The perpetual investigation

On Sept. 11, 2012 the US diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya was attacked, resulting in the death of four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Today former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton is back on Capitol Hill, testifying before yet another congressional panel convened to investigate the tragedy.

To date there have been eight separate congressional investigations of Benghazi, together spanning nearly two-and-a-half years. The first hearing was convened on May 8, 2013 by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which was dissatisfied with the report issued by the State Department’s own Accountability Review Board, questioning the ARB’s independence and integrity.

The most recent investigation began 17 months ago, in May 2014 when the House Select Committee on Benghazi was formed. God knows when it will wrap up its work. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, the chairman of the committee, says there are 20 more witnesses yet to be called.

From the beginning, Congress’ investigations have been dogged by accusations that they have been less about getting to the bottom of what happened in Benghazi and more about: 1) embarrassing President Obama in the lead up to the 2012 presidential election; and 2) undermining Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for president in 2016. Some Republicans have even admitted as much.

Just how unprecedented is the Benghazi investigation? Well, the nearly three years and counting that have supposedly been devoted to learning what happened on that night in 2012 is far longer than a whole bunch of other investigations, like the one into the attack on Pearl Harbor (9 months), or the Kennedy assassination (10 months), or the Beirut Marine barracks bombing (6 weeks), or even 9/11 (21 months).

But don’t take my word for it. Follow the links below and see for yourself.

  • Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack — Sept. 11, 1945 – June 20, 1946. 9 months to investigate and issue final report on the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese surprise attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
  • Warren Commission — Nov. 29, 1963 – Sept. 24, 1964. 10 months to investigate and report on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
  • Holloway Commission — May 1980 – August 1980. 3 months for a commission appointed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to investigate and report on the failed Iran hostage rescue mission, Operation Eagle Claw, which resulted in the death of eight US service personnel.
  • DOD Commission on Beirut International Airport Terrorist Act of 23 October 1983 — Nov. 7, 1983 – Dec. 20, 1983. 6 weeks to investigate and report on the terrorist truck bombing of the US Marine barracks at Beirut International Airport which killed 241 US military personnel.
  • Investigations Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee — Nov. 1983 – Dec. 19, 1983. 6 weeks to investigate and report on the terrorist truck bombing of the US Marine barracks in Beirut.
  • Tower Commission — Nov. 26, 1986 – Feb. 26, 1987. 3 months to investigate and report on the CIA’s illegal covert program to sell weapons to Iran and funnel the proceeds to the anti-communist Contra rebels in Nicaragua.
  • House October Surprise Task Force — Feb. 5 1992 – Jan. 13, 1993. 11 months to investigate and report on allegations that the Reagan campaign had conspired with the Iranian government to delay release of American hostages in order to deny President Carter a boost in the polls in the final weeks leading up to the 1980 presidential election.
  • 9/11 Commission — Nov. 27, 2002 – Aug. 21, 2004. 21 months to investigate and issue its final report on the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 which killed more than 3,000 Americans.

So has the Benghazi investigation devolved into nothing more than a partisan witch hunt designed to politically damage Clinton? Decide for yourself. For my part, I’ll take House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s word for it:

Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought.