Since when has it become appropriate to profit from the violent deaths of four Americans in the service of our nation to raise money for political coffers? Since when has it become appropriate to use emails obtained illegally by a central European criminal hacker, operating from a Russian server and the subject of a federal indictment in a cyber attack against former U.S. officials, to impugn the integrity of a U.S. Secretary of State and her sources? Apparently when you are a Republican on the House Select Committee on Benghazi -- the latest inquiry into the faux scandal the Republicans keep trying to exploit for partisan advantage.
The territory into which the Republicans have strayed is starkly unpatriotic. Their use of purloined information undermines our ability to act and react in a dangerous world and provides comfort to our enemies; it weakens our diplomacy by forcing our envoys to be more risk averse lest they become pawns in a domestic political farce; and it discourages private citizens with specific and relevant information from sharing it with our leadership.
Republicans who have embarked on this path should wear "I Heart ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Putin" buttons in their lapels in lieu of the ubiquitous American flag pins because that is whose interest they are serving with this charade. Ambassador Chris Stevens and his colleagues who made the ultimate sacrifice are surely turning over in their graves, even as the ghost of Joe McCarthy lurks in the offices of the Republican leadership. Truly, have they no sense of decency, no shame?
The Benghazi tragedy has already been the subject of seven different Congressional investigations and an Executive branch inquiry, all of which have debunked the Republican meme of dark conspiracies to cover up alleged wrongdoings. Each has concluded that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue. In other words, the State Department, the CIA and the military all acted properly in the face of a brutal enemy ambush on an isolated U.S. outpost in a hostile environment.
When American military bases are overrun, the national response is to mourn the fallen and celebrate their service to country. But when that base happens to be an installation run by the State Department whose Secretary is Hillary Clinton, the Republican response is to launch a witch hunt, all the while refusing to accept responsibility for not providing the funds requested by the State Department precisely to protect against such an attack.
I didn't know Ambassador Stevens, though his colleague former SEAL Glen Doherty, who was also killed in the attack, and I served together on the Advisory Board of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. Stevens joined the State Department during the Gulf War of 1990-1991, a time when the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait was under siege by Iraqi troops. We at the Embassy in Baghdad where I was the acting Ambassador were evacuating foreigners from the war zone, securing the safe passage out of Kuwait for our besieged diplomatic colleagues, and negotiating the release of hundreds of Americans and others taken hostage by Saddam Hussein.
The performance of our embassies in Kuwait and Baghdad in extraordinarily difficult circumstances was a source of inspiration to the Foreign Service, much like the courage of Embassy hostages in Teheran in 1979-80 had been to my generation of diplomat. It was also a reminder that ours can be a very dangerous business -- more than twice as many ambassadors than generals have been killed by hostile action since World War II. Chris knew that-we all do -- when he joined and was not in the least deterred. He embraced the risks as have so many before, and since. There is no scandal in his having been killed in action. The scandal is in the exploitation of his death to enhance the political reputations and fatten the campaign chests of extremists who operate as if our nation's capital were hostile territory and the opposition political party the enemy. I am confident that most of my fellow Foreign Service Officers share my disgust and outrage at these poseurs.
I do know Hillary Clinton, Tyler Drumheller, and Sidney Blumenthal and have read some of what was sent to the Secretary. The emails clearly provided Secretary Clinton with some timely and useful information. Any good leader welcomes solid information to evaluate from a diverse array of sources. That is responsible behavior in the interest of our country. It should be encouraged, not attacked. Ignorance in these matters is not bliss.
In the next days, weeks and months the airwaves are sure to be flooded with selective leaks from anonymous sources trying to weave a nefarious conspiracy from whole cloth to condemn what is a sound and historic practice of officials and informed citizens. So-called investigative reporters and commentators bidden by the Republican staffers on the Benghazi Committee will outdo each other in presenting innuendo as fact, as they already have, and truth will once again have to play catch up.
Those who continue to foist this fraud on the American people have put their loyalty to party above loyalty to country, while our real foes watch from the sidelines, amused by how easy it is to subvert our democracy. They have so many crass simpletons, so many "useful idiots," as Lenin put it, to manipulate.