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The GOP's Benghazi Witch Hunt

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You don't need a degree in political science to know that the House Republicans' latest "investigation" of Benghazi is a political witch hunt.

It was clear before the Republican chairman of the new Select Committee on Benghazi suggested he wants to put the administration on "trial."

It was clear before the House GOP rejected House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's offer to have a fair panel with equal representation from Republicans and Democrats.

It was clear well before the National Republican Congressional Committee and top Republicans began fundraising off this tragedy.

Ever since the tragic attacks in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012 -- which claimed the lives of four Americans and wounded two others -- it has been obvious that the GOP's obsession with Benghazi has never been about getting to the truth of what happened or preventing future attacks against U.S. personnel overseas.

Republicans have only one goal: to turn this tragedy into a scandal. Their relentless campaign to use the events in Benghazi to score cheap political points ahead of the midterm elections is appalling.

Over the last 20 months, the facts and circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2012, attacks have received unprecedented scrutiny:

• 9 different House and Senate committees have already investigated the attacks
• 17 hearings have been conducted
• 50 briefings have taken place
• 25 transcribed interviews have been conducted
• 8 subpoenas have been issued
• more than 25,000 pages of documents have been reviewed
• 6 congressional reports have been released

But, dissatisfied with the results of these exhaustive reviews, the GOP has now decided to create an openly partisan panel with only one goal: to further politicize this tragedy.

Here's one thing we know this new Select Committee won't be investigating: The budget cuts that House Republicans made to security at our embassies, consulates and diplomatic posts around the world -- cuts that Republicans have actually boasted about making.

Here's another thing the GOP won't be investigating -- the tragedy and scandal of more than 4,000 Americans killed in the Iraq War based on phony intelligence.

Between 1998 and 2013, there were at least 501 significant attacks against U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel in 70 countries, which resulted in the deaths of 586 people, including 67 Americans. During the Bush administration, there were 166 attacks, which killed 116 people, including 18 Americans.

Those attacks were all terrible tragedies. The difference is that we never had a political party spend years exploiting them for political gain.

I remember serving in the House back in 1983 when a truck bomb exploded outside the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 241 American service members. It was the deadliest attack on Marines since Iwo Jima, and it came just six months after 17 Americans were killed in the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.

Tip O'Neill was the House speaker at the time. But rather than launching a partisan witch hunt that focused on President Reagan, the House conducted bipartisan oversight and produced a completely bipartisan report.

Unfortunately, Republicans never intended to conduct a fair review of the facts in the Benghazi attacks. Blinded by their anger at President Obama, they ignore the fact that he called the attacks "acts of terror" the day after they occurred. And in their mad dash to discredit former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, they never mention that she was the first person to convene an independent investigation of the attacks.

That investigation -- by a nonpartisan Accountability Review Board chaired by Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Admiral Michael Mullen -- reviewed the facts and detailed the systemic problems that undermined security in Benghazi. The State Department quickly accepted all 29 of the report's recommendations, and both former Secretary Clinton and now Secretary Kerry have worked diligently to implement them.

The Senate Intelligence Committee also produced a bipartisan report -- based on dozens of committee hearings, briefings and interviews -- that highlighted the need to better respond to security threats against our diplomatic posts and personnel around the world.

But instead of focusing on protecting Americans serving abroad, Republicans prefer to obsess over "talking points" prepared for a Sunday show. They pretend to have a "smoking gun" when they don't even have a leaky water pistol. The truth is that nothing in the thousands of documents released has even remotely suggested an attempt to cover up what happened in Benghazi.

The New York Times had it right last week when they wrote:

"They won't pass a serious jobs bill, or raise the minimum wage, or reform immigration, but House Republicans think they can earn their pay for the rest of the year by exposing nonexistent malfeasance on the part of the Obama administration."

The Republicans' kangaroo court on Benghazi isn't just a waste of taxpayer dollars -- it's a national disgrace.