For whatever reason, Washington DC has a bizarre culture of failing to get the entire story out. There’s a belief in popular culture that the federal government attempts to conceal as much of the truth as possible and only puts out what the public wants to hear.
This needs to be avoided with Benghazi. The whole truth has to come out. There is too much conflicting information. The Pentagon appears to be blaming the State Department. The State Department blames the CIA and the White House. The CIA appears to blame the Defense Department, the White House and State Department. The White House has been noticeably silent. A special investigation team needs to look into which information is true and which isn’t.
Capitol Hill doesn’t always appear interested in doing this. It seems more interested in keeping the status quo and avoiding accountability as much as possible.
This probably started with the Warren Commission looking into the assassination of President Kennedy, but the best example is the Watergate investigation. That was shut down after President Ford pardoned President Nixon to get the case over with as quickly as possible. Ford was hoping to keep Nixon’s name from being dragged any further through the mud. It may have been noble reasoning, but was ultimately irresponsible.
It also set a dangerous precedent the presidency has been willing to go along with time and time again. In the Iran Contra scandal, President George H.W. Bush pardoned Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger before he could go up to trial. In the end, only Oliver North and John Poindexter were tried and convicted. Both convictions were thrown out on appeal and independent counsel Lawrence Walsh declined to continue the investigation.
During the Whitewater scandal, both Bill and Hillary Clinton were able to avoid charges. President Clinton was later impeached for lying under oath, but that related to the Monica Lewinsky affair. A part of the failure of the Whitewater investigation could be because ex-Arkansas Governor Jim Guy Tucker, Webster Hubbell and Susan McDougal refused to cooperate with Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr. Clinton later pardoned McDougal. Another part is the decision by the Clintons to fight the Whitewater investigation tooth and nail, instead of cooperating with it. Starr’s successor, Robert Ray, admitted he was pressured to come up with a deal with President Clinton so he wouldn’t be indicted further.
These examples make it seem like there’s no accountability in the White House. Instead, it shows presidents are willing to use their political positions to either protect themselves, their friends or their previous bosses from accepting responsibility.
Congress is no better.
During the investigation into Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson, Congress criticized the Justice Department for their “aggressive raid” on Jefferson’s office. Wisconsin Congressman James Sensenbrenner wanted to hold hearings on whether the FBI had trampled on the Constitution for their actions. Jefferson was later convicted of bribery and sentenced to 13 years in prison.
After Peter Schweizer’s fantastic 2011 book on insider trading in Washington DC called “Throw Them All Out,” Congress was criticized for not passing strong enough insider trading prevention laws. Schweizer himself criticized the SEC for not indicting any members of Congress during the hearing on the law. Congresswoman Maxine Waters was able to avoid ethics charges for helping OneUnited Bank get money from TARP. These are examples of members of Congress deciding not to police themselves and hold each other to the highest standard possible.
These types of situations do nothing to end the notion that Washington politicians are more interested in protecting their own, instead of working for the people who elected them.
The good news is there are people in Congress who want the truth to get out. California Congressman Darrell Issa, South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy, Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul have all been at the forefront of the Benghazi situation demanding answers. This is a good thing. Their calls for an investigation even have House Speaker John Boehner demanding answers. There need to be more people like Issa, Gowdy, Chaffetz and Paul willing to do this.
Congress has to investigate the situation involving Benghazi, regardless of who wins the presidency. Ignoring it would deny the truth not only to the families of the four killed but also the American people, who have been lied to.