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July 7, 2015

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The Policy Racket

Joe Heck: We need to know what happened in the days leading up to Benghazi attack


Rep. Joe Heck speaks to Veterans at the American Legion Post 40 in Henderson on Wednesday, June 8, 2011.

WASHINGTON — Last week’s hearings with former Central Intelligence Agency Director Gen. David Petraeus have not fully cleared the air surrounding the Obama administration’s response to September’s terror attack in Benghazi, particularly as it affects the political future of Susan Rice, the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations.

At least one Nevada representative wishes lawmakers would focus on bigger takeaways from the terrible tragedy.

“A lot of attention has been paid to what happened after the attack,” said Nevada Rep. Joe Heck, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, which was briefed by Petraeus following the attack and again on Friday. “We should be talking about whether or not anything that could have been done before, to obviate the attack, or during the attack... if we really want to take lessons learned about this, that will protect against future attacks.”

Since the election, Republicans and Democrats have been arguing over whether administration officials were completely forthcoming about what they believed caused the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that left the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other members of the diplomatic team, including one ex-Navy SEAL from Nevada, dead.

Initially, administration officials blamed an anti-Muslim YouTube video for sparking demonstrations that led to the raid on the U.S. embassy and the deaths of its personnel. But officials, including Petraeus, have since admitted that the CIA believed the tragedy was a terror attack early on. Nonetheless, while they were forming this opinion, other administration officials -- chiefly Rice -- were delivering the line about the video to the public.

“I don’t blame Ambassador Rice for the statement that she made," Heck said. "She was given talking points and she delivered them... there’s no blame to be laid for the story changing.”

Heck went on to say that his concern was more acutely focused on why it took so long for Rice and others to get the full story as it was unfolding.

“The issue is: Was the most current, up-to-date and complete information given to the American public as soon as possible, and was it given to the families of the individual that we lost?” Heck asked. “I don’t believe that the most up-to-date and and complete information was given to the American public as it was available. We understand that intelligence was an ongoing process. But the issue, for me, was: What was the timeline of the change vs. the timeline on which it was made available? Those two did not coincide.”

But right now, it does seem as though the public’s representatives are not quite ready to have that conversation.

During the presidential campaign, the administration’s line on Benghazi, and whether there was a cover-up, was a major point of contention between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. Rice has become a focal point since the election, as she is rumored to be on a short list to take over the State Department from Hillary Clinton during Obama’s second term, and would have to be cleared by the Senate for the position.

That is helping to drive the urgency around heightened Republican demands for a reckoning. This week, Republican Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelley Ayotte demanded Congress appoint a special investigative panel to look into the details of the Benghazi tragedy, alleging that the administration had at best, lied, and at worst, engaged in a conscious cover-up of what had happened.

Democrats, led by Sen. Harry Reid, have flatly refused, accusing Republicans in a letter of “partisan politicization of national security” and charging that many in the House and Senate had “misrepresented the facts...through a constant stream of falsehoods, exaggerations and leaks of sensitive material.”

Not every Republican has been as vocal in their disdain for the administration’s response to the Benghazi tragedy as McCain, Graham and Ayotte.

In the days since their call for a formal investigation, several Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, dismissed the idea of a special committee investigation, and expressed support for existing committees’ ability to conduct an official investigation.

McCain has also been roundly criticized for skipping a Benghazi briefing with the Senate’s Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee, of which he is a member, this week, on the same day as he went before cameras, demanding a special committee look into the Libyan disaster because, he said, Congress wasn’t getting enough answers from the administration.

But Heck says when it comes to the post-disaster politics, there’s really not much new to see.

The purpose of last week’s Petraeus and other intelligence briefings was to determine whether there had been major omissions or changes in what intelligence officials told Congress about Benghazi in September and what they revealed now.

“In essence there wasn’t,” Heck said.

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  1. Ah, as I gaze into my Crystal Ball, I see impeachment coming to a newscast near you soon. The guy with the Cheshire Cat grin can only lie so long and when the true story comes out, the howls for his head will grow louder and louder. Benghazi; "Fast & Furious;" General Petreaus; Obamacare; deficit spending; backing parasites, perverts & criminals; protecting liars such as Susan Rice & Eric Holder will finally bring an end to Osama Obama's reign of deceit & mismanagemnet. I, for one, will not miss the cretin!

  2. Let us momentarily set aside that Republicans ignored more attacks on American embassies and more American deaths during the Bush administration--after all, what could be "coloring" their judgment on the differences? Heh heh. Now back to seriousness. Did anyone watch Soledad O'Brien interview Joe Heckuvajobbrownie on CNN and try to figure out what he was trying to say? He didn't know, so I wondered if anybody else did.

  3. Or we could focus on stuff that actually matters like removing tax incentives for shipping jobs overseas, or comprehensive immigration reform. Maybe he could start working on passing internet gambling legislation.

  4. Enjoyed the article, Karoun.

    I just wanted to point out one thing about Rep. Heck though. A few days ago, he appeared on CNN with Soledad O'Brien talking about this issue.

    And he embarassed himself beyond imagination.

    The interview not only showed he didn't know what he was talking about, but he was all over the map so far and so wide that Soledad asked Rep. Heck to clarify some things he said, and after he gave another confusing response, Soledad essentially apologized to Rep. Heck that she couldn't follow what he was saying, that she turned to her panel of other contributors....who all essentially came forwards and stated they had no clue what Rep. Heck was trying to say.

    What happened in Libya was bad. Really bad. And it is being investigated thoroughly.

    But Tea/Republicans have decided to paint this as a testament against against President Obama, his entire administration, his policies and is clearly nothing but a Fox News generated and fueled savage and relentless right wing news media attack. An attack that is so incredibly bad that it blatantly gives off the impression they are not interested in the truth. Don't believe me? Then why was McCain in press conference saying they had no information about this...when at the same time of the press conference, he was supposed to be in a briefing about Libya? In ultra-conservative lah lah land, the rhetoric is more important than the reality.

    Rep. Heck, mindless as he has come off, has decided to join in the attack along with McCain, Graham, Ayotte and others. They all seem to not be interested in facts, just partisan politics.

    One thing should be pointed out regarding party politics and what the Tea/Republicans are doing. There is one thing that is left unsaid about all this. It has been touched upon by political experts but there is a concerted effort by the Tea/Republicans to try to throw a monkey wrench in any attempt by President Obama to appoint Ambassador Rice as the new Secretary of State.

    The reason is apparent. They want Kerry. Because that leaves an opening in Massachusetts for Brown to get back in. Wall Street is going absolutely crazy in hopes of this. Because if that happens, they will saturate dirty angry money into making him a Senator again. Wall Street loves Brown. Why? Because he does exactly what they say. Brown is in their pockets. Always has been.

    It's not about the the lives of four Americans who died in Benghazi. In Tea/Republican Land, it's politics. Nothing else.

  5. Heck has a point that our intelligence should be broader and more encompassing but I can't see any way that would happen at this time. Humint requires long term relationships with all strata of society. The United States has an unfortunate reputation for supporting elites and power brokers at the expense of ordinary folk and, even worse, has a reputation for ditching friends when the going gets tough. Our foreign policy is, notwithstanding platitudes, extremely self-centered. Those of you commenting who rail against "foreign aid' need to understand that a significant portion of government-sponsored foreign aid is spent right here in the US and never makes it overseas. The humanitarian and agricultural efforts are primarily sponsored by private organizations and individuals.

  6. Hello Colin,

    I wonder why Ms. Demirjian saw fit to completely overlook Heck's obtuseness on CNN?

  7. There are those among us who, because they are very sore losers, and have so much hate for this particular President of United States, that they will see any perceived 'failure' of the Administration as an 'OPPORTUNITY' to make some political hay...

    and while Americans should know & care about what happens in Libya or any other outpost in which we have a presence, not about THAT...

    It's ALL ABOUT political opportunity for sore loser Right-Wing politicians, & for their lemmings that sit on their ample arses in front of FOX all day and hang on every word like their hearin' the Gospel of Jesus, just a' waitin' to give em' an AMMMMEN!

    Right now, they're all SALIVATING & PANTING.

    Here's video of Joe Heck trying to make HIS political hay, to feed both himself & his herd, and looking just like a GOAT in so doing.

  8. The righties on this site make me want to puke. Their ignorance is appalling. Although the belly laughs I get from reading this drivel are absolutely tremendous. You need to talk about something you know about, not what you may think you know about.

  9. IF the administration really was with heads in the sand and unaware of the potential threats to our people, they must RESIGN and allow COMPETENT authorities to be in charge. If they were not unaware but FAILED TO ACT, they must be FIRED.

  10. I PREDICT we will find a SCAPEGOAT any day now. Clearly, Ms. Rice is incompetent. Certainly others are to blame. The Pres needs to stop inflating support for the incompetent and GET DOWN TO BUSINESS. Enough with investigations. Who was in charge? Fix THAT.

  11. On CNN, Heck was PC and did not show a bias towards anyone but he clearly want to pursue the TRUTH. Who was in charge? CHANGE that. If we allow the same Bozos to monitor Iran's development of nukes, the game is over.

  12. Thanks for the link, gmag.

    That was the Heck/O'Brien exchange I was talking about in my comment that happened on CNN.

    But what gets me is that you only need to watch this to see the complete idiocy of the attack. Heck completely and utterly made a fool out of himself.

    But those on the other side of the aisle saw something else. Something that's simply not there.

    I have a feeling that Heck will soon go the route of total mindless right wing irrelevancy like West, Walsh, Bachmann, the list goes on and on....

  13. I'm watching this unfold and appreciating that this is just a purely partisan ruse by the Republicans to put a "gate" (as in watergate) on the end of something. And I'm watching my congressman being made to look like a total fool...on national T.V. no less.
    So,I've got a suggestion for our congressman Dr. Heck. He is a Doctor, served our country admirably in uniform, has a wonderful all around decent guy who unfortunately is WED TO THE CRAZIES OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!! When was the last time a congressman switched parties in mid term? I'd love to have him a a Democrat. Seriously. His party has gone nuts. Actually, he'd be doing his Republican party a tremendous service and give them the wake up call they seriously need!

  14. I think the "coverup of epic proportions" is the Republicans trying to cover their own arses. Starting with Mitt Romney, his statements in the "47% video" that he would "seize any opportunity" to win. Then he grabs the grandstand by calling a press conference early in the morning after the Benghazi attack and making accusations against the President and the State Department before he had all the facts, and before the President spoke to the public. That made me suspicious that the Benghazi incident was a plot involving Romney, the neocons, the fundamentalist cabal in the military and intelligence agencies, along with Netanyahu's push to invade Iran. Issa's hearings and release of classified information before the election, Romney's accusation of the President during the foreign policy debate, the grandstanding this past week by McCain and Graham and other Republicans, and the disinformation and accusations they put out there in the week before the Petraeous briefing makes me even more suspicious of Republicans. As more facts are released and the investigation proceeds, their behaviour reeks of the Republicans' propensity to spin everything to their advantage. They want Scott Brown back in the Senate so they can continue their obstruction. They want more defense spending and another war, tax cuts for their rich friends, total control of the White House and both Houses of Congress, and the Supreme Court. There really is no limit to their greed and lust for power.

  15. While I agree there must be an inquiry, we all should realize that members of GOP (Tea Party faction of the GOP, Fox News, Rush, Beck, Trump, Etc.) will never be satisfied with what ever comes out of the Benghazi investigation. I guess that is the price of democracy and maybe it's a good thing.

  16. Senator Heck is again demonstrating what real leadership is--even when the inane are trying to divert attention to anything else. Maybe O. could tune in and look at the Senator's style, charm, integrity and even HOW an investigation proceeds--without pandering.

  17. A few points.

    1)."Since the election, Republicans and Democrats have been arguing over whether administration officials were completely forthcoming about what they believed caused the Sept. 11, 2012, attack ...." is not true. The Republicans have been making these charges since before the election. They were debunked then (most famously by Candy Crowley in the debate). I am at a loss to explain why the Sun reports the facts differently.

    2) Joe Heck is changing his tune since is incomprehensible babbling to Soledad Obrien on CNN.

    3) We know exactly what happened in the lead up to the attack. After deciding that protecting American lives was less important that tax cuts for the wealthy, Republicans cut funding for embassy security.