It's Cheney Time on Benghazi
During a heated exchange on the Senate floor back in June 2004, Vice President Dick Cheney famously told Vermont Democrat Pat Leahy, "f**k yourself." Looking back on the episode six years later, Cheney told Fox News that he had no "qualms, second thoughts, or embarrassment" about his Leahy outburst, because "I thought he merited it at the time."
By that standard, it's Cheney time for President Obama's scandal-mongering critics on Benghazi. That is, it's long overdue for the 97 GOP Congressmen, Republican Senators McCain, Graham and Ayotte, and the usual suspects among the Bush administration's thoroughly discredited national security team to hear that Dick's familiar message loud and clear.
The list of conservatives trying to turn the Benghazi tragedy into an inquisition against the President and his UN Ambassador Susan Rice is a very, very long one. Here are just some of the F-bomb recipients who merit it at this time.
John McCain. A man known for delivering expletives, even to his Republican colleagues, now needs to be on the receiving end of some. After all, McCain didn't merely declare he would oppose Susan Rice or any other nominee for Secretary of State and insist the Libya attack was worse than Watergate. As the record shows, John McCain has been consistently--and disastrously wrong--on Iraq, Afghanistan and almost every other national security issue for more than decade.
Paul Wolfowitz. One of the architects of the invasion of Iraq, Wolfowitz' lasting contribution to posterity will be his casual rejection of General Eric Shinseki's January 2003 warning that the occupation would require "several hundred thousand soldiers." His claim that Shinseki was "wildly off the mark" was, well, wildly off the mark. Despite Wolfowitz' disgrace, he reemerged last week to blast the Obama administration over Benghazi:
Congress should stay focused on the policy mistakes leading up to the Benghazi attack, the question of the commander-in-chief's role the night of the attack, and the misleading claims afterwards that this terrorist attack was a response to an anti-Muslim video.
Donald Rumsfeld. Wolfowitz' boss as the Defense Department needs to get the Cheney talk, if not an introduction to the "stress positions" he advocated for terror detainees. The man who defended the chaos and carnage he helped unleash in Iraq by claiming "you go to war with the army you have" and "stuff happens" because "freedom's untidy" has also returned to attack President Obama. Last month, Rumsfeld announced it "has got to be embarrassing" for Ambassador Rice to have been wrong about the intelligence on Benghazi and accused the Obama administration of "a lack of competence and the responsibility" for the deaths of the four Americans in the consulate attack.
Liz Cheney. It's time, too, for a little father-daughter talk. After all, it took her less than 24 hours after the killings to declare that "apologizing for America, appeasing our enemies, abandoning our allies and slashing our military are the hallmarks of Mr. Obama's foreign policy." But before she pronounced Benghazi "one of the worst cover-ups, probably in the history of the republic," she might have paused to reflect on her family's record. After all, it wasn't just her dad who went after Joe Wilson, lied to the press when he claimed a meeting of 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta with Iraqi intelligence in Prague was "pretty well confirmed" and declared in 2005 that the insurgency in Iraq was in its "last throes." A fervent supporter of her father's regime of detainee torture, Liz Cheney in March 2010 slandered the supposed "Al Qaeda 7" lawyers in what she called the "Department of Jihad."
The GOP 97. Last week, almost 100 House Republicans sent President Obama a letter denouncing Susan Rice as "having either willfully or incompetently misled the American public in the Benghazi matter." But before they accused her of having ""propagated a falsehood," they should have looked in the mirror first. After all, the 97 feature some of the most notorious mythmakers in the GOP, including Birther Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Allen West (R-FL), who once claimed there are "about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party."
Tucker Carlson. When it was revealed last week that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper edited the talking points on Benghazi used by Ambassador Rice, Daily Caller publisher Tucker Carlson was among the conservatives who had a new conspiracy theory:
"I hate to think that the director of National Intelligence lied, is a liar. But I'm not sure I see an alternate explanation. Apparently, he's contradicting what he testified to just last week. Is there another explanation for this?"
As it turns out, Tucker Carlson is quite familiar with accusing intelligence officials with lying. When the CIA revealed that Valerie Plame was in fact a covert agency operative, Carlson in his all-out defense of Scooter Libby was having none of it:
"CIA clearly didn't really give a shit about keeping her identity secret if she's going to work at f**king Langley...I call bullshit on that, I don't care what they say."
Ari Fleischer. George W. Bush's former press secretary has been on the frontlines of the GOP's Benghazi hysteria, often turning to Twitter to issue his attacks on the President. For example:
"For Bush critics who say he lied about WMDs, is Obama lying about Benghazi? Or is intelligence info sometimes wrong?"
Of course, there is that third category, where the President and his allies--like Ari Fleischer--continue to lie about the Iraq war. As Fleischer put it in March 2009:
"After September 11th having been hit once how could we take a chance that Saddam might strike again? And that's the threat that has been removed and I think we are all safer with that threat removed."
Darrell Issa. The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has played a major role in the Benghazi investigation. Major, that is, by accidentally revealing classified information during committee hearings in October. Nevertheless, the same man who accused Valerie Plame of perjury and suggested the families of Blackwater private security personnel killed in Fallujah had someone else write their statements explained his worries to Greta Van Susteren of Fox News:
VAN SUSTEREN: Are you suspicious that it's incompetence in terms of getting that -- or misinformation and confusion? Or do you think it's a coverup?
ISSA: Greta, I'm concerned for both. If it's a coverup, then it's bad policy and bad politics coming right out of the Oval Office. If, on the other hand, it's incompetence and it's bad leadership over four years or more, something that President Bush prided himself on -- love President Bush or not, he focused -- and Vice President Cheney focused on improving our security footprint for our men and women here and around the world. That's important. We need to maintain that competence. I hope we can turn it around. That way, I hope it's not actually politics with American lives.
Of course, playing politics with American lives is precisely what George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and their colleagues did for 8 years. After all, President Bush didn't merely respond "all right, you've covered your ass now" to the CIA analyst who briefed him on "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." or claim that Saddam Hussein's WMD could be the "smoking gun that takes the form of a mushroom cloud" or later insist the United States invaded Iraq because "we were attacked." Hoping to deflect the bloodbath in Iraq that would kill thousands of U.S. troops and wound tens of thousands more, Bush offered this pathetic defense on August 30, 2004:
"Had we had to do it [the invasion of Iraq] over again, we would look at the consequences of catastrophic success - being so successful so fast that an enemy that should have surrendered or been done in escaped and lived to fight another day."
Of course, there is no such thing as "catastrophic success." That's just another, oxymoronic name for failure. And despite having produced, defended and lied about their failure throughout the Bush presidency, its authors and apologists are on the warpath against President Obama over the Benghazi attack. If the roles were reversed, Dick Cheney would no doubt offer his famous two-word response.