As numerous Benghazi-related scandals and even talk of impeachment swirl around the Obama administration with increasing ferocity — fiddling with talking points, deliberate lies, failing to defend U.S. personnel, and more — analysts and lawmakers say the real issues in “Benghazigate” that should have the American people outraged are largely being kept out of the discussion. Questions about U.S. government gun-running to radical Islamists from Libya to Syria, for example, or the wisdom and constitutionality of overthrowing foreign governments, have yet to be seriously addressed by the White House or Congress.
Of course, lawmakers in Washington, D.C., claim to be up in arms about the Benghazi attack — especially Republicans, who have been all over the media promising to find out what happened. "The goal here is to get to the truth," House Speaker John Boehner claimed at a press conference last week. "Four Americans lost their lives. Their families want to know the truth. The American people want to know the truth. And I believe it is Congress’ obligation to get to the truth."
The truth Rep. Boehner is talking about, however, seems to be mostly focused on whether the administration lied in the aftermath of the attack; it did, and everybody knows that now. But while public pressure is growing for Congress to create a select committee to investigate all angles of the attacks, the top Republican in the House has steadfastly refused to create such a group, for reasons that are not entirely clear. Nonetheless, GOP lawmakers seem to be fixated on finding out how the administration changed its now-debunked talking points after the attack — hardly the real issue, according to critics.
While deliberately lying to the public is certainly a major problem, former GOP Congressman and two-time Republican president candidate Ron Paul of Texas says the whole discussion on Benghazi has become a “sideshow.” According to Dr. Paul, each side in the uproar is just seeking to score political points instead of “asking the real questions” about the deadly attack on U.S. facilities and personnel in Libya — an assault that ultimately killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.
In the liberty-minded icon’s weekly analysis, posted online at the recently formed Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, the longtime critic of foreign interventionism lashes out at both Republicans and Democrats. GOP politicians, he said, “smell a political opportunity” in evidence that the Obama administration edited the initial talking points to protect the president and the State Department — something Paul said was “standard operating procedure” in Washington.
Congressional Democrats, meanwhile, have offered an “even less convincing explanation for Benghazi” by claiming that Republicans did not appropriate enough funds for security at overseas U.S. government facilities. “With a one trillion dollar military budget, it is hard to take this seriously,” Paul wrote, demolishing Democrat talking points that almost always claim more and much more taxpayer money would solve all problems. Even the establishment media has ripped the manufactured Benghazi-security funding assertions apart.
The real scandal, Dr. Paul and others argue, is the one that is not being talked about: The fact that Obama’s decision to bomb Libya and overthrow its government ultimately led to the attack in Benghazi. Even former CIA chief Michael Hayden has now publicly stated as much. “The Islamic radicals who attacked Benghazi were the same people let loose by the U.S.-led attack on Libya,” Paul wrote. “They were the rebels on whose behalf the U.S. overthrew the Libyan government. Ambassador Stevens was slain by the same Islamic radicals he personally assisted just over one year earlier.”
Republicans, of course, cannot talk about that scandal, because most of them either supported the administration’s lawless and unconstitutional war — or at the very least did nothing to stop it. GOP politicians also helped Obama hype wild and clearly bogus claims about Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi while backing the Islamist rebels — many of whom, even among the leadership, were openly affiliated with al-Qaeda and had previously battled U.S. troops in other countries.
“Neither side wants to talk about the real lesson of Benghazi: interventionism always carries with it unintended consequences,” Paul explained, blasting Republicans for focusing on talking points rather than the far-more explosive real scandals. “The U.S. attack on Libya led to the unleashing of Islamist radicals in Libya. These radicals have destroyed the country, murdered thousands, and killed the U.S. ambassador. Some of these then turned their attention to Mali which required another intervention by the U.S. and France.”
Dr. Paul also highlighted the other elephant in the room that has barely been discussed on Capitol Hill or by the establishment media: U.S. government arms given to Islamists in Libya, and probably to similar-minded radicals in Syria currently being supported by the Obama administration. Now that it is widely known that much of the “revolutionary” coalition in Syria is affiliated with al-Qaeda as well, “The U.S. is now intervening to persuade some factions of the Syrian rebels to kill other factions before completing the task of ousting the Syrian government,” Paul wrote.
“The real lesson of Benghazi will not be learned because neither Republicans nor Democrats want to hear it,” the doctor-turned-lawmaker-turned-political icon concluded. “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.”
While most of the Republican-versus-Democrat squabbles on Benghazi focused on comparatively trivial issues, Dr. Paul’s son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), has been among the few openly discussing the gun-running scandal for months. During Senate hearings with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in late January, for example, Sen. Paul asked whether the U.S. government was “involved in any procuring of weapons, transfer of weapons, buying, selling, any how transferring weapons to Turkey out of Libya?"
Echoing well-founded suspicions that have been raised by top American military officials, analysts, journalists, Middle Eastern security officials, and others, Sen. Paul tried to get answers. He failed. Clinton acted surprised — almost as if she did not realize Sen. Paul was referring to the administration’s scheme to arm Islamist “rebels” in Syria via the Islamist Turkish government, similar to Obama’s lawless schemes in Libya.
“To Turkey?” asked Clinton incredulously, face contorted. “I will have to take that question for the record; nobody’s ever raised that with me.” She later backtracked slightly, saying the question would have to be raised with “the agency” that ran the annex in Benghazi — presumably she was referring to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Despite the lack of answers, Sen. Paul has continued to pursue the issue, talking about the alleged gun-running in TV and radio interviews. "What are they covering up?" Sen. Paul asked during a March interview on talk radio. "I have a feeling that it had something to do with the CIA annex. You know, a week before the ambassador was killed in Libya, a ship left Libya and docked in Turkey and it actually interviewed the captain of that ship who said there were arms on board and that he actually witnessed the rebels taking the arms and disputing over who got what. That there were grenade launchers; that there were significant arms being transferred." He brought the issue up again as recently as last week on CNN.
Even in the establishment press, hints of the gun-running scandal are starting to emerge. “I believe, and my sources tell me, that they were to round up those shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles,” talk-show host Geraldo Rivera said during an interview on Fox and Friends last week. “They were going to hand those missiles over to the Turks, and the Turks were going to give them to the rebels in Syria. It was like Iran-Contra. It merits a gigantic investigation."
Other experts, including former Pacific Fleet commander Adm. James Lyons (Ret.), have gone even further, suggesting the possibility of a massive coverup to conceal something even more incredible than arming violent Islamists. With lawmakers and much of the press focused on edited talking-point lies and scoring political points, however, the truth about Benghazi — and the real scandals behind what happened — may be swept under the rug, unless there is a massive public outcry demanding the truth.
Alex Newman, a foreign correspondent for The New American, is currently based in Europe. He can be reached at