The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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June 4, 2014

My View: GOP stirs Benghazi pot for politics

On April 18, 1983, a suicide truck bomber attacked the U.S. Embassy in Beirut killing sixty-three people including 17 Americans; on Oct. 23, 1983, a second suicide bomber struck in Beirut, killing 241 U.S. Marines. The congressional investigation ordered by Speaker “Tip” O’Neill recommended major security improvements.

Eighteen months later, on Sept. 20, 1984, a third attack occurred in Beirut, killing 24 people at the U.S. Embassy.

It turned out that the security measures Congress directed had not been completed. Ronald Reagan’s explanation was a version of, well, stuff happens: “Anyone who’s ever had their kitchen done over knows that it never gets done as soon as you wish it would.”

In the interim, five more people were killed in the Dec. 12, 1983, attack on the American Embassy in Kuwait.

Under George W. Bush, sixty people died at U.S. missions overseas, including 16 U.S. diplomats, from attacks at Kolkata (Calcutta), Islamabad, Istanbul, Tashkent, Damascus, Saudi Arabia, and two each in Sana’a and Karachi. There were no Congressional investigations.

There have been 521 attacks on U.S. missions abroad since 1970 — roughly one per month — according to State Department figures. Of the 500 Americans who died in dangerous parts of the world in recent decades — plus 4,500 Americans who died in Bush’s Iraq fiasco — Republicans seem obsessed only about the four victims who died in Benghazi, Libya: eight congressional committees have already conducted thirteen hearings.

House Speaker John Boehner has convened yet another investigation — a “trial” the chairman called it — to determine whether violent protests were “rooted in an Internet video, not a failure of policy,” as administration talking points declared. The video in question was “The Innocence of Muslims,” made by an Egyptian Christian extremist in California. One Republican after another has declared the explanation a lie.

An Internet search shows photos of riots or demonstrations in Cairo, Gaza City, Kashmir, Kuwait, Istanbul, Mombasa, Jakarta, Doha, Khartoum, Dhaka, Yemen, Iraq, India, Tunisia, Teheran, Kabul, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Lebanon, Jordan, and many other cities around 9/11. Maps posted by the Atlantic and others show dozens of protests around the world that night.

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