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Republicans’ Benghazi hysteria makes them look partisan and foolish

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The Washington Post editorial board, which is not always as liberal as some conservatives seem to think it is, makes good sense in THIS CASE:

Republicans and conservative media obsessed with what they regard as the Obama administration’s scandalous coverup of the nature of the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, last Sept. 11 have offered a shifting series of allegations. First they charged that U.N. Ambassador Susan E. Rice “willfully or incompetently misled the American public” when she appeared on news programs Sept. 16 and described the attack as having emerged from a spontaneous demonstration against an anti-Muslim video.

When it was established that Ms. Rice was simply repeating talking points [above] prepared by the intelligence community, Republicans claimed that the guidance must have been subjected to political doctoring by a White House determined to avoid describing the assault as an terrorist attack….

So why were those points eventually edited? The e-mail record shows that the State Department raised objections for several reasons. Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland pointed out that the CIA was proposing to have members of Congress put out information, such as the reporting about [Islamist militia group] Ansar al-Sharia, that State had withheld on the grounds that it was unconfirmed and might prejudice an investigation. She also worried that the references to warnings “could be abused…to beat the State Department for not paying attention.” As all in the bureaucracy knew, State believed this would be unjust because the Benghazi mission was largely a CIA operation and was under the protection of a CIA security force, though that had not been publicly disclosed.

(Snip)

By focusing on the phony issue of the talking points, Republicans are missing the opportunity to press for needed reforms at State and a more active U.S. policy in the Middle East. They should also be spurring a sluggish FBI investigation to determine who really organized and led the attacks in Benghazi; it has yet to be established whether they were ordered by local jihadists, terrorists linked to al-Qaeda or someone else, and whether they were planned because of the Sept. 11 anniversary or inspired by the events in Cairo.

Instead, with their bigger-than-Watergate rhetoric, the GOP’s scandal-pushers are making themselves look small-minded, hyperpartisan and foolish.

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The Los Angeles Times editorial board also NAILS IT:

The furor over the Benghazi talking points continues. Republicans still see them as the main event in a campaign to embarrass President Obama. The president, for his part, calls them a “sideshow.” Finally, on Wednesday, the White House released more than 100 pages of internal emails that showed, in excruciating detail, exactly how the talking points were edited — and the emails, at least to our reading, supported the president’s characterization…

Republicans and other critics have made much of the fact that an early version of the talking points specifically mentioned participation in the attack by “Islamic extremists with ties to Al Qaeda” and referred to five previous attacks on Western interests in Benghazi. Those passages were cut from the final version — proof, critics say, of a conspiracy by administration officials to disguise, for election-year purposes, that the attacks were a premeditated terrorist operation.

But the documents released Wednesday suggest other explanations for the changes. For example, a State Department official worried that language about past security threats might be cited by members of Congress, who would “beat the State Department for not paying attention to agency warnings.” And the specific reference to Al Qaeda appears to have been removed out of fear of compromising a Justice Department criminal investigation.

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