I could not believe I did it. I watched every minute of over 11 hours of hearings of the Select Committee on Benghazi.
So after all that time what did I learn? Well, supplementing some other insight I have regarding State department culture, rules and process, I come up 3 major points.
1. Although I am a Democrat I have been a registered Republican and if the party had not moved so far right would still be one. With that background I have not traditionally been a huge fan of Secretary Clinton and her quest for the Presidency. That said, the most important thing I saw and heard at the hearings was a candidate for President who was poised, smart, knew her facts, cared deeply about her staff and is the person I would most want to deal with Foreign Policy crisis’s in the future. I actually came away totally bowled over by her poise and ability to confront antagonistic, personal assaults in a way I knew for certain would have been far beyond my ability. Yes, she is now my personal pick for the highest office in the land.
2. It has been apparent for some time that the Republican Party is filled with individuals that hold our own government in contempt. So many of them are mean, petulant and will do just about anything to get their way. It is a very sad commentary on our Congress and our democracy in its current state. What is even sadder is those folks are representative of a portion of the American public. For members of the Committee to directly imply that the Secretary of State cared not a whit about the lives of career Foreign Service professionals, on that terrible night in Benghazi is beyond the pale.
3. What caused Benghazi? I conclude 3 things. The first was a lack of appropriate funding for security of state department personnel due in large part due to a continuing disagreement in Congress as to funding levels for the Federal Government. This goes further then the Foreign Service and can be seen in the Veterans Department, the Secret Service, the US military, lack of funding for roads and bridges and generally across the board in government. Until there is agreement on government funding levels bad events such as this will continue to occur. Secondly, due to scarce resources we have State department personnel making bad decisions about where security resources need to be deployed. Lastly, we are in a place where the world is becoming more dangerous and it is not easy for us as a country to get a hold on what our policies should be in the face of an ever-changing and more dangerous environment.
Personally, it was well worth 11 hours of my time to learn what I did regarding Benghazi but also about the massive problems this country is facing.