The Republican Party for some untold reason exists in the zeitgeist of most people as the “militarist” wing of American politics. Their assumed competence in all things ACTION! is of course beyond undeserved (see Terror, Global War On), but nevertheless this stereotype exists mostly due to the willingness of Republicans to talk like John Wayne when discussing the dirty business of war. Yesterday was yet another reminder that the elected Republicans might be great politicians, but are awful public servants, especially in the field of international relations and national security.
Meet Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah. He’s the new-ish hardcore Republican Congressman who at one point believed his own media-hype enough to take on the Grandaddy of Utah politicians, Orin Hatch, for Senate. Since he was disabused of that belief, he has been happy with his role in the starting line up for relaying Republican hackery to the press.
Yesterday Chaffetz, alongside firebug/asshole Darrell Issa, convened a special meeting of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee for the sole purpose of scoring political points out of the death of Ambassador Chris Steven’s. At the time, the meeting was seen as just another disgusting and cynical attempt by Congressional Republicans to provoke the idiotic tabloid nature of the cable news cycle into somehow blaming the Obama Administration for whatever bad things happen in the world. However, as Dana Milbank reports today, Chaffetz’s idiocy also managed to accomplish something even worse than the usual wasting of taxpayer money to investigate right wing conspiracy theories; this time they managed to blow the cover of an entire platoon of CIA Officers:
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) was the first to unmask the spooks. “Point of order! Point of order!” he called out as a State Department security official, seated in front of an aerial photo of the U.S. facilities in Benghazi, described the chaotic night of the attack. “We’re getting into classified issues that deal with sources and methods that would be totally inappropriate in an open forum such as this.”
A State Department official assured him that the material was “entirely unclassified” and that the photo was from a commercial satellite. “I totally object to the use of that photo,” Chaffetz continued. He went on to say that “I was told specifically while I was in Libya I could not and should not ever talk about what you’re showing here today.”
Now that Chaffetz had alerted potential bad guys that something valuable was in the photo, the chairman, Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), attempted to lock the barn door through which the horse had just bolted. “I would direct that that chart be taken down,” he said, although it already had been on C-SPAN. “In this hearing room, we’re not going to point out details of what may still in fact be a facility of the United States government or more facilities.”
May still be a facility? The plot thickened — and Chaffetz gave more hints. “I believe that the markings on that map were terribly inappropriate,” he said, adding that “the activities there could cost lives.”
And whose control might they have fallen under? Well, presumably it’s the “other government agency” or “other government entity” the lawmakers and witnesses referred to; Issa informed the public that this agency was not the FBI.
“Other government agency,” or “OGA,” is a common euphemism in Washington for the CIA. This “other government agency,” the lawmakers’ questioning further revealed, was in possession of a video of the attack but wasn’t releasing it because it was undergoing “an investigative process.”
Mind you that Chaffetz already admitted that he proudly voted to cut the State Department’s budget for securing facilities like the one attacked on 9/11/2012, despite pleas from Hillary Clinton herself that the cuts put American personnel in danger. Now the dude decides to play cowboy on a national stage for the benefit of his party’s electoral chances, and he manages to expose a clandestine CIA hideout. GREAT JOB ASSHOLE!
But seriously when will the press, and voters for that matter, figure out that our current crop of elected officials are uniformly terrible at providing a critical analysis of issues relating to our military or diplomatic efforts abroad? The Republicans especially have done everything possible to show us as a country that they are uniquely incompetent at managing even basic functions regarding international relations, much the careful strategy that is required for involvement in a war zone. Is it too much to ask that one day elect people who actually know how to do their job in regulating our actions abroad, rather than just knowing how to act the part?