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05.19.2013 _____________________

“As I have been home,” Michele Bachmann said, “there isn’t a weekend that hasn’t gone by that someone says to me: ‘Michele, what in the world are you all waiting for in Congress? Why aren’t you impeaching the president? He’s been making unconstitutional actions since he came into office.'”

Thank you, Ms. Bachmann, for affirming your agenda:

Impeach the president.

Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan wrote, “We are in the midst of the worst Washington scandal since Watergate,” and Fox News commentator Mike Huckabee recently predicted President Obama wouldn’t complete his term.

Off with his head.

Today, there are serious crises in Washington: The Department of Justice spied on telephone traffic related to Associated Press reporters, and the Internal Revenue Service engaged in extensive and presumably illegal activity toward taxpayers associated with conservative causes.

Those are real issues, and heads should roll — but not the president’s.

I think the president should fire all top IRS officials associated with the scandal and he should fire Attorney General Holder for DOJ actions that target whistle-blowers and the free press.

Those are real issues.

Yet, as sectarian fighting fractures an increasingly destabilized Iraq — where this week two bombs exploded outside a mosque killing 43 — the GOP fiddles over Benghazi.

Yet, as fighting in Afghanistan continues to fracture that country — where this week a bomb in Kabul killed 15, including six Americans — the GOP fiddles over Benghazi.

Yet, as civil war wages in Syria, and as Russia sends advanced anti-ship cruise missiles to a country where more than 80,000 people have been killed and where over 1.5 million Syrians have become refugees — the GOP fiddles over Benghazi.

GOP zealots, who live in a reality to the far-right of what has historically been the Republican Party, have labored since 2008 to portray Barack Obama as incapable of being leader of the free world.

In a world where Republicans and Democrats used to set aside differences in order to project a unified position on international affairs, zealots are willing to jeopardize America’s strategic interests for personal parochial gain.

President Obama has not traded hostages for arms with Iran nor has he authorized torture or war crimes. He didn’t fiddle while a hurricane destroyed an American city nor has he destabilized an entire region.

No, President Obama is trying to deal with a destabilized Middle East and struggling economy — much of which he inherited from his predecessor.

Meanwhile, the zealots, unfazed in their attempts to disenfranchise Obama, have seized on an exaggerated crisis in Libya as a cause célèbre, and sadly, as a result, dangerously handicap America’s ability to navigate through troubled and dangerous international waters.

Turning to Benghazi, let’s recall that it was not President Obama who cut security funding for American missions overseas.

What is known is real and tragic: An attack on the American consulate and CIA base in Benghazi killed four Americans, including American Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Because of that tragedy, and to counter charges of a cover-up, the White House this week released 100 pages of e-mails that track the editing process that produced the controversial talking points used by Ambassador Susan Rice in her press briefings on Sept. 16, 2012.

The editing process was bureaucratic, tiresome, complicated and overly anal as both the CIA and State Department tried to deflect blame onto the other.

The talking points are a mix of the obvious and the reasonable, and one egregiously false statement that never got corrected: that the CIA believed the attacks were “spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.” This was wrong: It appears in the first draft and surprisingly survived all revisions, even after analysts knew it was untrue.

Assessments being done in the aftermath of a crisis are not easy, and often incorrect. Press reports, field reporting and third-party claims of responsibility often conflict: As the talking points clearly state, “this assessment may change.”

That the final talking points were inadequate, even after a Saturday meeting that tried to resolve competing narratives and differences, is not in dispute. However, there is no basis to presume the final points were an attempt to mislead Americans and Congress: It says that attacks were possibly inspired by Cairo protests (false), that things might change “as more information is collected” (clear) and that the investigation is ongoing.

On Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, after revisions were complete, then-CIA Director Petraeus signed off, “This is certainly not what (Congressman) Ruppersberger was hoping to get,” wrote Mr. Petraeus.

“Regardless, thx for the great work.”

Thanks, but no thx.

The memory of the four fallen Americans is being besmirched by mean-spirited parochial partisanship while true American security interests are being sidelined. Let’s honor them, and all those who volunteer to serve our country beyond our borders, by expecting and honoring truth.

This column appeared originally in the Portsmouth Herald.

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