The Benghazi Inquisition is Officially Over

SK Ashby
Written by SK Ashby

The Select Benghazi Committee has officially closed the books on the grand inquisition that began four years ago and, not-coincidentally, ended just one month after the 2016 election.

The panel, which spent more than $7.8 million over two and a half years, disbanded at the end of the 114th Congress, before a new Congress begins in January.

The special committee was created in May 2014 to investigate the terrorist attacks at the U.S. compound in eastern Libya where four Americans died, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Now that Hillary Clinton is out of the picture, the committee has no reason to exist. But before we get to that, I want to take a brief trip down memory lane and recall how the committee came into being.

Before there was a select committee, there was Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa. Between 2012 and 2014, Issa and several other committee chairmen led separate investigations into the attack on the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya. Their reasons for investigating the attack ranged from outright conspiracy theories to aggressive ass-covering, but they all concluded the same thing: the Obama administration did everything it could have done to respond to the attack. There was no "stand down" order. There was no conspiracy.

But that wasn't good enough for some Republicans or conservatives egged on by years of apocalyptic coverage on Fox News and even 60 Minutes which, as you may recall, produced a feature that was so factually baseless it earned CBS reporter Lara Logan a six-month suspension.

Meanwhile, Republicans were dutifully doing that thing they always do: obstructing a Democratic administration's efforts to pass a basic federal budget.

Facing pushback for failing to find the smoking Benghazi gun, an intransigent caucus, angry congressmen up for reelection, a possible government shutdown, and even the possibility of defaulting on the national debt, former Speaker of the House John Boehner cut a deal.

In exchange for agreeing to fund the federal government and avoid a financial apocalypse while throwing a bone to members facing the 2014 midterm elections, Boehner placated the party by creating the Select Benghazi Committee to carry on the work that had already been wrapped up by the Oversight, Armed Services, and Intelligence Committees.

And you know the rest. The Benghazi Committee spent another two years investigating what had already been investigated, ad nauseum, for the previous two years.

The Benghazi Committee didn't reach any different conclusions than what other Republican-controlled committees concluded in the past, but it was never about that. This was a two-year-long, taxpayer-funded exercise in opposition research that had only one goal: smear Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and President Obama.

The real legacy of Benghazi and Republican control of the powers of oversight is that no one even takes oversight seriously at this point. No one seriously expects Republicans will exercise their power just as vigorously under despot-elect Donald Trump as it did under President Obama. And even in the highly unlikely event they prove us all wrong and aggressively investigate Trump, their own previous failures will be used against them.

Republicans told the world the Obama administration was the most corrupt administration in history. They told the public many things, but they didn't deliver on any of it. From Solyndra, to Fast and Furious, to the IRS and Benghazi, Republicans found nothing. They will be reminded of that by their own constituents if they investigate Trump.