When it comes to congressional leadership, history will never mistake Harry Reid for Robert Byrd. That would be like going from the ridiculous to the sublime at the speed of light.
Now comes a new chapter in the embarrassing annals of Harry Reid: the Benghazi cover-up. By abetting this scandal, Senate Majority “Leader” Reid takes his already lousy legacy to an agonizingly new low.
In an affront to American fair-mindedness past and present, he says the discovery of an Obama administration email is nothing to worry about. Move along. No further questions need be asked of the September 2012 al-Qaida assault on an American diplomatic mission in Libya.
Shame on him. This email shows that before the bodies of those four slain Americans were cold, President Barack Obama’s people were creating a fog to obfuscate what happened that night in Benghazi.
Consider this: Nearly two years later, we still don’t know where President Obama was during the crisis. We also don’t know why he jetted to Las Vegas the next morning, looking rested and relaxed, for a meaningless campaign rally. That lack of transparency and deflection has continued up to today.
The quintessential Team Obama nose-thumbing attitude on Benghazi came last week from former National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor, who was asked about the infamous talking points memo in the aftermath of the terrorist attack.
“Did you change ‘attacks’ to ‘demonstrations’ in the talking points?” Bret Baier of Fox News asked Vietor.
“Maybe, I don’t remember. Dude, that was like two years ago.”
And, dude, who can forget Hillary Clinton’s double-talk before Congress:
“With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator. Now, honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this, but the fact is that people were trying in real time to get to the best information.”
It is evident, however, that what the Obama administration was doing in “real time” was not getting out the “best information,” as Clinton said, but spinning information to mislead the people.
To further deepen the deception, it looks like the White House willfully buried that email when Congress was investigating the foreign policy debacle.
For Sen. Reid to treat these most serious revelations as an attempt to “rekindle debunked right-wing conspiracy theories” goes to show how horrible his leadership of the Senate has become.
The email surfaced when a nonprofit watchdog group filed a Freedom of Information Act request. But it did not emerge when Congress tried to get to the bottom of the Benghazi attack.
The email at issue came from Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, and went to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s spokesman and President Obama’s spokesman, Jay Carney. It articulates the desire to blame the Benghazi attack on a spontaneous protest over an Internet video — not a planned terrorist attack.
This was bogus as it relates to Benghazi, and the White House knew it. Yet Obama, Clinton and their spokesmen repeated it over and over again for a full week.
Why? One possibility: The election was less than two months away, and the president’s campaign needed Benghazi to not be a terrorist attack. A second possibility: the administration bungled security in Benghazi and the response to the attack so badly that they needed cover.
Whatever the reason, they spun the truth then. And they hide the truth now.
When Reid calls it a political conspiracy theory, he does the bidding of an inept administration that is in full Nixon-style cover-up mode. If Reid were a legitimate check on power instead of a spooning partner for the executive branch, he’d demand — partisanship be damned — why that email didn’t surface when Congress asked for it.
Byrd would have. Lyndon Johnson, too. But sadly, for a government that needs honest checks and balances, not Harry Reid.
Sherman Frederick, former publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and member of the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame, writes a column for Stephens Media. Read his blog at www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/sherman-frederick.