While attempting to use the death of American government officials in Libya to help Mitt Romney’s election bid, fellow Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz, and his House Republican colleagues on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, outed a classified CIA operation, on C-SPAN no less, endangering American national security.
Oh but, as the saying goes, it gets better.
Chaffetz and company were using the death of the US ambassador to Libya, and others, to try to smear the President for “security lapses,” and as the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank points out in a great scoop, Chaffetz and company managed to create their own massive security lapse.
It would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous.
In a nutshell, the State Department was briefing the congressional Republicans, at an open hearing that the Republicans called, and were showing commercially-available satellite images of the area of the attack. Suddenly, Republican Chaffetz and GOP Committee chair Darrell Issa (another piece of work) both suggested that the images showed classified information that could endanger current ongoing operations in the area. As Milbank points out, this confirmed two things – one, that the picture was apparently of a CIA base, and two, that the base might still be in operation even after the attack that killed our ambassador.
Chaffetz’s and Issa’s outbursts ensured that every terrorist in the world would now be checking C-SPAN to find out what the CIA was hiding in Benghazi, and that the base in Benghazi would become a high-priority target, as the CIA is frowned upon by Al Qaeda terrorists and others.
Heckuva job, boys.
But you can’t fault, Chaffetz and Issa, they and their fellow House Republicans were simply doing the bidding of their mentor in “opportunism,” Mitt Romney. You’ll recall that it was Team Romney that found the murder of a US ambasador in Benghazi to be “an opportunity.” And it was Mitt Romney himself who said he was waiting for another Iran hostage type crisis, or any national security crisis really, to take advantage of the “opportunity” to help his campaign for president. Chaffetz and the House GOP were simply doing what any good Republican would do in their place – they were taking advantage of what they saw as a great “opportunity,” the murder of American government officials.
And as a result of their loose lips, we may now have even more “opportunities” for Romney, Chaffetz and Issa in the near future.
It’s ironic, you know. Chaffetz, especially, loves to get on his moral high horse to bash the gays. He’s a devout Mormon, and never misses an opportunity to legislatively jam his religious beliefs down the throats of gay-Americans who don’t even live in his district, let alone his state. I’ve often though it downright queer the way the cherubic Chaffetz spends so much time obsessing over the whole “gay” thing.
(Chaffetz also reportedly gave an interview suggesting he’s a 9/11-truther, to add to the weirdness factor.)
But say what you will about gay marriage, Mr. Chaffetz, it never put the national security of the United States at risk. Can’t say the same about you.
That the Benghazi compound had included a large CIA presence had been reported but not confirmed. The New York Times, for example, had reported that among those evacuated were “about a dozen CIA operatives and contractors.” The paper, like The Washington Post, withheld locations and details of the facilities at the administration’s request.
But on Wednesday, the withholding was on hold.
The Republican lawmakers, in their outbursts, alternated between scolding the State Department officials for hiding behind classified material and blaming them for disclosing information that should have been classified. But the lawmakers created the situation by ordering a public hearing on a matter that belonged behind closed doors.
Republicans were aiming to embarrass the Obama administration over State Department security lapses. But they inadvertently caused a different picture to emerge than the one that has been publicly known: that the victims may have been let down not by the State Department but by the CIA. If the CIA was playing such a major role in these events, which was the unmistakable impression left by Wednesday’s hearing, having a televised probe of the matter was absurd.
Another point. The question of how much obvious security there was at the compound becomes rather interesting now that Chaffetz has informed us that this was actually a CIA station. I could imagine that the CIA might not have wanted a massive contingent of Marines based at the “consulate and ‘annex’,” lest it signal to the bad guys that this was not simply a backwater “consulate and ‘annex’.” But the administration couldn’t give that response while Mitt Romney and the House Republicans were berating them for supposedly not having more security at the station, they couldn’t explain that maybe we didn’t want the extra security because it might have signaled that there was actually a CIA operation underway.
Sounds like it’s time for a hearing about the hearing.