GOP House Armed Services Chair exonerates Obama, Hillary over Benghazi

GOP Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, the Republican chair of the House Armed Services Committee, says he’s satisfied with how the US military – and ergo the Obama administration – responded to the deadly attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans, including the US ambassador to Libya.

The news also exonerates expected Democratic presidential nominee, and then-Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. More on that in a moment.

“I think I’ve pretty well been satisfied that given where the troops were, how quickly the thing all happened and how quickly it dissipated, we probably couldn’t have done more than we did,” McKeon said to reporters today, as quoted by AP.

McKeon then went on to plant a not-so-subtle dig at fellow Republicans who keep harping on “Benghazi” as if there were a real scandal there.

“We have been working on this for a long time. We issued a preliminary report,” McKeon said. “At some point, when we run out of people to talk to, or we run out of people to talk to two or three times, at some point, we think we’ll have as much of this story as we’re going to get and move on.”

Put a fork in that GOP talking point.

Lead Benghazi cheerleader Lindsey Graham has been focused on getting the bottom.

Lead Benghazi cheerleader Lindsey Graham has been focused on getting to the bottom.

The Republicans have been trying to make political hay of Benghazi since the attack, which took place on September 11, 2012, only a few months before the presidential election.

But it’s been an uphill climb for the GOP as the American people apparently understood that while four people dying was a tragic thing, it was just as tragic when some 13 attacks on US diplomatic missions during the Bush years killed 17 Americans. That’s like four Benghazis.

Of course, the actual 9/11, which was also under George Bush’s watch, was like 744 Benghazis, but who’s counting.

The GOP – well, apparently only some in the GOP, now – claim that the Obama administration got their public statements wrong immediately after the attacks because they were trying to downplay the terror angle right before the election.

In fact, the Obama administration’s statement, that the attacks weren’t necessarily terrorism, but may have been simply an angry mob gone wrong, provoked in part by an anti-Muslim/anti-Mohammed video that was posted on YouTube, were backed up by a further investigation from the NYT.

From that earlier NYT story:

Months of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault. The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam

Benghazi was not infiltrated by Al Qaeda….

The violence, though, also had spontaneous elements. Anger at the video motivated the initial attack. Dozens of people joined in, some of them provoked by the video and others responding to fast-spreading false rumors that guards inside the American compound had shot Libyan protesters. Looters and arsonists, without any sign of a plan, were the ones who ravaged the compound after the initial attack, according to more than a dozen Libyan witnesses as well as many American officials who have viewed the footage from security cameras….

There is no doubt that anger over the video motivated many attackers. A Libyan journalist working for The New York Times was blocked from entering by the sentries outside, and he learned of the film from the fighters who stopped him. Other Libyan witnesses, too, said they received lectures from the attackers about the evil of the film and the virtue of defending the prophet.


And now we have the lead House Republican on defense matters saying that not only did the administration not drop the ball in how it handled Benghazi, but that the Republicans seem to be the ones dropping the ball on the never-ending and unnecessary investigations of Benghazi.

And an even bigger problem for Republicans is that McKeon’s admission helps Hillary Clinton immensely.

Republicans were trying to allege that the Obama administration, and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, dropped the ball in terms of responding militarily to the Benghazi attacks. Here’s GOP Senator, and possible presidential candidate, Rand Paul last September:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) suggested Tuesday that Hillary Clinton’s response to the terrorist attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, should disqualify her from serving as commander in chief.


If that White House job doesn’t pan out for Rand Paul…

While Paul didn’t name the former secretary of state by name, he said he suspected the decision not to dispatch a rescue effort to the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi was made by “a politician,” because the military would never allow something like that to happen without sending troops.


Apparently, Rand Paul’s understanding of military matters is somewhat lacking.

So kids, that “3AM call” did in fact come. And it seems it was the Republicans who had no idea how to answer the phone.

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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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