Here is the story. A country in the Middle East was having a civil war, with moderates on one side and extremists on the other. The president ordered Americans to take up a position in a major city. But he and his subordinates did not provide for adequate protection for these people. There was an attack by people upset with the U.S. and Americans died.
Am I describing Benghazi in Syria? No, I am describing Beirut in Lebanon.
After shelling Lebanese villages that were reputed to hold Islamist extremists, President Ronald Reagan ordered the deployment of Marines to Lebanon, a total of 1,800. Some of these Marines were barracked in a building near the airport. A truck bomb driven by a suicide bomber crashed the gate and attacked the building, killing 241 U.S. personnel, including 220 Marines.
The troops were housed in a building. There was no effective perimeter defense.
When I attended Infantry Basic Training at Fort Ord, California, in 1951, one of the first things we were taught was: “Don’t bunch up.” This principle was violated big time in Beirut.
I do not recall a select committee being formed by the House of Representatives to investigate the loss of life in Beirut, the largest one day loss of American Marines since Iwo Jima.
In a much smaller attack in Benghazi, four American citizens were killed, including an Ambassador who decided on his own to visit the Benghazi Consulate, and three more people who were probably CIA agents.
The State Department had previously seen the budget request for defense of embassies slashed by the same Republican-dominated House of Representatives that now is holding yet another hearing to “get to the bottom” of this tragedy. But the Republicans in Congress are being very disingenuous about this goal.
If this select committee were to find out all the facts about the attack and answer all the questions that have been raised, then they would have no reason to hold more hearings about this relatively small attack. Many hearings have been held already. Testimony has been heard. But with the increasing success of Obamacare and improving economic numbers, Benghazi is all they have left to talk about.
Now the Republicans are considering issuing a subpoena to the current secretary of state, John Kerry. This is just a calculated insult. The secretary of state is the third highest ranking member of the administrative branch of government, ranking just below the vice president. You don’t subpoena such a high official; you invite him to appear. That has always been the custom. And John Kerry was not secretary of state when the attack occurred. Former Secretary Clinton has already testified at length.
The current investigation is centered on who wrote what talking points when. Nailing down that set of facts will not result in any useful legislation, which is what the House of Representatives is supposed to produce.
The Republicans have blocked raising the minimum wage to a modest $10.10, a move that besides helping those at the bottom of the ladder would increase economic activity, increase tax revenues and reduce the use of food stamps. They refuse to consider it even though a majority of Republican voters are for it.
They refuse to take up an immigration bill that has already passed the Senate and that would also have a positive effect on the economy. Again, most Americans, including most Republicans, are for it.
A majority of America’s millionaires think that millionaires should pay more taxes. No Republican legislator has even addressed that question.
The current Republicans in both the House and the Senate have lost all credibility due to these issues and many others. It is time to vote them all out of office, including the lone Maryland member whose district includes part of Carroll County.