Top Five Things Congress Should investigate instead of Benghazi

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) – –

The fruitless carnival barking that was the GOP Benghazi inquisition did the nation the disservice of taking focus off the things really wrong with US policies, and places there really was wrongdoing. So here are some suggestions for real investigations:

1. We still don’t know why Bush-Cheney launched a groundless war of aggression on Iraq in 2003 and tore up the United Nations Charter that post-Nazi diplomats hoped would forestall further such wars of mere aggrandizement. Shouldn’t Congress, which was kept in the dark and actively lied to, look into how it and the country got snookered into destabilizing the Middle East?

2. There is every reason to believe that Exxon-Mobil understood the dangers of climate change from the burning of the fuels they provided to the world as early as the 1970s. The corporation clearly waged a propaganda campaign attempting to keep their profits high and to convince the public that climate change is a myth. In so doing they caused trillions of dollars of damage for which they should be held responsible. Maybe Congress might like to look into this criminal conspiracy, more consequential and damaging to their world even than the conspiracies of the Axis powers in the 1930s and 1940s. Yet we had the Nurenberg trials.

3. How much was the 2008 economic meltdown foreseen by the firms engaged in risky lending practices? Were financiers deliberately playing blackjack with the equity in our mortgages and the value of our stock investments? Unlike in Iceland, where culpable bankers were actually jailed or fined, the US Justice Department let a lot of criminal activity just go unpunished. The economic meltdown didn’t just make people’s wealth disappear; it was a massive transfer of wealth to the rich. Maybe Congress should have a look see and subpoena some records that matter?

4. Are the Koch brothers and their ALEC lobbying organization engaged in criminal conspiracies against American consumers and against the environment? Is there a deliberate effort to pass irrational laws punishing, e.g., Floridians for putting solar panels on their roofs? Are politicians accepting money for the explicit purpose of harming the public weal? Maybe Congress might peek into that one.

5. Have Republican-controlled states put in voter i.d. laws in a deliberate attempt to limit the electorate and discourage minorities and the poor and youth from voting? Did Alabama pass such a law and then deliberately close DMV offices in predominantly African-American districts. Is there a Republican National Council, coordinated effort at voter suppression? Maybe Congress should establish a committee with subpoena power and examine some private documents of GOP legislators and governors in this regard. Deliberately depriving Americans of the vote is still illegal.

It would be nice if our Congress actually took up any of these issues. It would also be nice if the tobacco companies would discourage smoking.


Related video:

Bernie Sanders Calls For Federal Probe Into ExxonMobil | MSNBC

21 Responses

  1. lairy bird

    that first one the republicans investigated and blamed it on “group think” apparently everybody was doin it

  2. As I watched the hearings I thought of how Bush would look being peppered with questions of why he led this nation into a needless war. Why 5,000, not four, Americans lost their lives invading a country that posed no threat to our security. I then realized everyone asking the questions would have been in on the con and the hearings would have been a love fest of softball questions. Maybe someday.

    • That’s no secret. Drones don’t do what the military says they will, just as smart bombs don’t. The public knows that by now, but has embraced the lie because it wants our country to have power untrammeled by the regard for civilian life that we claim to profess. Our citizenry is kept scared, it believes all the Mud Races out there are plotting against its supply of goodies, it wants a tribal warlord President to crush them, and it doesn’t want to pay said President the cost of a conventional world war or bring back the draft. We all privately agree that the drone deaths are regrettable but necessary, thus so is lying to cover them up.

  3. KR

    no 6: why/how congress people are all millionaires by time they leave office?

    • That horse has already left the barn, now you have to be a multi millionaire to even get in.

  4. Yet another. Two of the three powers of the Federal government, legislative and executive, are effectively contravened from over-reach and/or extra constitutional lawmaking and/or enforcement activities. Citizens United shows that no such checks and balances apply to the Supreme Court of this land. Why not, and what can be done about it?

    • Excellent point. The Constitution has a major defect in attempting to implement Checks and Balances on paper while leaving all of the military and police power in the executive. The decline of concern for truth and legality has led to the imperial presidency defying Congress. There are no checks over the judicial branch at all, and it consists entirely of the right wing who have extreme contempt for the rights and interests of the people. With the rise of economic concentrations, which now control elections and mass media, neither the executive nor legislative branches answer to the people. Without free public debate and fair elections, we have a tyranny which cannot be opposed.

      The problem comes down to regaining democratic control of the mass media and elections, which cannot be done without democratic control of the mass media and elections. The oligarchy has digested the former democracy, leaving an empty suit of armor to tyrannize the planet until toppled by its increasing enemies.

  5. But first, Congress should investigate itself in an attempt to recognize how morally and ethically bankrupt it has become and what the consequences might be for this nation, one of which is likely to be the continued decline and probable fall of the American Empire. But I presume that such an exercise would be like an addict not ready to face reality contemplating his next fix.

  6. Investigating nefarious activities are generally prudent. However, current imbalances – e.g. Citizens United – have been crafted to give greater admission to certain interest groups vis-a-vis the public. Diluting a narrow influence, is likely to be more equitable.

  7. As a USS Liberty survivor I am admittedly biased but allow me to recommend another item that should be investigated by the US government – the June 8, 1967 attack on the USS Liberty. We were attacked by unmarked aircraft, we heard the jamming of our radios on both US Navy tactical and international maritime distress frequencies, we witnessed the deliberate machine gunning of life rafts we had dropped over the side in anticipation of abandoning ship, we witnessed the slow circling of our ship by Israeli torpedo boats as they fired from close range at crewmen who were either trapped topside or who ventured topside to help their wounded shipmates, we saw Israeli helicopters filled with armed assault troops hover very close to our ship in an apparent attempt to find a place to allow those troops to rappel down to the ship, and we witnessed the torpedo boats immediate departure from the scene of the attack after cessation of hostilities instead of offering assistance as is their obligation under international law.

    Despite this, not a single US government investigation of the attack on our ship has been conducted.

    • Thank you for your comment.

      U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Arthur Goldberg confronted an Israeli diplomat in New York shortly after the attack with a transcript of Israel Defense Force communications in which an Israeli Air Force pilot radioed his base and disclosed that the ship was flying a U.S. flag – the dispatcher responded that it should be sunk with no survivors left.

      It was only the ability of the USS Liberty to get off a distress signal that resulted in U.S. jet planes scrambling to the scene and preventing further loss of life.

      LBJ was initially angry that the incident did not even make the front page of the New York Times. Despite the outrage, it was concluded by U.S. officials that the U.S.-Israeli relationship was too valuable to be compromised by this incident – hence the matter was dropped.

      Why this intentional attack was carried out in the first place has never been explained fully.

    • Joe: There isn’t much chance of an honest investigation into the Liberty. Admiral McCain’s son in the senate would lead the challenge against such an investigation in the highly unlikely event Congress got some spine and integrity to investigate. Consider the USS Stark that was shot up by an Iraqi plane in the Mediterranean. The crew on that ship was sold down the Arabian Gulf the same as the Liberty’s crew was sold down the Mediterranean. link to

    • Joe: I’m a retired mariner so I take this betrayal of the crew of the Liberty seriously, but as a student of history the great tragedy is that this betrayal is a comparatively minor event. Consider the 4,000-plus Americans killed and tens of thousands maimed physically and mentally who were betrayed by the White House, the Pentagon and Congress. (And those are only American numbers.) Then multiply that many times for Vietnam. Then there were the Brits, the French and the Germans in WWI who sacrificed tens of millions of soldiers and collateral damage to gain a few yards one day only to lose them the next. Then there are the tobacco and other corporations that sacrifice the lives and well-being of millions of people around the world in pursuit of profit.

      To go back to Iraq, we are now seeing the consequences of that crime against humanity bringing the score up to millions dead, maimed and displaced.

  8. I don’t believe the Congress critters were so much snookered as bullied into the invasion of Iraq by the Israel lobby, the servile press, and the war hysteria that was epidemic. They were cowards more concerned with their precious careers than the public good.

    • True, but they don’t deserve the benefit of any doubt that they are immoral career opportunists and bullying demagogues, because almost no one else can get elected with elections and mass media controlled by money power.

  9. The more important issues of our day, will need to wait, until Hillary gets herself into the White House. Besides all of that, when has Washington ever done what is best for the citizens of the world, not too mention it’s country. That D.C. made for TV Hillary Benghazi hearing thing, although entertaining for some, was a slap in the face to the real victims. Along with the families of the heroic deceased who died in Benghazi, I would also like to include the American people, as being the recipients of this governmental insult.

    I also want to urge the public to insist on an investigation of the 1967 Israeli attack upon the USS Liberty. It is never too late, to square such a travesty, and wake up to who our friends really are. Plus, we owe it to the crew of the USS Liberty. I’ll bet for many of that ships crew, they never even were, thanked for their service. It’s way over due, now is the time.

    • Hillary Clinton is going to address the ‘more important issues of our day’. For instance?

  10. How about the top five things MSNBC should report on, instead of Benghazi? Like perhaps the TPP?

  11. Good stuff! I thought I was reading The Onion! The billionaires that run the US will never let any of this happen.

    Bread and circuses

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