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January 29. 2013 1:55PM

On Benghazi, Shaheen gets a participation ribbon

In response to our http://www.unionleader.com/article/20130124/OPINION01/130129624/-1/opinion01 editorial from last Thursday criticizing her performance during Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen wrote an op-ed http://www.unionleader.com/article/20130129/OPINION02/130129068 column, which we published today.
 
We critizied Shaheen for sticking to the Democratic Party's talking points about Benghazi (suggesting that the real issue is about future security funding, not the security failures that led to the deaths of four Americans) instead of questioning Clinton about how our personnel were left so vulnerable in such a dangerous place. Shaheen responded by saying, essentially, that she is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
 
Her column is full of phrases like these:
  • "I joined my colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a bipartisan Sept. 27 effort demanding the State Department provide an accurate and full accounting of the events that took place before, during and after the attack, as well as an assessment of the state of security of other diplomatic missions around the globe."
 
  • "I participated in the Foreign Relations Committee's investigation of the matter and have attended six formal hearings and classified briefings on this issue. I have spent hours listening to testimony of administration officials. At two public hearings on the Benghazi attack, I raised the concern about having too few military assets in the region to respond to such an attack."
 
  • "I had the opportunity to view classified video which showed real-time footage of the attack in Benghazi and question intelligence officials on the events."
 
  • "I have also read the Accountability Review Board's (ARB) well-documented report on what went wrong in Benghazi and attended a briefing on the report by the two independent co-chairs."
So she has established that she was a junior member of an important Senate Committee and participated in the committee's proceedings. In other words, she gets a participation ribbon.
 
Only once did she note what questions she actually asked of anyone in State. "I asked how we identify and prioritize 'high risk' posts like Benghazi and pressed the administration to assess the cooperation between the Pentagon and State in the lead-up and aftermath of the attack."
 
That is weak tea, as the saying goes. Shaheen cannot point to any independent action in which she took a lead in trying to discover what actually happened that day. The inescapable conclusion is that her performance last week was a continuation of her passive order-following from party HQ. As the editorial rightly stated, it was an opportunity wasted.

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