The Republican lawmakers, in their outbursts, alternated between scolding the State Department officials for hiding behind classified material and blaming them for disclosing information that should have been classified. But the lawmakers created the situation by ordering a public hearing on a matter that belonged behind closed doors.
Republicans were aiming to embarrass the Obama administration over State Department security lapses. But they inadvertently caused a different picture to emerge than the one that has been publicly known: that the victims may have been let down not by the State Department but by the CIA. If the CIA was playing such a major role in these events, which was the unmistakable impression left by Wednesday’s hearing, having a televised probe of the matter was absurd.
Chaffetz’s and Issa’s outbursts ensured that the base in Benghazi would become a high-priority target, as the CIA is frowned upon by Al Qaeda terrorists and others.
Another point. The question of how much obvious security there was at the compound becomes rather interesting now that Chaffetz has informed us that this was actually a CIA station. I could imagine that the CIA might not have wanted a massive contingent of Marines based at the “consulate and ‘annex’,” lest it signal to the bad guys that this was not simply a backwater “consulate and ‘annex’.” But the administration couldn’t give that response while Mitt Romney and the House Republicans were berating them for supposedly not having more security at the station, they couldn’t explain that maybe we didn’t want the extra security because it might have signaled that there was actually a CIA operation underway.
Sounds like it’s time for a hearing about the hearing.