Fair use image courtesy of bartcop.com.
The White House is on the defensive as three stories are inundating political news: The Benghazi hearings, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) targeting conservative groups and the Department of Justice (DOJ) seizing two months of Associated Press (AP) reporters' phone records.
On Sunday, the president and chief executive officer of the AP, Gary Pruitt, called the phone records seizure "unconstitutional" and said the news cooperative has not ruled out legal action against the DOJ. Senate Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell said the same day that the IRS controversy amounts to a "culture of intimidation."
In a House Judiciary Committee hearing last Friday, Attorney General Eric Holder referred to Rep. Darrell Issa's (R-CA) behavior as "shameful." The day before, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pointed out that there was no outrage "when groups on the other side of the political spectrum were under attack."
Pruitt, McConnell, Holder and Reid may have good points. Republicans, Democrats and Independents should be outraged if Americans abroad are not given adequate security, the IRS is being used to target political enemies and the DOJ is being used to stifle freedom of the press. It is only fair, however, that both parties are treated equally by lawmakers, government officials and the media -- and that has not been the case.
The shameful behavior of lawmakers, government officials and the media in the recent "scandals" work both ways. Both lawmakers and the corporate media fail to acknowledge is that there is a double standard at work. The Obama administration is being chastised for the same things that were overlooked during the Bush administration yet refuses to take higher ethical ground by continuing to violate constitutional rights and continuing a disastrous foreign policy.
The events at Benghazi were horrific, but so were the events at the 13 diplomatic compounds that were attacked during the Bush administration. Here is a list of those:
- January 22, 2002. Calcutta, India. Gunmen associated with Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami attack the US Consulate. Five people are killed.
- June 14, 2002. Karachi, Pakistan. Suicide bomber connected with al-Qaida attacks the US Consulate, killing 12 and injuring 51.
- October 12, 2002. Denpasar, Indonesia. US diplomatic offices bombed as part of a string of "Bali Bombings." No fatalities.
- February 28, 2003. Islamabad, Pakistan. Several gunmen fire upon the US Embassy. Two people are killed.
- May 12, 2003. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Armed al-Qaida terrorists storm the diplomatic compound killing 36 people including nine Americans. The assailants committed suicide by detonating a truck bomb.
- July 30, 2004. Tashkent, Uzbekistan. A suicide bomber from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan attacks the US Embassy, killing two people.
- December 6, 2004. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Al-Qaida terrorists storm the US Consulate and occupy the perimeter wall. Nine people are killed.
- March 2, 2006. Karachi, Pakistan (again). Suicide bomber attacks the US Consulate killing four people, including US diplomat David Foy who was directly targeted by the attackers. (I wonder if Lindsey Graham or Fox News would even recognize the name "David Foy." This is the third Karachi terrorist attack in four years on what's considered American soil.)
- September 12, 2006. Damascus, Syria. Four armed gunmen shouting "Allahu akbar" storm the US Embassy using grenades, automatic weapons, a car bomb and a truck bomb. Four people are killed, 13 are wounded.
- January 12, 2007. Athens, Greece. Members of a Greek terrorist group called the Revolutionary Struggle fire a rocket-propelled grenade at the US Embassy. No fatalities.
- March 18, 2008. Sana'a, Yemen. Members of the al-Qaida-linked Islamic Jihad of Yemen fire a mortar at the US Embassy. The shot misses the embassy, but hits a nearby school, killing two.
- July 9, 2008. Istanbul, Turkey. Four armed terrorists attack the US Consulate. Six people are killed.
- September 17, 2008. Sana'a, Yemen (again). Terrorists dressed as military officials attack the US Embassy with an arsenal of weapons including RPGs and detonate two car bombs. Sixteen people are killed, including an American student and her husband, whom had been married for three weeks when the attack occurred.
Total killed: 60. Number of outraged Republicans: 0. Two of the attacks in Pakistan and Yemen were repeat attacks on the same facilities, yet there were no publicized demands for increased security and little or no improvements in security at either location.
The hypocrisy of lawmakers regarding Benghazi goes even further. While both the State Department and Pentagon budgets have increased yearly, in every year since 2010, Democrats requested more for embassy security, construction and maintenance than House Republicans approved. Some of the notable Republicans that voted against increased funding are the same ones that are blaming the Obama administration and the State department for the lack of security in Benghazi: Rep. Darrell Issa and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT).
Meanwhile former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is allegedly accountable for the failure of security in Benghazi, warned on Feb. 14, 2011:
I was very clear with the Speaker about the deep concerns we have with the FY11 spending bill moving through the House floor this week. The scope of the proposed House cuts is massive. The truth is that cuts of that level will be detrimental to America's national security. "Otherwise we will pay a higher price later in crises that are allowed to simmer and boil over into conflicts.
Many argue that Benghazi is scandalous not only because of the lack of adequate security, but also because rescue teams could have reached the embassy in time but were ordered to stand down, because the American people were not immediately told that it was a pre-planned attack and because of a perceived administration effort to hide its mistakes.
Some have even gone as far as to theorize, based on an editorial penned by Admiral James A. Lyons in the Washington Times, that the Benghazi attack was a staged kidnapping gone awry, intended to be an "October surprise" by the Obama administration with hostages taken and then being freed. Lyons asserts that there were plenty of military assets available to stop the attack before the loss of American lives, which is odd considering that he was not asked to testify in either hearing.
There are four points to consider that have surfaced in the hearings on Benghazi.