House GOP descends into conspiratorial madness

IssaBackgroundSo Darrell “Grand Theft Auto” Issa is still conducting his witch hunt into the Benghazi talking points — talking points. Considering that this witch hunt is a produced by Roger Ailes of FAUX News, I suppose it is not surprising that the focus is on inconsequential talking points, Ailes’ speciality.

The stock and trade of the conservative media entertainment complex are conspiracy theories. It is what animates the right-wing noise machine and its pitiful partisans.

“Grand Theft Auto” got embarrassed on Thursday by House’s Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), who had quite enough of Issa’s sideshow. House GOP Chairman Scoffs At His Own Party’s Benghazi Witness:

The Republican head of the House’s Armed Services Committee issued a statement sharply criticizing the testimony of his own party’s star witness in the latest hearing on Benghazi only minutes after the session concluded, going against his colleagues’ enthusiasm to hear just what the Obama administration did wrong the night of the attack.

Air Force Brigadier General Robert Lovell (ret.) was the key witness at today’s hearing, the latest in a string of inquisitions from Oversight Committee chair Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) into Benghazi since the 2012 tragedy. During his testimony, Lovell raised eyebrows by insisting that the U.S. did not try to save the Americans stationed in the eastern Libyan city. “The discussion is not in the ‘could or could not’ in relation to time, space and capability, the point is we should have tried,” Lovell, who served at U.S. Africa Command’s headquarters in Germany the night of the attack, told the panel.

Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), however, took issue with the contents of Lovell’s testimony, issuing a release dismissing the suggestion that the military could have acted to halt the attack in time to save lives. “I appreciate the service of Brigadier General Robert Lovell and his willingness to testify,” the release from McKeon, chair of the Armed Services Committee, reads. “He confirmed what my committee has understood for some time, that the military never believed this was a protest gone bad, and that the President fundamentally failed to posture our forces respond to any emergency in the weeks before 9/11.”

“Beyond those confirmations, BG Lovell did not serve in a capacity that gave him reliable insight into operational options available to commanders during the attack, nor did he offer specific courses of action not taken,” the statement continues. “The Armed Services Committee has interviewed more than a dozen witnesses in the operational chain of command that night, yielding thousands of pages of transcripts, e-mails, and other documents.”

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The House Armed Services Committee report released in February made waves for being the first of the Republican-led investigations into the attack and its aftermath that absolved the military of acting improperly during the assault. “Given the military’s preparations on September 11, 2012, majority members have not yet discerned any response alternatives that could have likely changed the outcome of the Benghazi attack,” the report concludes. The same document also contradicts the idea, deeply entrenched on the right, that any sort of “stand-down” order was given to the military urging them to not respond to the assault.

“In the end, while BG Lovell did not further the investigation or reveal anything new, he was another painful reminder of the agony our military felt that night; wanting to respond but unable to do so,” McKeon’s statement concludes.

House Democrats have for weeks now been pleading with the Republican leadership to drop the issue of Benghazi in favor of more pressing issues.

“House Republicans have no health care bill. They have no immigration bill. They’ve passed no jobs bill. They won’t consider extending unemployment benefits or raising the minimum wage or fighting for pay equity or investing in infrastructure or taking climate science seriously or even tackling a compromise on debt reduction. Since Republicans took over the House, Congress’ ability to actually pass laws has slowed to levels unseen in modern times.”

Steve Benen gets it exactly right with his caption, What conspiratorial madness looks like:

Over the last 18 months, the deadly attack in Benghazi has been investigated by the independent State Department Accountability Review Board, the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Senate Armed Services Committee, the House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the House Armed Services Committee, the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

How many of them uncovered evidence of a cover-up? None.

And so far-right lawmakers said what’s really needed is a special, brand new committee. For months, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) resisted these calls, content to leave the matter in the hands of the existing committee chairs. This morning, it appears Boehner changed his mind.

Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio established a special committee to investigate the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, according to a senior leadership aide.

The news comes the same day House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa subpoenaed Secretary of State John Kerry, aiming to compel him to testify before Congress about the administration’s response to the attack.

“The new emails released this week were the straw that broke the camel’s back,” an aide in Boehner’s office told Roll Call.

In reality, the “new emails” only confirmed what was already known and offered nothing in the way of new information.

This, in a nutshell, is what conspiratorial madness looks like.

Remember, the materials that “were the straw that broke the camel’s back” are effectively meaningless.

Ultimately, the new e-mails do little more than buttress what has been known for a year about the immediate communication among the Obama team as it rushed to cobble together talking points from the information it had to feed to Rice, who was only asked late in the day Friday to be the White House mouthpiece.

Dave Weigel added that in order to take the “smoking gun” argument seriously, “you need to forget the previously-known” information that’s already part of the public record. Indeed, conspiracy theorists should feel discouraged, not emboldened – the “new” information Republicans are so excited about “reveals nothing new.”

But Congress has decided it wants a new committee to tackle the work that’s already been done by other committees. Your tax dollars at work.

You may recall that the New York Times published what is arguably the most comprehensive examination of the events that took place leading up to the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi. The six-part, multimedia report was not only the most exhaustive account of the tragedy published by a major news organization, it was also completely apolitical. It refuted all the right-wing crazy land conspiracy theories.

Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid blasted the GOP for its descent into conspiratorial madness. Reid Statement On Republicans Putting Conspiracy Theories Before the Middle Class:

“Republicans are showing yet again that they have nothing to offer the middle class. Republicans care more about defending billionaires like the Koch brothers and trying to rekindle debunked right-wing conspiracy theories than raising the minimum wage or ensuring women receive equal pay for equal work.

“There have already been multiple investigations into this issue and an independent Accountability Review Board is mandated under current law. For Republicans to  waste the American people’s time and money staging a partisan political circus instead of focusing on the middle class is simply a bad decision. While Republicans try to gin up yet another political food fight, Senate Democrats will remain focused on fostering economic growth for all hard-working Americans.”

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