By Brigitte L. Nacos
Of all the so-called “scandals” within the Obama administration, “Benghazi-Gate” remains and will remain the one the GOP and their Tea Party wing love to exploit most for their never-ending attacks on President Obama. This May, some eight months after the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, former Vice-President Richard Cheney told Sean Hannity of FOX News, “I watched the Benghazi thing with great interest, Sean. I think it’s one of the worst incidences, frankly, that I can recall in my career.”
Either Cheney has lost his marbles or he is confident that everyone else has. He was, after all, in the White House on September 11, 2001, when terrorists struck in New York and Washington killing close to 3,000 victims. He was the mastermind of the cooked intelligence that led to the invasion of Iraq, the death of thousands of American troops and far more Iraqi civilians, and repeated attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Bagdad.
Plenty of the “worst incidences” on Cheney’s watch.
Indeed, as far as terrorist attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions abroad are concerned, the record of the Bush/Cheney administration is extensive and deadly. Yes, the deaths of four Americans, among them Ambassador Christopher Stevens, was a tragedy. But there were at least twelve terrorist attacks against U.S. diplomatic missions during the Bush/Cheney years apart from those in Bagdad with a total of 62 persons killed and at least 64 injured.
Here are the most deadly attacks during that period:
Karachi, Pakistan, June 14, 2002: Suicide bomber believed to be linked to Al Qaeda strikes the U.S. Consulate, killing 12 and injuring 51.
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, December 6, 2004: Al Qaeda members storm the U.S. Consulate killing nine people.
Karachi, Pakistan, March 2, 2006: Suicide bomber attacks the U.S. Consulate killing four people, including U.S. diplomat David Foy who seemed the particular target of the perpetrators.
Damascus, Syria, September 12, 2006: Gunmen shouting "Allahu akbar" attack U.S. Embassy with grenades, automatic weapons, a car bomb and a truck bomb. Four people were killed, 13 wounded
July 9, 2008. Istanbul, Turkey, July 9, 2008: Four terrorists attack the U.S. Consulate. Six people are killed
Sana'a, Yemen, September 17, 2008: Terrorists dressed as military officials attack the U.S. Embassy with an arsenal of weapons including RPGs and detonate two car bombs. Sixteen people are killed, including an American student and her husband.
None of these incidents or the other six attacks against U.S. missions abroad resulted in criticism of the Bush/Cheney White House, State Department, or other parts of the administration by Democrats or Republicans. The same members of Senate and House who are now keeping the Benghazi conspiracy theories alive remained silent then.
Cheney has been relentless in attacking Barack Obama. In February 2009, he said in an interview, there was a “high probability” that terrorists would attempt a catastrophic nuclear or biological attack in coming years, and that he feared the Obama administration’s policies would make it more likely the attempt would succeed.
But in his May appearance on FOX, he did not single out the president but drew a larger circle of targets when he said: “They lied. They claimed it was because of a demonstration video, that they wouldn’t have to admit it was really all about their incompetence. They ignored repeated warnings from the CIA about the threat. They ignored messages from their own people on the ground that they need more security. They reduced what was already there.”
“They lied,” he said not mentioning former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by name. But you can be sure that his finger pointed in her direction.
Others are more direct in their attacks. Most of all Karl Rove who has aired an American Crossroads ad that blames Clinton as principal in the Benghazi “cover-up.”
So, the real and lasting target of “Benghazi-Gate” procedures and accusations and speculations in the Congress and on Tea Party sites and in social media posts is and will remain Hillary Clinton—just in case she decides to run in 2016.