Can Benghazi committee shed light on U.S. violence?

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oday, the House Select Committee on Benghazi is going to convene again, after 30 congressional committee hearings that have been held on the rampage in Benghazi, Libya, that left our ambassador and four other Americans dead in 2012. When the final report on Benghazi is completed, sometime in 2016, it will be the longest congressional investigation in U.S. history.

 Might I suggest the House Select Committee redirect their efforts to how the killing of Americans happens, on an even bloodier scale, right here in America, nearly every couple of months? Or is mass killing just part and parcel of life in the United States of America these days, and, what, we just have to accept it? That’s what Jeb Bush meekly told reporters: “Stuff happens,” after the recent college campus massacre in Oregon.

More assertively, Donald Trump told reporters we should arm more people. According to him, “If you had more guns you’d have more protection because the right people would have the guns.” 

How is he so sure about that? He might want to first consult with the Select Committee on Benghazi on how it’s working for the Libyans with everybody running around over there with a gun. Would you really want your kid in a college classroom surrounded by 18- to 22-year-olds all packing  loaded 44s with, perhaps, a couple of assault rifles propped up against the good professor’s lectern? Would that make us all feel more comfortable, or might we feel more like we live in a failed state, like Libya? 

As a social science experiment, let’s just arm everybody in Donald’s town of New York with a 9-millimeter and see if the right people come out on top. Maybe Donald’s campaign motto should be, instead of a chicken in every pot, a 9 mm in every hand to stand your ground on. 

I hope the Select Committee on Benghazi can get back to us pronto on what they’ve learned about violence erupting in a failed state. Because after all the time and expense they’ve put into examining the Benghazi violence, they should be able to shed considerable light on the matter and whether Trump’s idea of putting more guns in the hands of people, without background checks, is really such a great idea.

But wait — it’s come out in the news, now, that the Select Committee on Benghazi wasn’t about investigating the Benghazi violence at all. It was really all about diminishing Hillary Clinton’s viability as a candidate in 2016. That’s right; that’s right out of the horse’s mouth of Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who helped spearhead the committee and whose recent admission to that fact has cost him the House Speakership. His fellow House Republicans are furious over his letting the cat out of the bag. Now, a former investigator for the committee, Major Bradley Podiska, alleges he was fired for resisting pressure to just focus his investigation on Clinton. 

Isn’t hijacking Congress’ power to conduct investigations into matters of profound national interest, in order to engineer desired political outcomes, a criminal act? It’s certainly House rot, brought on by fundamental moral rot. 

What’s really hard to get the mind around, in the face of 5,000 American lives lost and tens of thousands of wounded and maimed American soldiers, together with the hundreds of thousands of dead and shattered Iraqi lives, because of the Iraq War, is that there hasn’t been one congressional day spent investigating how and why it happened. Against that, what a monumental farce the Benghazi probe really makes of us before the world.

That’s the warped dimension of the sad matter Democrats, themselves, can’t speak to: that President Obama turned his back, in the profoundly misguided cause of being forward looking, on investigating and prosecuting those responsible for the unnecessary and illegal war in Iraq. Now, to behold the Obama Administration being kicked in the teeth over the tiny blip of Benghazi, after having given the likes of George Bush and Dick Cheney one huge pass on the bloody mayhem they instigated in Iraq, is really to view ourselves as having failed on all sorts of profound levels.

I believe President Obama especially failed the moment. By properly investigating and prosecuting those responsible for the Iraq War, he could have rededicated the nation, like Lincoln did at Gettysburg, to the principles for which it stands. Had he done so there likely would be no Republican Congress today and, thus, there would have been sensible gun control legislation which certainly would include meaningful background checks on gun purchases as well as a ban on assault weapons. Certainly there would have been no farcical Select Committee on Benghazi. The institutions of our governance would not be crumbling before our eyes. Our nation would have, once again, recaptured the moral imagination of the world. That’s what the struggle between the West and Middle East is over.  President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in jail for war crimes would have gone a long way in getting us on moral high ground: That’s where ultimate victory, in dealing with terrorism, will be found. 

Sadly, instead, the beat of becoming ever more like Benghazi, Libya, goes on. As Cher said in “Moonstruck,” “snap out of it,” my country; for the sake of my precious grandchildren, I pray.   

Tim O’Leary is a longtime Homer resident and political observer.

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