President Obama yesterday dismissed the House investigations into the Benghazi debacle as a political “side show.”
In a news conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron, the President complained testily that nothing new had been uncovered in last week’s hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
“The whole issue of talking points throughout this process has been a side show,” Obama said. “Suddenly three days ago this gets spun up as if there is something new to the story. There’s no there there.”
Obama’s remarks were reminiscent of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s comment, “At this point, what difference does it make?”
The problem is that, had the Obama Administration’s handling of the aftermath of the Benghazi affair been forthright and transparent, congressional committees and journalists would not still be digging away to get to the bottom of the talking points debacle.
The talking points issue blew wide open last week after it was revealed that they had been through 12 revisions before being delivered by the hapless U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice on the Sunday talk shows. Had the Administration, including the President himself, not repeatedly blamed a ridiculous YouTube video for the attack, all the while knowing better, we would not be having this discussion today.
Instead, we could have been having a conversation about really important issues: what kind of terrorist threats the nation is facing today, how we respond to murders of U.S. diplomats, and how we can minimize the risk to U.S. personnel stationed overseas.
In yesterday’s news conference, Obama stated that there are plenty of State Department personnel willing and eager to risk their lives to go overseas and that security is absolutely adequate. The credibility deficit of the White House at this time is such, however, that Congress has no choice but to pursue further hearings to determine whether this is true.
The news is that next in line for more House hearings are the heads of the Benghazi Accountability Review Board, Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Admiral Mike Mullen, and possibly even Hillary Clinton again. Congress should keep digging until it is satisfied that U.S. diplomats and military personnel posted overseas receive all the protection they deserve.