The consequences, however, are worse than the manipulation of the electoral process. By using Benghazi for political advantage, the Republicans have communicated to global militants that, through even limited attacks involving relatively few casualties, they can potentially influence the direction of American elections. The Republicans sent that same message after the Boston Marathon bombing, where they condemned Obama for failing to—illegally—send the American perpetrators to Guantánamo, among other things. They slammed the president because federal law enforcement agents read the failed underwear bomber his rights after they arrested him in 2009. Never mind that federal agents did the exact same thing under President George W. Bush when they arrested the failed shoe bomber years earlier. Republicans even lambasted Obama when he spoke about ISIS decapitating journalists, saying the president did not sound angry enough.
But there is an enormous difference between politicizing tragedy and using the levers of government to achieve that goal. Put simply, the transformation of the Benghazi attacks into a political drama now serves as one of the most dangerous precedents in American history, one whose absurdity and irrationality can be seen just by reviewing the past. This single Benghazi committee has been “investigating” the attack for longer than Congress conducted inquiries into Pearl Harbor, 9/11, Iran-Contra, Watergate and intelligence failures in Iraq.
In fact, no previous assault on a diplomatic outpost has received this kind of relentless expression of congressional outrage. There weren’t investigations that were anything on this scale about the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in 1983 (63 killed), on the U.S. Embassy annex northeast of Beirut in 1984 (24 killed) or on the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, in 2008 (18 killed). Republicans didn’t believe these exact same scenarios that took place under Republican presidents merited similar zeal to dig down to some unexposed, imaginary “truth.”