Republicans are returning to their attacks on Hillary Clinton as the 2016 presidential election inches closer. This time Republicans are going back to the attacks in Benghazi in an attempt to soil the name of the former Secretary of State.
Earlier this week, House Republicans created a committee to investigate the events of September 11, 2012 when four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens were killed during an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Highlighting the already partisan feel, the panel consists of 12 members, titled in favor of Republicans 7-5. South Carolina GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy has been picked to chair the panel and says he will be impartial.
Though Republicans say the investigation into Benghazi isn't political, most can see the reality of the situation. With the 2016 presidential election two and half years away, Republicans have quickly gone on the attack against the Democrat front runner, Hillary Clinton. While Clinton hasn't formally announced her intention to run, the general consensus is that if she wants it, the nomination is hers.
Republicans have been defeated by a Clinton before, actually twice, once 1992 and in 1996 when President Bill Clinton was elected and reelected to the White House. Clinton was the Secretary of State during the attacks in Benghazi and after an “Accountability Review Board" and eight separate congressional committees looked into the attacks, Republicans are still not satisfied with the results. If Republicans can continue to soil the name of Clinton over the next two years, it could prove to be her Achilles heel headed into the election.
Even if Benghazi was simply a tragedy rather than the Republican proposed scandal or cover up, the GOP has continued to beat the proverbial dead horse and it could have an affect on swing and independent voters. If this is the case, how will Hillary Clinton retaliate? Republicans have stuck President Obama and Hillary Clinton with the label of intelligence failure, but Clinton could easily turn the tables on her conservative counterparts.
During the presidency of Republican George W. Bush, from January of 2001 until January of 2009, there were 13 attacks on U.S. consulates resulting in 60 deaths. Of the 13 embassy attacks, no Republican caused an up roar or even made a peep. The first attack on an embassy under George W. Bush occurred on January 22, 2002, just one year after he was elected. The militant group Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami attacked the U.S. consulate in the Indian city of Calcutta. Five police offers were killed and 16 others were injured. Other consulates in Karachi, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia just to name a few were attacked over the next eight years, including three times during Bush's last year in office. The most deadly attack on a U.S. compound under George W. Bush would happen on May 12, 2003 when 36 people, including 9 Americans, were killed after terrorists attacked the U.S. compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Outside of the 13 embassy attacks under Bush, one must continue to scratch their head when Republicans speak of an intelligence failure. Under the "watchful" eye of "Dubya," the United States was attacked on September 11, 2001 by radical Islamic terrorists. Less than one month before the attacks, on August 6, 2001, the White House and George W. Bush, while vacationing on his ranch in Texas, received a classified intelligence memo titled, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” Intelligence failure? Sounds like one.
The intelligence failure comment could come back to haunt Republicans even further after it came to light that the main reason the United States invaded Iraq in 2003 was all based on bad intelligence. Weapons of Mass Destruction, or WMDs, were never found in Iraq even after the president spoke clearly in front of the American people and told them that they were there.
Rewinding the clock even further back to 1983 and the administration of the conservative golden boy, Ronald Reagan shows even more intelligence failures. Radical Shiite suicide bombers approached the U.S embassy in Beirut on April 18, 1983 which resulted in the deaths of 63 people. Reagan stood his ground, didn't act and the ramifications were even more deadly. On October 23, 1983, suicide bombers detonated two truck bombs in separate buildings in Beirut, Lebanon. The Beirut barracks bombings ended with 241 American military men and 58 members of the French military being killed. Following the bombings, President Reagan pulled all troops out less than four months later.
Republicans can place the death of four Americans at the doorstep of Hillary Clinton if they choose to, but if that's their biggest weapon heading into the next presidential election, they should prepare to be on the losing end once again. Hillary Clinton and other Democrats should simply give the American people and the Republican party a history lesson on foreign policy, intelligence failures and what happens when bad decisions are made.
No one is perfect and every administration, Republican and Democrat have made mistakes and will continue to do so moving forward. But for a political party like the Republicans to make accusations over an attack in Benghazi when their own recent history is far worse just reeks of political desperation and it's a smell that could sour their chances at the White House in 2016.