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Hullabaloo


Saturday, October 24, 2015

 
Playing by different rules

by digby

The right knows this and they don't care. The media should be more circumspect:

According to Republicans, Benghazi remains a burning issue because they claim there are unanswered questions about accountability, and Clinton sits at the center of those questions. Never mind that Clinton has already accepted responsibility for the attack and report after report has found no evidence of administration malpractice. Conservatives insist there's more territory to mine because Democrats must be held accountable for the deaths of four Americans -- over and over again.

Obviously, many of the same, far-right forces chasing Clinton today were much less interested in holding Jeb Bush's brother accountable for the security failings of 9/11. (In fact, they tried to blame Bill Clinton.)

Following that historic attack, there weren't years worth of partisan blame games played like with Benghazi today. Instead, a single joint Congressional inquiry into the intelligence failures was formed. In addition, a bipartisan 9/11 commission was created over the objections of the Bush White House. The commission was routinely stonewalled by the White House and denounced by conservative commentators who remained unfazed by unanswered questions. In April 2004, Sean Hannity, currently obsessed with Benghazi, claimed the 9/11 commission had "been politicized." Days later he doubled down: "I don't have any faith in this commission. I think it's become politicized. I think it's a farce."

And then there was Reagan and Beirut. Here's how that American nightmare played out.

On April 18, 1983, Islamic terrorists attacked the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. As PBS explains, "Sixty-three people were killed, including 17 Americans, eight of whom were employees of the Central Intelligence Agency, including chief Middle East analyst Robert C. Ames and station chief Kenneth Haas."

Five months later local terrorists struck again. During a lengthy air assault from nearby artillerymen, two Marines stationed at the Beirut airport were killed.

Then on October 23, the Marines' Beirut barracks cratered after a 5-ton truck driven by a suicide bomber and carrying the equivalent of 12,000 pounds of TNT exploded killing 241 Americans, marking the deadliest single attack on U.S. citizens overseas since the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. (Fifty-eight French paratroopers were also killed in the Beirut blast.)

One year later on September 20, 1984, came the bombing of a U.S. Embassy annex. Located in Aukar, northeast of Beirut, a truck bomb exploded killing 24 people, two of whom were U.S. military personnel.

So, in less than 18 months under Reagan, several hundred Americans were killed by four separate terrorist attacks in and around Beirut targeting American outposts. And note that after the fourth attack, which killed two Americans, Reagan refused to curtail his re-election campaign for even one day, even though he enjoyed an insurmountable lead in the polls.

What was the Congressional response after the terror attack that killed 241 U.S. servicemen? With the House controlled by Democrats, did they demand years and years of redundant, finger-pointing investigations?

No.

Congress created a single fact-finding commission. Two months after the barracks attack, the commission finished its work and concluded there had been "serious command and intelligence failures and said that the mission was not prepared to deal with the terrorist threat at the time due to a lack of training, staff, organization, and support."

Recommendations were made and then implemented. "Rather than trying to blame the Reagan administration, the Democrats in both houses worked with their Republican colleagues to fix the problem," wrote Lawrence Korb, who served as assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration.

There are many links to all that, here, if you are interested.

And, by the way, Reagan "cut and ran" after that attack, just FYI. Which was the right thing to do. But let's just say that if the shoe were on the other foot ...