi was a long time ago” may soon be placed alongside President Nixon’s Press Secretary Ron Ziegler who proclaimed Watergate “a third rate burglary attempt“. The epicenter of all scandals in democratic governments is not the event itself, as it is the light the event shines on the ongoing arrogant sacrifice of truth and constitutional adherence. The need for truth and integrity in a democracy, may be the eventual positive principle that these brave Americans, who thought they were fighting terrorism, will have sacrificed their lives defending. The questions and similarities separated by the four decades between these two superficially dissimilar events are provocative echoes that bear further investigation:
1) The Committee to Re-elect the President: The politicization of a President’s actions are particularly acute in the year they are standing for re-election. The President typically forms a re-election team that positions themselves to format a theme and strategy that will lead to victory, as the President theoretically has the burden by constitutional oath to act in the nation’s best interests, not specifically his own re-election needs. The two motivations can come in conflict with each other, but one presumes the national interest would supercede any potential storyline. In 1973, the burglary of the Democrat National Committee offices at the Watergate Hotel was ordered by the head of the President’s re-election committee, Jeb Macgruder, to obtain intelligence as to the Democrat party’s strategy to defeat the President. The bizarre logic that would suggest a very popular president with a huge lead in the polls against his adversary George McGovern would need such information, defies understanding, considering the risk and illegality of the act. In 2013, after the Benghazi incident, an immediate and concerted effort to change the facts on the ground, “scrubbing” of the facts and the trail of communications, possible intimidation of participants, and deception of the voting public by blaming the event on an obscure American’s unwatched video was present within days. The scope of such actions would suggest advanced coordination and involvement of powerful people, whose single mission was to protect the presidential re-election story. Questions that need to be asked, as to who could achieve such widespread actions and who gave the orders for such coordination, raise the obvious implication that the political arm of the President was directing traffic on an issue of national security.
2) Involvement of the highest officials: The Watergate trail eventually not only showed the corruption of the political arm but also the corrupted politization of the highest executive branch officials, with the direct tie in of such officials as the head of the FBI, the Attorney General of the United States, the Chief of Staff to the President, and the Chief Counsel to the President. It eventually led to the firing of a Special Prosecutor, the resignation of an Attorney General, and prison sentences for two Attorneys General, two Presidential Counsels and the President’s Chief of Staff. The trail of the misdirection and possible whitewashing of facts to deceive the voting public regarding the events leading up to Benghazi, the terrorist attack, and its aftermath, is to this point unresolved, but may point to a Secretary of State or the President’s own National Security Advisor. Linkages this high would suggest malfeasance at the highest levels, particularly if it is shown the Secretary of State perjured herself before Congress. The driver for the truth, and the ultimate destruction of the Nixon Administration, was the appointment of a Special Prosecutor and the establishment of a Select Congressional Committee. A few more whistle blowers with Benghazi and the investigation may take on a whole new life of its own.
3) The Establishment of the Select Committee: The Democrats in congress had the most to gain in injuring the President in 1973, but the continuing drip, drip, drip of facts eventually led to increasing participation of Republicans in asking tough questions, as the scope of the cover-up became clear. One wonders if a bipartisan search for the truth is still possible in today’s blind political obedience, but facts have a nasty way of bringing inevitable conclusions despite the best efforts of some to try to bury or distract. If the investigation begins to show that involvement of far flung and apparently unrelated scandals are connected by the effort to re-elect the President, such as directed use of the IRS to harass through audit opponents of the President, or the inter agency manipulations of Fast and Furious, the scope of the scandal will go in unforeseen directions that may threaten the democrat party’ prospects itself. That is usually the trigger that brings legislators to “seek the truth” regardless of party, so they are not caught on the wrong side of history.
4) The Hubris of the President: President Nixon was convinced his entire political life that the political and media elite were out to get him. The fact that they very well may have been does nothing to obscure the fact that Nixon himself created most of the opponent’s ammunition for his own destruction. Hubris is defined as extreme pride or arrogance, and the current inhabitant of the White House and the 37th President have much of this flaw in common. President Obama’s conversion of American international interests as subservient to his overweening desire to “re-fashion” America as a socialist democracy to be cemented through his re-election, is the unspoken driving force behind the tawdry events in Benghazi. The addressing of previous Benghazi attacks with less, not more security for his on the ground representatives, the apparent sleep through during a direct attack on an American consulate when the very scope of the attack suggested the need for a reprisal for both safety of the survivors and the integrity of the American prescence, the bold faced lie that a video was the inciting prod for otherwise passive demonstrators to become agitated to the point of violence, fall directly in the lap of the commander in chief. So many international events that have resulted in the aversion of eyes by this commander in chief suggest instead a more malign neglect designed to progressively weaken America’s position in the world, and risks her safety. In this particular case, deaths of four Americans punctuated the unwillingness to engage in the very maelstrom he helped create in Libya . We will soon see, I suspect, whether this President can maintain distance from the scandal with the help of his enablers in the media.
Despite the above ruminations, I am not a conspiratorialist, and do not claim that the Benghazi debacle is a perfect mirror of the more complex Watergate scandal. Skirting your responsibilities, letting down people who work for you, and being a perfectly awful Secretary of State or President does not rise to the stature of burglary or obstruction of justice. There is little role in my mind for impeachment committees to form on the basis that the President is crummy at his job. That is what elections are supposed to be for. The lurking connector out there, though, that becomes the inevitable echo, is if a clear recognition develops that an election was manipulated by the coordinated withholding of crucial information through any means possible, or there exists evidence of premeditated neglect of duty to sacrifice others to save one’s own skin. Then, the hounds of scandal may be unleashed in unpredictable ways.