The attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi in 2012 is a tragic page in the long war against Islamic terrorism. It is unfortunate that this incident that caused four deaths, including that of Ambassador Chris Stevens, is being exploited today as an election tool.
Republicans, among many allegations surrounding this incident, accuse the White House of politically manipulating the attack to adapt it to its election strategy, of managing the narrative so that it would not hurt President Obama’s re-election.
Meaning, they accuse the administration of doing what the House of Representatives is doing now; appointing a special committee to, basically, investigate everything involving Benghazi.
Obviously, the eight legislative committees that already held hearings on this issue and the Accountability Review Board appointed by the State Department have not been enough. That is why the speaker of the House appointed a GOP-majority special committee led by Tea Party-aligned Rep. Trey Gowdy.
This lawmaker already used the Benghazi issue for fundraising outside Washington. Republican strategists hope that the hearings keep the incident alive until the November elections, mobilizing donations and the conservative vote. In addition, it all points to hurting a potential 2016 presidential run for Hillary Clinton, since she was the secretary of state during the attack.
Undoubtedly, Benghazi was a blow for the White House, which was counting on re-election based on its success against al-Qaida and specifically the death of bin Laden. We think that there was political maneuvering. However, it was far from being Watergate and was no worse than the maneuvers of the Bush-Cheney White House regarding terrorism.
The authority of Congress to launch legislative inquiries is a powerful weapon to keep an eye on the executive branch. It also, like in this case, lends itself to being misused as a campaign tool.