Republicans fire at Obama on ‘Water­gate re­dux’

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY RALPH Z. HAL­LOW

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­sponse to the Sept. 11 at­tack on the U.S. Con­sulate in Beng­hazi is in­creas­ingly be­ing com­pared by Republicans with Water­gate, the 1972 break-in that even­tu­ally top­pled Pres­i­dent Nixon.

“The han­dling of this Beng­hazi in­ci­dent now ap­proaches the sta­tus of Water­gate re­dux,” said Rea­gan White House Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser Richard V. Allen. “The cru­cial dif­fer­ence is in Water­gate, no one died.”

Mr. Allen joins Sen. John McCain, Pres­i­dent Obama’s op­po­nent in the 2008 elec­tion, in mak­ing the com­par­i­son and even the same “no one died” line. Mr. McCain told CBS’ “Face the Na­tion” that the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ef­forts to shunt aside ques­tions about se­cu­rity at the con­sulate amounted ei­ther to the worst in­com­pe­tence or cover-up he’d ever seen.

For­mer House Speaker Newt Gin­grich wasn’t ready to make the com­par­i­son with the Repub­li­can-mas­ter­minded break-in at Demo­cratic Party of­fices at the Water­gate com­plex in 1972, but said be­fore the Nov. 6 elec­tion that given the po­lit­i­cal cli­mate, the Libyan at­tack could have had more im­me­di­ate con­se­quences.

“In 1972, the lib­eral [Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Ge­orge] McGovern was so clearly un­ac­cept­able that no scan­dal would af­fect the fi­nal out­come of the elec­tion,” Mr. Gin­grich said. “In this case, if you are an un­de­cided voter, maybe one who voted for Obama in 2008, Beng­hazi could be the last straw.”

Four Amer­i­cans, in­clud­ing U.S. Am­bas­sador J. Christo­pher Stevens, died in the Sept. 11 as­sault on the con­sulate, and in the af­ter­math Mr. Obama and his team re­peat­edly said, falsely, that the at­tack grew spon­ta­neously out of a demon­stra­tion against an anti-Is­lam video made by an Amer­i­can ci­ti­zen.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion be­lat­edly ac­knowl­edged it was an or­ches­trated act, but was then hit with doc­u­ments re­leased by Repub­li­can House in­ves­ti­ga­tors that showed the ad­min­is­tra­tion had re­jected re­quests for bet­ter se­cu­rity in the months lead­ing up to the at­tack.

Both the State Depart­ment and the FBI are con­duct­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions, and the White House has de­clined to an­swer more ques­tions, say­ing it will wait for those re­views to be fin­ished.

Calls for more in­for­ma­tion have spread, in­clud­ing to The

“The han­dling of this Beng­hazi in­ci­dent now ap­proaches the sta­tus of Water­gate re­dux,” said Rea­gan White House Na­tional Se­cu­rity

Ad­viser Richard V. Allen. “The cru­cial dif­fer­ence is in Water­gate, no one died.”

Wash­ing­ton Post, where for­eign-pol­icy colum­nist David Ig­natius called for the ad­min­is­tra­tion to re­lease “a de­tailed, un­clas­si­fied time­line of events” that would an­swer ques­tions about the de­ci­sions the ad­min­is­tra­tion was mak­ing in re­al­time dur­ing the as­sault, which lasted for hours.

“It is clear to me that Pres­i­dent Obama and his for­eign­pol­icy ad­vis­ers dis­played in­com­pe­tence in the run-up to, dur­ing and af­ter the Beng­hazi at­tack,” said Matt Sch­lapp, White House po­lit­i­cal di­rec­tor un­der Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush.

“The pres­i­dent’s sec­re­tary of state and na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser are both po­lit­i­cal op­er­a­tors — one a politi­cian, the other a lob­by­ist. They have fol­lowed two strate­gies: to claim that an­swers can­not come with­out a lengthy in­ves­ti­ga­tion that won’t be com­pleted un­til af­ter the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions; and to try blam­ing any­thing other than their own fail­ures, like the ex­is­tence of a video offensive to Mus­lims,” he said.

But some Republicans have warned against draw­ing early con­clu­sions about the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“We don’t have all of the pieces, and I think it’s easy to try and jump to con­clu­sions about what might have hap­pened here. It’s prob­a­bly bet­ter to let the rel­e­vant bod­ies do their work,” for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Con­doleezza Rice told Fox News.

Mitt Rom­ney and his cam­paign strate­gists have ap­par­ently con­cluded that Beng­hazi wasn’t go­ing to be a win­ning is­sue for their man. So Mr. Rom­ney passed up sev­eral op­por­tu­ni­ties in the for­eign-pol­icy de­bate with Mr. Obama to raise the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­sponse to Beng­hazi.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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