Today, at a House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on “Benghazi and Beyond,” it wasn’t just hypothetical explosions that were on the menu. More than a few tempers exploded as well. Fox News reports:
Tempers boiled over as the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing with several analysts, though none would be considered key figures in the administration’s Benghazi attack response. A few officials with inside knowledge were briefing select lawmakers behind closed doors Thursday; and in a win for lawmakers, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., announced that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will testify next month.
But the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing swiftly became a venue for lawmakers to voice their frustrations and lob accusations at the administration. Lawmakers sparred early and often, with Democrats accusing Republicans of turning a tragedy into a “political football” and Republicans accusing the administration of hiding the truth.
“This administration has lied to the American people about this tragedy,” Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., said. “The arrogance and dishonesty in all of this is breathtaking. Let’s not stonewall this issue and cover up mistakes, which seems to be what is going on today.”
It only got worse from there. Rohrabacker’s accusations prompted counter-attacks claiming “McCarthyism” on the part of Republicans. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) took special issue with Rohrabacker’s attacks on Susan Rice (who Rohrabacker called “the actual vehicle used to misinform the American people during this crisis.”). Sherman attacked Rohrabacher for being “unfair” to Rice. Rohrabacker shot back:
“We have four of our personnel dead, and it is not a McCarthy-era tactic to demand accountability and to demand that American people are not misinformed about it to the point that they don’t know what the threat is.”
The hearing really escalated when Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) joined in with Rohrabacker in accusing the Obama administration of lying. Democrats started to respond with attacks of their own – this time on Republicans for cutting spending, and on former President George W. Bush. NBC News reports:
Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) unloaded, first sarcastically: “Let’s just hang the guilty parties.”
“The stench of hypocrisy that hangs over this city today emanates from this room,” Ackerman said. “I’ve listened to my colleagues talk about the President of the United States and others in the administration using [the] terms ‘deliberate’, ‘lies’, ‘unmitigated gall’, ‘malfeasance,’ which is malicious and knowing evil-doing, ‘disgust’, ‘coverups’.”
He continued, “If you want to know who is responsible in this town, buy yourself a mirror!”
Ackerman went on to say that Republicans had “the audacity to come here” when the administration requested, for worldwide security, “$440 million more than you guys wanted to provide. And the answer is that you damn didn’t provide it! You REDUCED what the administration asked for to protect these people. Ask not who the guilty party is, it’s you! It is us. It is this committee, and the things that we insist that we need have to cost money.”
Needless to say, the hearing ended without so much as a drop of resolution, and with far more heat than light having been shed on the issue.