White House Capitulates to Benghazi Truthers Rather Than Coming Clean on Targeted Killing

The other day, I explained that the Administration would be forced either to cede to Republican demands for Benghazi talking points and other truther demands or release a full accounting why and in which countries it has conducted targeted killing.

It decided to capitulate to the Benghazi truthers rather than tell the Intelligence Committee what kind of targeted killing it has been doing.

Rather than agreeing to some Democratic senators’ demands for full access to the classified legal memos on the targeted killing program, Obama administration officials are negotiating with Republicans to provide more information on the lethal attack last year on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, according to three Congressional staff members.

The strategy is intended to produce a bipartisan majority vote for Mr. Brennan in the Senate Intelligence Committee without giving its members seven additional legal opinions on targeted killing sought by senators and while protecting what the White House views as the confidentiality of the Justice Department’s legal advice to the president.

[snip]

The administration is currently in discussions with Republican members of the Intelligence Committee about providing the trail of e-mails that were the basis of “talking points” from the intelligence agencies regarding the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, which killed the American ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans. Such a concession would probably win at least some Republican votes for Mr. Brennan.

I get that the Benghazi truther demands are, at this point, pointless. I get that the President would rather cede to a bunch of  nutcases  from the Republican party than Senators from his own party.

But what does it say that this information on targeted killing–which the Administration should provide to the intelligence Committees under the National Security Act, by law, in any case–is more precious than a bunch of partisan hackery the Republicans have been pursuing since September.

There must be some reason the Administration would rather kowtow to sensationalized requests from Republicans rather than commit to the transparency it’d take to get 2 Democrats and a Republican to vote for Brennan.

But no reason for doing so would be respectable.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

14 replies
  1. Arbusto says:

    Wonder if the exuberance of killing a 16 year old citizen may have worn off on rereading a John Yoesque OLC WHAG opinion and Obama LLC is in deep legal shit.

  2. GKJames says:

    It highlights the sham that is (i) Feinstein’s “demand” for the memos; only one member — Weyden — really wants them; and (ii) the Senate’s oversight of what the Executive is doing.

  3. lefty665 says:

    The framers of our Constitution, hot on the heels of the revolution
    They must have seen the handwriting on the wall.
    In article two in section 4, they provided us an open door
    to commence a presidential overhaul…..

    Chorus
    I-M-P-E-A-C-H, seven little letters can get us straight
    I-M-P-E-A-C-H, how much more are we going to take
    I-M-P-E-A-C-H, time to clean the White House out

    Time to update this song. It’s not just a Duhbya tune anymore, but it’s still a 12 bar blues.

  4. mlnw says:

    What the Republicans have not addressed are the policies behind the Benghazi mission and what the CIA and State Department were doing there- and that is because they have endorsed those policies, skewed as they are, and don’t want to be held accountable for their endorsement if the full extent of our activities are revealed. Moreover, it would reveal much more about Brennan’s involvement in the fiasco.

    There is so much opposition to Brennan in the Intelligence community that it boggles the mind that the Administration and Senate leadership would want him in the CIA at all, let alone as Director of the Agency.
    Better for the country if he were put out to pasture, and the Administration hired an Intelligence officer committed to getting it right rather than a careerist who obfuscateS the facts and makes it (the Intelligence) as instructed.

  5. peasantparty says:

    @mlnw: Zactly!

    A current officer that is actually seeing and understands, plus knows what Empire will do to our broke country.

  6. TarheelDem says:

    When you are assured of Democractic votes, despite protest, you don’t have to negotiate with them. It’s that simple. No Democrats, even Sen. Wyden, are willing to go to the wall on this issue.

  7. Jeff Kaye says:

    You left out a few crucial words in the sentence that begins your pull quote. Note in brackets below the missing words from the NYT story.

    “[Rather than agreeing to some] Democratic senators’ demands for full access to the classified legal memos on the targeted killing program, Obama administration officials are negotiating with Republicans…”

    Your story is based on the gist of the missing words, so maybe no one noticed, but good to have it for the record.

  8. Jeff Kaye says:

    “But what does it say that this information on targeted killing–which the Administration should provide to the intelligence Committees under the National Security Act, by law, in any case–is more precious than a bunch of partisan hackery the Republicans have been pursuing since September”?

    It says… business as usual!

    All kidding aside, I am quite sure that the withholding of the memos is to protect the Executive Branch from scrutiny, and especially the WH when it has been in Democratic Party control, as the Democrats as well as the Republicans have been knee deep in this stuff.

    To finish with shameless promotion, check out my story on how the Department of Homeland Security documented how the FBI financed and directed a domestic right-wing terrorist outfit, including the planning of domestic assassinations. I’m not kidding about this, by the way.

    http://my.firedoglake.com/valtin/2013/02/20/dhs-says-fbi-possibly-funded-terrorist-group/#

  9. P J Evans says:

    @Jeff Kaye:
    I assumed that what was missing was ‘Despite’. (Close, but no cigar.)

    I am really tired of the president’s constant desire for bipartisany approval. (I wish he’d get over it.)

  10. joanneleon says:

    Some coalition they’ve got there.

    “Such a concession would probably win at least some Republican votes for Mr. Brennan.”

    If they had some integrity they’d recognize that all of the things requested are important (though the legal memos are a hell of a lot more important than talking points and related info) and they’d stick together until they all got the information that they are owed.

    For Feinstein, I think this rises to the level of dereliction of duty. She doesn’t think it should hold up the Brennan confirmation. Bullshit. It’s important enough that it should hold up everything. Organizations and activists on the left (and whoever wants to join in) should stand up on this one and call for her resignation, protest her and the White House for not revealing such a basic thing as their justification for assassination.

  11. Ted Martin says:

    I would like to see how much of the paperwork is blacked out so they don’t show how that rectum knew all about it, before, during and afterwards and then just let them die!

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