Two weeks ago, the House Intelligence Committee released its report on the 2012 Benghazi attack. It came to the same conclusion as three other House committees–the White House did not mislead the public about the 2012 attack on the American embassy in Benghazi. You would have thought this would have ended the “what about Benghaazi?” whining and hand-wringing on the fringe, right?
Well, you thought wrong. On Wednesday, Trey Gowdy (R-S. C.), the chairman of the House select committee investigating the attacks, gave his formal answer to the calls to end this madness. It came in the form of his opening remarks at the second hearing his committee has convened since its formation. Gowdy said that there are a lot of unanswered questions about what happened that night even in the face of the Intelligence Committee report. For that reason, he said, “we should not move on” until those questions are answered–and he intends to get those answers by holding at least three hearings after the start of the new year. He harrumphed that many of those calling for an end to the nearly three-year windmill-tilting expedition to find evidence of wrongdoing by the Obama administration in the aftermath of the killings didn’t think anyone should be looking into the attacks in the first place.
I wonder if he’s willing to say that to the faces of the two relatives of the four victims who let it be known back in May that they opposed the committee’s formation.
Granted, House Speaker John Boehner may have signaled that the expedition would continue when he reappointed Gowdy as chairman of the special committee just three days after the Intelligence Committee released its report. But even with that to consider, Gowdy’s statement is simply breathtaking. He gave a good indication that this was coming when he referred to the charge sheet against Benghazi suspect Ahmed Abu Kattalah, who is charged with providing material support to terrorism.
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To Gowdy’s mind, there was something fishy about this, since in the days after the attack, the White House “edited out and changed” the word “terrorist”–without mentioning what was changed. As Salon’s Simon Malloy points out, Gowdy was throwing a bone to the tea party with this statement–an audience that will continue to believe, no matter what the evidence, that there was some funny business at the White House.
Gowdy was a federal prosecutor and a local district attorney (or “solicitor,” as DAs are called in South Carolina), and came under fire this spring when he indicated that his committee’s investigation will be a lot like a trial–but one in which the Obama administration has already been found guilty. While he seemed to back down from this sentiment, it looks like that was just for the cameras. At Wednesday’s hearing, Gowdy dropped any pretense that this investigation is anything other than a witch hunt when he declared that he was more than willing to “ask a question twice.” I wonder–would Gowdy be able to get away with that in court if he asked a question twice after it has been definitively answered?
I have an idea why Gowdy and the other Republicans on the panel–Susan Brooks of Indiana, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Mike Pompeo of Kansas, Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia, Peter Roskam of Illinois and Martha Roby of Alabama–are keeping this charade up. Based on the Cook Partisan Voting Index, Roskam’s district has a PVI of R+4, making him the only committee member who is even theoretically in danger of being ousted by a Democrat. The others represent districts with PVIs of R+9 or worse.
When you represent a district that red, you don’t have to fear being held accountable at the ballot box, so you can act as extreme as you please. Gowdy himself is the prime example of this. He represents a congested-red swath of South Carolina’s Upstate centered around Greenville and Spartanburg, it has a PVI of R+15. In 2010, he ousted his predecessor, Bob Inglis, in the Republican primary–the real contest in this district–after branding him as too moderate.
To my mind, the fact that this disgraceful episode will continue is yet another argument for getting state legislatures out of the redistricting business. The longer you have a system where a substantial majority of congressional districts are drawn so that the minority party cannot possibly win, the longer we’ll have to deal with partisan witch hunts like this.
Darrell Lucus, also known as Christian Dem in NC on Daily Kos, is a radical-lefty Jesus-lover who has been blogging for change for a decade. Follow him on Twitter @DarrellLucus or connect with him on Facebook.