On the Senate floor earlier today, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) took a moment to try her darndest to throw the still-unfolding Benghazi saga back in the oh-so-hyper-partisan Republicans’ faces:
Now, there’s a lot of talk going on about, “How could this happen?” and e-mails and all the rest. Let me focus on something very important: It takes funding to protect an embassy. It takes funding to protect a consulate. It takes funding to protect an outpost. Yes, it takes funding. Who cut the funds from embassy security? The Republicans in the House, that’s who. Hundreds of millions of dollars, and if it wasn’t for the Democrats it would have been cut more… I think the Benghazi “scandal,” end quotes, starts with the Republicans looking in the mirror. “Mirror, mirror, who’s the fairest of them all?” They ought to ask, “Mirror, mirror, who cut the funding for diplomatic security across this world for America?” The answer: Republicans. They cannot stand the heat, so they turn it on Secretary Clinton, and that is completely wrong.
Er… nice try at reviving an old-and-busted attempt to turn this debacle back on those obstructionist Republicans, but no. For one thing, the issue here wasn’t the available funding, but the prioritization of the available funding (the State Department miraculously has enough money for Chevy Volts [which the Obama administration also heavily subsidizes!] and charging stations at certain embassies, but not adequate security at others?); for another, as Andrew Johnson highlighted at NRO, a State Department official confirmed in testimony last October that more money would not have prevented the attacks, via the Daily Beast at the time:
In testimony Wednesday before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Charlene Lamb, a deputy assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, was asked, “Was there any budget consideration and lack of budget which led you not to increase the number of people in the security force there?”
Lamb responded, “No, sir.”
Recall that Lamb is the person who denied requests from the top diplomatic security officer in Libya to retain a 16-man team of military personnel who had been protecting diplomats.
The real issue here, of course, is both the specific failures that led to the deaths of four Americans and the wider failures of a poor Middle-East foreign policy, and the administration’s subsequent and shoddy attempt to save face on both counts in the dwindling weeks before a presidential election — not the availability of the funding that the State Department chose to allocate otherwise.
And speaking of Benghazi, get ready for another Congressional hearing, this one with the authors of the recently much-debated Accountability Review Board report to which the White House has been referring questions over the past several months, via the AP:
The leaders of the panel that independently reviewed the attack last year in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans have agreed to testify publicly before Congress to counter what they consider unfounded criticism of their work.
In a letter to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, veteran diplomat Thomas Pickering says he and former Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen will answer any questions lawmakers have.
Pickering calls criticism of the Accountability Review Board “unfounded.” He says he and Mullen stand by its findings.