Well, the big Benghazi hearings have finished up for the day, and as near I can tell we learned.....nothing. We heard testimony about the following:
- The Pentagon didn't dispatch fighter jets to patrol Benghazi following the initial attack.
- A 4-man special ops team was stationed in Tripoli, but wasn't dispatched to Benghazi the morning after the attacks to help with rescue and evacuation.
- In interviews on the Sunday after the attacks, Susan Rice said things that contradicted Libyan President Mohamed Yusuf al-Magariaf.
None of this is even remotely new. The Pentagon has said before that they believed it was best for the Tripoli team to stay in Tripoli.1 General Carter Ham has testified that he didn't think deploying F-16s over Benghazi would be helpful, and he still doesn't. And Rice's interviews were litigated to death long ago. If you actually review the evidence, it turns out that her language was careful; it was based on CIA talking points; there was (and maybe still is) evidence that the "Innocence of Muslims" video played a role in the attacks; and al-Magariaf was almost certainly wrong about whether the attacks were a long-planned operation. Details here.
All of this stuff is arguable. Maybe the Pentagon was wrong about both the Tripoli team and the fighter jets. Maybe Rice should have said something slightly different on the Sunday shows. Maybe the State Department should have beefed up security in Libya months before the attacks. Maybe the infamous talking points got sanded down a bit too much by the interagency review process. That's all possible.
Was Benghazi mishandled? Maybe. Are there lessons to be learned? Probably. Is there a scandal or a coverup? There's never been any evidence of it, and there still isn't. This is a show that goes on and on without end, but it never delivers a payoff. Issa and his colleagues need to start paying more attention to stuff that actually matters, and give up on the Fox-friendly conspiracy theories that never pan out. Enough's enough.
1Hold on. I might be thinking of something else here. It's not clear if the Pentagon has addressed the deployment of this particular team before. Regardless, this is solely about a tactical decision made after the attacks. A different team from Tripoli was dispatched earlier and arrived in Benghazi shortly before the final mortar attack.