GOP’s Benghazi humiliation: Capture of suspect upends deranged agenda

With alleged ringleader now in custody, the Benghazi Select Committee just lost a prized grandstanding opportunity

Topics: trey gowdy, Benghazi, House Select Committee on Benghazi, Republicans, House Republicans, Benghazi conspiracy, Benghazi coverup, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, the daily caller, Allen West, Terrorism, Darrell Issa, Editor's Picks, GOP,

GOP's Benghazi humiliation: Capture of suspect upends deranged agendaTrey Gowdy (Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster)

For the not insignificant portion of the right that operates under the theory that everything the Obama administration does is intended to distract from the Benghazi scandal, yesterday’s news that Ahmed Abu Khattala, the alleged ringleader of the Benghazi attacks, had been apprehended in Libya was something of a conundrum. The White House was making news about Benghazi – the very thing they wanted swept under the rug. What did it mean???

The consensus was the White House had switched gears, and was now diabolically using Benghazi to distract from something else. But no agreement could be found on what that other thing is. It’s either Iraq (the Limbaugh theory), Libya (the Daily Caller theory), Hillary Clinton’s gaffes (the Fox News theory), or everything (the Allen West theory).

That the good news of Khattala’s apprehension could be so easily twisted into an outlandish anti-Obama conspiracy does not speak well of the health of the conservative movement. It shows how much conservatives have invested in the Benghazi scandal narrative, and how ultimately weak that narrative is. In that vein, Khattala’s capture poses a setback for the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which was formed to keep the Benghazi scandal alive, but has had the legs kicked out from under it before it could even hold a hearing.

That committee, chaired by the flamboyantly prosecutorial Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., was formed ostensibly to answer the “unanswered questions” that supposedly remain about the Benghazi attack after multiple inquiries by congressional investigators and other parties. Gowdy, after he was tapped by John Boehner to chair the committee, did a round of media interviews to lay out some of those questions. As a number of observers pointed out, the questions Gowdy wanted answered – Why was security lacking? Where were the military support units? What of the talking points? – have already been asked and answered several times over.



Really, there were only a few avenues of inquiry that offered some legitimate opportunities for oversight, and the lack of action in pursuing the people responsible for the attacks was one of them. Apprehending terrorism suspects does sometimes take a while — the Bush administration couldn’t nab Osama bin Laden after seven years and a suspect indicted in 2000 for the 1998 embassy bombings was arrested just last October – but Khattala was out in the open, talking to reporters and generally flaunting his freedom. It seemed reasonable to ask why, exactly, that was the case.

After the House voted to approve the committee in May, Gowdy issued a statement indicating that he would try to nail down that question. “No one has been arrested, prosecuted, or punished for the murders of our fellow Americans,” the statement read. “These outstanding questions, and others, are legitimate, and seeking the answer to these questions should be an apolitical process.”

That “outstanding question” is now moot. Gowdy can press and investigate why it was that it took so long to actually capture Khattala, but he runs the risk of looking like he’s signing on with the conspiracy crowd. Also, part of the reason it took so long for special forces to move against Khattala is that they reportedly spent over a year training and preparing for the mission. That preparation was undoubtedly worth it – Khattala was captured without incident – so it doesn’t look like there’s much for the committee to gripe about.

Losing Khattala as an opportunity to grandstand is only the latest setback Gowdy’s committee has faced. Not long after the committee was formed, it was hamstrung – intentionally or not; it’s up to debate – by Rep. Darrell Issa, who talked to reporters about a classified memo indicating that shortly after the attacks began, the White House contacted YouTube to “warn of the ‘ramifications’ of allowing the posting of an anti-Islamic video.” If you’re not well versed in the conservative Benghazi conspiracy lore, a big part of it is that the White House conspired after the fact to blame the attack on this video so they could pretend it wasn’t an act of terrorism. But Issa’s memo blew a hole in that by indicating that the White House thought the video was to blame from the very start. And as it turns out, the New York Times reported yesterday that Khattala “told other Libyans in private conversations during the night of the attack that he was moved to attack the diplomatic mission to take revenge for an insult to Islam in an American-made online video.”

Fewer avenues to investigate Benghazi mean fewer opportunities for the select committee to politicize the proceedings and generate headlines. It means fewer opportunities for Trey Gowdy to make angry or emotional statements for the cameras and then post the videos to YouTube. Khattala’s apprehension and the demise of silly conspiracies are obviously in the public interest, but they’re counter to what Republicans want politically.

Simon Maloy

Simon Maloy is Salon's political writer. Email him at smaloy@salon.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SimonMaloy.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...