The Washington Post, in an editorial called “Benghazi debunked,” claims that the House Intelligence Committee has “dump[ed] cold water on the GOP’s conspiracy theories” regarding Benghazi. The Post cites three alleged “GOP conspiracy theories:” (1) that the White House tried to obscure the fact that al Qaeda-linked terrorists were behind the attacks, (2) that stand-down orders were issued to those who were in a position to aid the compound, and (3) that the CIA was using the facility to run guns to Syria.
The second of these theories isn’t a conspiracy theory at all. To my knowledge, no one has claimed that a stand-down order, if issued, was part of a conspiracy to cause harm to U.S. personnel. The third theory never had sufficient currency to be called a “GOP conspiracy theory.”
This leaves one “GOP conspiracy theory” — that after the attacks, the administration made false claims in order to prevent political damage. And contrary to the Post’s editors, the House Intelligence Committee did not “debunk,” or claim to debunk, this view.
As I discussed href=”http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/11/the-house-intelligence-committees-benghazi-more-than-fair.php”> here, the Committee found that the statements made by Susan Rice on multiple television news programs were not true. The question thus becomes whether Rice, or some of those in the administration who contributed to the talking points Rice saw before making her incorrect statements, acted in bad faith.
The Intelligence Committee made no findings one way or the other on this highly-charged question. Instead, it ducked questions of motivation and bad faith on the part of Rice and others in the administration.
Why doesn’t the report address these matters? For two reasons. First, as I understand it, the Republican and Democratic members couldn’t reach agreement on them. Second, from the standpoint of its jurisdiction, the Intelligence Committee didn’t need to opine on the behavior of Rice and others outside of our intelligence services.
The Republicans could have issued a report that lacked the concurrence of committee Democrats. But they were aware that the Benghazi matter isn’t closed. Trey Gowdy’s committee presumably will reach questions pertaining to the motivation of Susan Rice and others in the administration. That being the case, it seemed reasonable to issue a report with bipartisan support that at least puts it on record that Rice’s statements were untrue and that the process that produced the “talking points” was flawed.
Committee Democrats also made a reasonable calculation. They figured that the liberal media would use a report that didn’t condemn Rice and others in the administration as a basis for claiming that Rice has been cleared, and that Benghazi has been “debunked.
Liberal media outlets, including the Washington Post editorial board, have not disappointed the Democrats. They rarely do.