Thursday, February 20, 2014

Benghazi conclusions not surprising, considering the sources

Richland, Washington, Opinion by Frank Ellsworth Lockwood
I was, at first, incensed about reports/summaries of the House Armed Services Subcommittee concerning the terrorist attack on Benghazi, Libya in September 2012.  Then, as I read the report more closely, something became very clear: In understanding the report, one must consider the sources. In mid February the committed issued a press release that began as follows:
WASHINGTON – The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations released a comprehensive report today evaluating the response of the Department of Defense (DOD) to the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012.  
The introduction went on to note the following: 
To undertake the committee’s review, Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon directed the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations to work alongside the full committee. As a result, this report expresses the views of Chairman McKeon, Vice Chairman Mac Thornberry, Rep. Martha Roby (who was the chairman of the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee until December 2013), and ... 
Understanding the preconceptions, personal issues and financial interests of the authors will take us a long way toward understanding the biases of the report. Given those biases, the conclusions must have been a let down for many of them. Finally, I see clearly who the three interviewers were, but, who were these other people, those "five majority members" of that committee? What follows is a brief rundown of what I think I know.

Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon 


Republican, degree in animal husbandry, graduate of  Brigham Young University, former owner of a Western clothing shop that went bankrupt in 1999, past chairman of a small regional bank.

Chairman of Armed Services Committee who never served in the armed forces, supports strong national defense budget, introduced the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (of 1993, later ruled unconstitutional),. Education and defense have been his main priorities: Supported reforms in Student Loan Aid Program that helped lower student interest rates but also increased federal control over education policy. Member of the Republican Study Committee (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republican_Study_Committee)

His campaigns received greatest financial support from the defense industry and companies such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing and the California Pro-live Council.

Do you think this person's connection to the war industry could have influenced the way he interpreted the raw data coming out of the investigation? I do.

Other Items 

  • His district includes Fort Irwin, Edwards Air Force Base, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake,  and Marine Mountain Warfare Training Center.
  • Has spoken strongly against President Obama's budgets, opposed cutting the military budget, has stated "A defense budget in decline portends and America in decline."
  • Voted in favor of American military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq, espouses a "return to peace through strength and such Reagan like policies as full financial and material support for the military, keeping Guantanamo Bay open and military posturing.
  • Introduced language into the 2012 National Defense Authorization Bill that would grant Presidents unprecedented powers to wage war freely against persons abroad.
  • Prefers  raising taxes to cutting Pentagon budget, but would rather cut entitlement spending instead.
  • Opposes gay marriages. Would restrict access to the civil court system by persons suspected of terrorism.
  • Received below-market rate loans from Countrywide Financial, a program created to boost the company's standing with politicians and other well-connected persons. Claimed he did not know it was part of this scheme.



Mac Thornberry

A Republican, Mac Thornberry is the U.S. Representative from the Texas Panhandle. His district is a Republican stronghold. A multi-generational Republican, he and his son run a cattle ranch. Holds a law degree from University of Texas. Former deputy Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs under Ronald Reagan. Played a key role in the establishment of the new Homeland Security Department, also in the establishment of the new Homeland Security Department. 

Has pressed for repeal of the estate tax and also for tax credits to encourage production of oil in marginal wells.  Votes to apply term limits to U.S. Congressmen (and keeps on getting re-elected). A conservative voter. Consistently right to life. High rating with NRA/gun rights activists. Favored by groups claiming to represent the interests of enlisted Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine veterans and active duty personnel in the United States. 

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mac_Thornberry]

My observations: Mr. Thornberry impresses me as a very intelligent and well educated person. He is also very well connected inside and outside of the Texas power structure. I believe he is interested in preserving and enhancing the finances of those rich friends, corporate industrialists in the defense industry who keep him in office. Would he and his friends/supporters have reason to oppose President Obama's policies? You better believe it.



Martha Roby 

Republican Representative from Alabama. Degrees in music and law. Daughter of Joel F. Dubina, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Self-described "staunch Republican." Ran the most expensive race  in her district's history, spending $1,240,275.64 on her 2010 election, mostly from large, individual contributions. A real estate group contributed $25,300.00.  "Leadership PACs" contributed $106,010. Roby voted in September 2013 to cut $39 billion from the food stamp program even though About 41,000 households in her district received food stamps in 2011In December 2011, Roby voted for limiting Presidential power and for doing an end-run around requirements for Presidential approvals. 

My thoughts: Do you think this person was capable of turning this investigation into a self-righteous witch hunt? I do. I think her "verdict" was determined before they ever interviewed the first witness. Take a look at where her financial support came from: Do you think she got her backing from the grass roots rank-and-file working poor? I don't. 

[Source: http://votesmart.org/candidate/71604/martha-roby#.UwbkcPRDuSr ]

Also of Interest

  • Got the lowest possible rating by ACLU, Zero percent.
  • Aligned herself with House resolution designed to bring legal action against the Obama Administration
  • Rated zero percent by NEA
  • Rated only 15 percent by NAACP
  • Rated 6  percent by Peace Action West
  • Opposes Affordable Care Act
  • Focused on cutting only "non-defense" spending

Fair and impartial? Well, there is more that could be said, but the above was enough to make me ask this question: Is this person capable of rendering a fair and impartial assessment of the President's performance in Banghazi or anywhere else? I think not.

Why did they do it? Why, indeed, if the conclusions were foregone from the git go, as I think they may have been. There are no doubt other explanations, but my best guess would be that they saw this Benghazi as a way to get the government to fund their dirt-digging attempts as they sought to discredit the President, the White House and the State Department, since Mrs Clinton, potentially a Presidential hopeful, was Secretary of State. 

Puzzling last question: (Maybe you can answer for me.) In the report, so far I am only finding the three members asking the questions, so I am puzzled about the constant mention of the "five majority members" who supposedly agree with the findings. 

Can anyone tell me who these five majority members are, and why they are called majority members?  

Thanks, 

Frank

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