What No One Wants to Hear About Benghazi
May 13, 2013
Congressional hearings, White House damage control, endless op-eds, accusations, and defensive denials. Controversy over the events in Benghazi last September took center stage in Washington and elsewhere last week. However, the whole discussion is again more of a sideshow. Each side seeks to score political points instead of asking the real questions about the attack on the US facility, which resulted in the death of US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Republicans smell a political opportunity over evidence that the Administration heavily edited initial intelligence community talking points about the attack to remove or soften anything that might reflect badly on the president or the State Department.
Are we are supposed to be shocked by such behavior? Are we supposed to forget that this kind of whitewashing of facts is standard operating procedure when it comes to the US government?
Democrats in Congress have offered the even less convincing explanation for Benghazi, that somehow the attack occurred due to Republican sponsored cuts in the security budget at facilities overseas. With a one trillion dollar military budget, it is hard to take this seriously.
It appears that the Administration scrubbed initial intelligence reports of references to extremist Islamist involvement in the attacks, preferring to craft a lie that the demonstrations were a spontaneous response to an anti-Islamic video that developed into a full-out attack on the US outpost.
Who can blame the administration for wanting to shift the focus? The Islamic radicals who attacked Benghazi were the same people let loose by the US-led attack on Libya. They were the rebels on whose behalf the US overthrew the Libyan government. Ambassador Stevens was slain by the same Islamic radicals he personally assisted just over one year earlier.
But the Republicans in Congress also want to shift the blame. They supported the Obama Administration’s policy of bombing Libya and overthrowing its government. They also repeated the same manufactured claims that Gaddafi was “killing his own people” and was about to commit mass genocide if he were not stopped. Republicans want to draw attention to the President’s editing talking points in hopes no one will notice that if the attack on Libya they supported had not taken place, Ambassador Stevens would be alive today.
Neither side wants to talk about the real lesson of Benghazi: interventionism always carries with it unintended consequences. The US attack on Libya led to the unleashing of Islamist radicals in Libya. These radicals have destroyed the country, murdered thousands, and killed the US ambassador. Some of these then turned their attention to Mali which required another intervention by the US and France.
Previously secure weapons in Libya flooded the region after the US attack, with many of them going to Islamist radicals who make up the majority of those fighting to overthrow the government in Syria. The US government has intervened in the Syrian conflict on behalf of the same rebels it assisted in the Libya conflict, likely helping with the weapons transfers. With word out that these rebels are mostly affiliated with al Qaeda, the US is now intervening to persuade some factions of the Syrian rebels to kill other factions before completing the task of ousting the Syrian government. It is the dizzying cycle of interventionism.
The real lesson of Benghazi will not be learned because neither Republicans nor Democrats want to hear it. But it is our interventionist foreign policy and its unintended consequences that have created these problems, including the attack and murder of Ambassador Stevens. The disputed talking points and White House whitewashing are just a sideshow.
Former Congressman Ron Paul’s article first appeared at the-free-foundation.org, the temporary home for his weekly column until his personal web page is up and running.
Ron Paul’s Texas Straight Talk 4/22/13
Congress Exploits Our Fears to Take Our Liberty
Congress Exploits Our Fears to Take Our Liberty
by Ron Paul
This week, as Americans were horrified by the attacks in Boston, both houses of Congress considered legislation undermining our liberty in the name of “safety.” Gun control continued to be the focus of the Senate, where an amendment expanding federal “background checks” to gun show sales and other private transfers dominated the debate. While the background check amendment failed to pass, proponents of gun control have made it clear they will continue their efforts to enact new restrictions on gun ownership into law.
While it did not receive nearly as much attention as the debate on gun control, the House of Representatives passed legislation with significant implications for individual liberty: the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). CISPA proponents claim that the legislation is necessary to protect Americans from foreign “cyber terrorists,” but the real effect of this bill will be to further erode Americans’ online privacy.
Under CISPA, Internet corporations are authorized to hand over the private information of American citizens to federal agents, as long as they can justify the violation of your privacy in the name of protecting “cyber security”. Among the items that may be shared are your e-mails, browsing history, and online transactions.
Like the PATRIOT Act, CISPA violates the fourth amendment by allowing federal agencies to obtain private information without first seeking a warrant from a federal judge. The law also allows federal agencies to pass your information along to other federal bureaucrats — again without obtaining a warrant. And the bill provides private companies with immunity from lawsuits regardless of the damage done to anyone whose personal information is shared with the government.
CISPA represents a troubling form of corporatism, where large companies cede their responsibility to protect their property to the federal government, at the expense of their customers’ privacy and liberty. In this respect, CISPA can be thought of as an electronic version of the Transportation Security Administration, which has usurped the authority over airline security from private airlines. However, CISPA will prove to be far more invasive than even the most robust TSA screening.
CISPA and the gun control bill are only the most recent examples of politicians manipulating fear to con the people into giving up their liberties. Of course, the people are told the legislation is for “limited purposes,” but authority granted to government is rarely, if ever, used solely for the purpose for which it is granted. For example, the American people were promised that the extraordinary powers granted the government by the PATRIOT Act would only be used against terrorism. Yet soon after the bill became law, reports surfaced that it was being used for non-terrorism purposes. In fact, according to data compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union, 76 percent of the uses of the controversial “sneak-and-peak” warrants where related to the war on drugs!
Sadly, I expect this week’s tragic attacks in Boston to be used to justify new restrictions on liberty. Within 48 hours of the attack in Boston, at least one Congressman was calling for increased use of surveillance cameras to expand the government’s ability to monitor our actions, while another Senator called for a federal law mandating background checks before Americans can buy “explosive powder.”
I would not be surprised if the Transportation Security Administration uses this tragedy to claim new authority to “screen” Americans before they can attend sporting or other public events. The Boston attack may also be used as another justification for creating a National ID Card tied to a federal database with “biometric” information. The only thing that will stop them is if the American people rediscover the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin that you cannot achieve security by allowing government to take their liberties.
Ron Paul’s Texas Straight Talk 4-22-2013 ~ Congress Exploits Our Fears to Take Our Liberty