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Shaheen's Libya failure: Party over the people

January 23. 2013 7:29PM

Four Americans died in a terrorist assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Four months later the members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee finally got to question Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about it. If you had that rare opportunity, what would you ask?

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a member of that committee, had the opportunity. When it came, she asked not a single question about how the security in Benghazi was left so weak despite repeated requests from State Department officials there for upgrades. She made no effort at all to get to the bottom of the issue. Instead, she called Clinton a great leader and called for spending more money on the State Department.

Shaheen used her question time to advance the Democratic Party's effort to deflect attention from the fatal Benghazi failure by focusing on current State Department funding. She asked Clinton whether $1.4 billion dedicated for spending in Iraq had been transferred for use on embassy security. Of course, she already knew the answer. Senate Democrats have had fun pointing out that approval for the transfer was inserted into the Senate's Hurricane Sandy relief bill, but removed by the House (because it was completely unrelated to Sandy relief). She used her rare opportunity to make a partisan political point.

In addition, as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, surely Shaheen would know that Charlene Lamb, deputy assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in October that a lack of funding was not the reason for Benghazi's security shortage. The funding issue is a diversion, nothing more.

Shaheen had a choice. She could either help her party deflect blame for Benghazi or help the people understand what happened. Ever the loyal partisan, Shaheen chose her party over the people.

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