Saturday, May 18, 2013
Benghazi : Obama's Watergate?
In the last several days, the media and several Republican heavyweights have been giving free advice to the GOP House of Representatives majority and Senate minority --- get all the facts before you accuse President Obama or the Democrats of anything - don't ever use the word Watergate - don't threaten impeachment until you are sure you gave the facts to proceed. Good advice? Maybe. But the advice generally centers on the IRS. Benghazi could be the exception. Last week, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said claims that Republicans are making too much of the Benghazi affair in an effort to discredit likely Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton are false. "No, that’s the sideshow, the Hillary Clinton piece of it," Rumsfeld told NBC's Today show host Matt Lauer, who asked Rumsfeld if Republicans were stirring up the Benghazi attack to get at Clinton, a favorite among Democrats to be their 2016 candidate for the White House. Rumsfeld answered that the basic principle is : "if you’re going to put people at risk, you have to try to protect them,...The British took their people out because they knew they were at risk, and the Americans were left in, and they weren’t provided the kind of security they needed, obviously, because they’re dead." Rumsfeld added that the White House continues to hide information about warnings it received concerning a possible attack well before it actually occurred : "I think as it’s unfolding, it’s very clear that the people knew from the outset that it was not the YouTube, that it was not a demonstration" that sparked the assault, he said. "People on the ground and people in Washington have now testified to that." On Friday, Donald Rumsfeld was joind by another Washington old hand and heavyweight, Bob Woodward, who helped break the Watergate scandal as a Washington Post reporter in the early 1970s. Woodward sees a similarity between the Obama administration's handling of the unfolding Benghazi affair and Watergate. He pointed to White House laundering of its talking points after last year's attack on the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. "I have to go back 40 years to Watergate, when Nixon put out his edited transcripts of the conversations, and he personally went through them and said, 'Let's not tell this, let's not show this,'" the political author told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. "I would not dismiss Benghazi. It's a very serious issue. As people keep saying, four people were killed." In the future, Woodward said, the government should forego talking points. Talking points, as we know, are like legal briefs. They're an argument on one side. We need to get rid of talking points and they need to put out statements or papers that are truth documents." Meanwhile, Woodward believes the IRS targeting of conservative groups, while a serious issue, but doesn't yet rise to the level of Watergate. "It’s a big mess, obviously. I know there have been these comparisons to Watergate. I would say not yet." Earlier this week, Carl Bernstein, Woodward's reporting partner on the scandal that brought down Richard Nixon, called the third scandal currently surrounding the Obama administration - the seizing of Associated Press reporters' phone records - "outrageous." Even if President Barack Obama did not know about the details, he knew of the policy, Woodward said. ~~~~~ Dear readers, it is always imperative to have as many facts as possible whenever serious charges are being levied. President Obama deserves facts - even if he may have erred on the side of ignoring the facts in Benghazi. But, he does not deserve the chance to doctor, edit or conceal the facts. He should cooperate fully with the congressional investigations. He should give all the evidence in the White House's possession. He should order every other executive department - State, Defense, CIA, other intelligence and diplomatic groups - to do the same. Barack Obama has crossed his own red line of sorts concerning Benghazi. Barack Obama has made the same mistake Richard Nixon made. It is too late for him to say, 'I didn't know and I have fired those who did know and acted wrongly.' AND a piece of good advice for the President. Get personal legal counsel now...do not rely on the Attorney General or on yourself. You are a lawyer and you know the old axiom: "A lawyer who has himself as a client is a fool." It is now time for President Obama to cooperate fully and openly in the hope that he still has a sufficient reserve of good will among the American people and their Congress to survive.