By Robert Weiner and Gabrielle Snowden
House Democrats on the special Benghazi Committee have released a 345 page "Minority Report" accusing Republicans of "political motivations." The majority Republicans, under Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-Greenville), followed by issuing the majority report on on what could have and should have been done to avoid the four deaths before and after the attack.
Donald Trump is repeatedly bringing up Benghazi as a key talking point against Hillary Clinton. He recently stated, "Ambassador Stevens and his staff in Libya made hundreds of requests for security. Hillary Clinton's State Department refused them all"... She "lied about a video being the cause of his death"" "When the phone rang at 3 o'clock in the morning, she was sleeping"... "She couldn't wait to rush us off to war in Libya."
Since Trump openly says these arguments will be used throughout the election, it is time to defuse myths and call in facts. However, Democrats simply accusing Republicans of partisanship will not be persuasive. Here are five substantive points Clinton could use.
1. Clinton's budget requests for embassy security were rejected by the Republican Congress.
Clinton's State Department budget requests for embassy security funding were ignored by congress until after Benghazi. The GOP-led congress cut the State Department's requests for security by $300 over three years, and still place the blame for low security on Clinton. Glenn Kessler, in The Washington Post on October 30, 2015, reported that Paul Ryan's proposed budget for 2013 of $1.94 billion dollars fell short of the Administration's request of $2.15 billion, which followed budget cuts of 2011. Kessler states that "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that Republicans' proposed cuts to her department would be 'detrimental to America's national security."
The Benghazi hearing of Oct 22, 2015 did not investigate the poorly funded budget. Cong. Ed Royce, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair, stated in his press release on August 1, 2013, that "this bill " fully funds the Administration's embassy security request" -- a YEAR after the Benghazi attacks. It is clear that the only reason they finally met "full funding" was because they were embarrassed about Benghazi.
2. Hillary didn't lie--The anti-Muslim video released before the attacks was indeed a basis for the terrorist attack.
On September 14, 2012 Clinton said, "We've seen rage and violence directed at American Embassies over an awful internet video [Innocence of Muslims]." Despite Republican efforts to delegitimize her claim, the riots and rallies across the Middle East in protest of the video were also occurring in Benghazi. David Kilpatrick found for the New York Times on December 28, 2013, that the "Innocence of Muslims" video was viewed widely by Islamists in Libya and that there were calls to protest. Kilpatrick wrote, "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." The motivation was BOTH terror and the video.
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